Our demand for constant connectivity and the consumption of large amounts of data is ever growing and providers are looking at new ways to service this demand in a Big Data society. While drone technology has traditionally been used as a surveillance-gathering tool it also has the ability to allow users to communicate over vast distances in real-time without disrupting or dropping the signal and processing large amounts of data at the same time. Jensen describes the ability to provide this type mobility service as ‘stretchiness’.
Using drone technology in this way is currently being explored to provide mobile Wi-Fi hotspots “with an equivalent of 4G smartphone connectivity … in remote areas where internet provision is bad or missing” (Jensen, 2016. PG 70) and was first explored by Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in the US to provide Internet connectivity on the battlefield. However others are exploring this idea in a civilian setting in the Britain the Department of Transport are discussing the use of drone technology to improve the wireless internet signals on trains (Paton, 2015) and “industry giants such as Google and Facebook are developing … solar panel airplanes to provide network infrastructure on a nation-wide scale.” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2). Facebook recently described the test flights, which will develop a new service to provide Internet access to developing nations as a great success due to the longevity of the flight duration (Hern, 2016).
Apart from the flexibility of mobility of using drone technology to provide an value added network connectivity in hard to reach / developing areas it also negates the issue of rebuilding / building a static infrastructure before providing a service “in disaster areas, ground network instalment is limited …due to various obstacles such as piles of debris.” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2). This technology has the ability to build a network infrastructure instantly. Furthermore the use of a Net-Drone (Internet Drone Technology) will help to optimize the performance of static based transmission as “The deployment of net-drone can improvise a network infrastructure… the service provider can utilize them to enhance the network” (Kyung-Nam Park et al, 2016. PG2).
Hern, A. (2017). Facebook’s solar-powered drone under investigation after ‘accident’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/22/facebook-solar-powered-aquila-drone-under-investigation [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].
Jensen, O. (2016). Drone city – power, design and aerial mobility in the age of “smart cities”. Geographica Helvetica, 71(2), pp.67-75.
Park, K., Kang, J., Cho, B., Park, K. and Kim, H. (2016). Handover Management of Net-Drones for Future Internet Platforms. International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks, 12(3), p.5760245.
PATON, G., 2015, Jun 11. Drones could boost wi-fi on rail network Edition 2]. The Times, 2. ISSN 01400460.