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BT drones will repair broken telecom cables in the future, says firm

BT could use drones to help repair damaged telephone and broadband cables in the future.

The British telecommunications firm admitted that it is working on plans to remotely fix a number of issues, with drones being discussed as a viable option. It is thought that they could prove particularly useful in more remote parts of the UK, where solutions generally take longer to implement.

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BT’s head of customer innovation Matthew Key added that although his company is not currently developing its own drone programme, he believes that drones could have a variety of uses in the future.

“If your network is damaged by a flood, or another natural disaster, drones could fly over and assess what needs to be done - and we could get you back online as quickly as possible. They could even give you temporary broadband access if there’s a disruption to the network," he said (opens in new tab).

"Or broadcast broadband at big events like music festivals. And they could transmit mobile signals too, if needed. In the future, we could also help customers tackle logistical, agricultural and energy challenges with their drone deployments."

While the public have only had access to drones in limited numbers and usually just for recreational purposes, a number of commercial interests are beginning to investigate drone technology. Nokia has already begun using drones to inspect and maintain radio towers in the UAE, limiting the need to send human workers into potential dangerous situations.

Read more: Swiss post testing drone parcel delivery

Away from telecommunications, Amazon has long been developing drone delivery plans, but like many other companies, has been held back by regulatory issues. If BT is to deploy its own drones it will need to comply with all existing legislation and ensure that the public are comfortable with the sight of repair drones flying overhead.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.