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Verizon drones head for the skies

After a series of successful tests, Verizon unveils a program that connects drones to its wireless network.

Wireless takes flight.

Wireless takes flight.


Verizon's drone venture is taking off.

Having conducted a series of successful trials across the country, the US telecommunications giant announced on Thursday a program to connect drones to its LTE wireless network.

The drones could be used with various internet-enabled communications apps to, for instance, survey trouble zones in an emergency, safely monitor high-voltage lines and pipelines, and keep an eye on crops.

The project -- called the Airborne LTE Operations, or ALO, initiative -- has been in the works since 2014 and tests are ongoing.

One technical trial, in partnership with American Aerospace Technologies, involved an unmanned aerial vehicle with a 17-foot wingspan. The craft was used to test advanced aerial inspection techniques. Another trial involves a simulation exercise designed to show how connected drones can help first responders deal with disaster recovery.

Verizon is looking to launch a new series of services through net-connected drones by 2017.

AT&T is also working on connecting drones to its wireless network, teaming up with Qualcomm in September.

First published October 6, 9:18 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:38 a.m.:
Adds details.