There are several challenges that are preventing the telecom industry from experiencing consistent growth over a period of time. Arguably the biggest challenge is inspecting infrastructure and assets on a regular basis to gain actionable intelligence and deliver improved network coverage to the end-consumers.

Manual or traditional inspections of infrastructure pose critical challenges:

  • They cannot be performed in hard-to-reach areas or difficult terrain.
  • Telecom towers are installed in remote locations, and it gets very difficult for telcos to monitor assets in such locations and make data-backed decisions.

Asset inspection with drones has several advantages over traditional methods of inspection.

What makes drone-based asset inspection the ideal alternative? Drone-based asset inspection can automate the process, improve operational efficiency, mitigate risks, and ensure worker safety.

Faster inspection

Manually inspecting towers and assets can take hours, as one would need to climb tall towers, and set up several safety checks and sophisticated equipment on-site. Drones, on the other hand, need no set-up or installation time, and can be put to use instantly. By automating inspection with drones, telcos can fast-track the process by two to three times.

Cost-effective asset inspection

Manual inspection requires the use of expensive equipment. Often, the cost of performing a manual inspection outweighs the outcome or benefits it leads to. Also, if we combine the time required to carry out inspections and personnel costs, manual inspections do not offer value for money. On the other hand, by using drones equipped with cameras, a complete inspection can be conducted from the ground in a shorter amount of time, more efficiently, and at a much lower cost. Besides, the ac­curacy achieved through autonomous activities reduces the requirement of re-work, again facilitating cost savings.

High quality data

Drone operations and analytics platforms enable telcos to perfectly plan their unique drone flying path for better coverage and data capture. With the right software at th­e­ir disposal, telcos can plan flights at regular intervals to accurately evaluate the co­n­di­tion of assets at different points in time. Also, the use of the right payloads can lead to the collection of valuable actio­nable inte­lligence, which can be used to support preventive maintenance efforts among other things.

Improved safety

Conducting asset inspections with drones can save lives. Without putting technicians in dangerous situations, drones can utilise their versatile flight capabilities to determine the condition of assets by capturing footage from different angles. Drones can capture accurate aerial imagery regardless of outside conditions, keeping technicians safe on the ground. Also, the best inspection drones can protect themselves from any damage by avoiding collisions with obstacles within their sight, especially when navigating inaccessible areas. So, by using drones, telcos can minimise the risk of damage to hardware and assets while addressing staff safety concerns.

What to look for in a drone solutions partner?

In order to make the most of what innovative drone solutions have to offer, telcos should choose a drone solution partner with expertise in asset inspection. Here is a checklist to help telcos make the right selection:

  • Availability and access to optimum equipment – drone hardware and sensors
  • Strong operational capabilities spread ac­­­ro­ss geographies to ensure balanced field operation, availability of legal cer­tificati­on and licences, and clear guidelines for the health, safety and well-be­ing of personnel
  • Access to the data pipeline for timely transfer of data
  • Data processing capabilities
  • Analytics capabilities
  • Tight integration of drone hardware, operations and software layers
  • Robust data management and governan­ce practices (privacy being the key aspect)
  • Ability to integrate with the existing IT landscape either through platform sharing or API integration.

However, telcos that do not want to invest heavily in hardware and software upfront and utilise their own manpower to operate drones need an alternative. This is where the drone-as-a-service (DaaS) offering – a complete drone service package wherein the drone solution partner provides hardware, software, piloting and analytics capabilities – could be the perfect solution.

Asteria Aerospace, a full-stack drone te­ch­nology company, could be the ideal dr­o­ne solutions partner. A partnership with As­teria could help leverage India’s first DGCA-certified micro-category drone, A200; the end-to-end cloud-based drone operations and analytics platform, Sky­Deck; licensed pilots; DaaS expertise and more.

Based on a presentation by Asteria Aerospace Limited (