Rakuten to deploy drone inspectors at cell sites
Rakuten Mobile, Japan’s disruptive mobile network operator (MNO), said it will use drones – developed within Rakuten Group, an e-commerce and online retailing company – to inspect basestations nationwide.
Cell site inspections can be a dangerous task for engineers, apparently, especially when climbing up antenna towers to get a good look at the basestation. Rakuten Mobile thinks it’s best for drones to get on with the job – not only for safety purposes, but to increase inspection accuracy and reduce costs as well.
Cost savings might be considerable. Rakuten Mobile, which will shortly launch 4G services and then 5G in the coming months based on open RAN tech, plans to have some 45,000 4G basestations and around 35,000 5G ones in place once the network is fully up and running.
There’s a COVID-19 angle to this. [Ed. note: Now there’s a surprise.] Although Rakuten Mobile doesn’t reference the coronavirus outbreak – which seems a missed marketing opportunity, not least because Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly on the verge of declaring a state of emergency to stop COVID-19 spreading across the country – the idea of drones being used to replace field engineers, for health reasons, is starting to occupy minds elsewhere.
A spokesperson from one heavyweight operator, headquartered in Europe, told Light Reading there were concerns about sending engineers into the field due to COVID-19 risks.
To read the complete article, visit Light Reading.