By Chris Morgan, AT&T Insider

Ten years ago, the smartphone burst onto the scene. Nothing – including our network – has been the same.

“The popularity of the smartphone caught everybody off guard. We had to scale our network capabilities to support that overnight.  We are taking an early position for drones and taking action,” said Matt Walsh, director of Product Marketing Management, Internet of Things Solutions.

This means sending drones and attached LTE enabled-devices, like phones, up in the air. Then the network connections are tested. These tests – like the Atlanta one featured in the video - are happening across the U.S.

Several years ago, the AT&T Foundry began our company’s work in the drone category. That’s when the need to test how our network could support drones was identified.

Now we are finishing the first phase of a drone-testing collaboration between AT&T Technology and Operations and Internet of Things Solutions.

Meanwhile, our business and government customers are telling us they want to use drones in many ways: handling building and infrastructure inspections, helping fight fires and streaming live video of sports and news events.  

“Drone delivery may sound far-fetched, but it is real. The stage is being set for it to happen. By 2025, network connectivity for drones has been estimated by some to become a billion-dollar business.” Matt said.

Connectivity is just the beginning. AT&T is poised to provide services to the new drone industry, he said.

"We are learning a lot through our testing on the LTE network and we’re exploring ways to optimize these services – before the demand for drones really takes off.”