A drone-based 5G cell site was recently tested over a remote rural field in Missouri. The device is called a flying cell on wings, or Flying COW. It’s ruggedized for extreme environments and can “see” through smoke, treetops and other obstacles.

Drones are commonly used to provide supplemental connectivity during emergencies or large gatherings such as sporting events, but utilizing them as 5G cell sites would be new.

Carriers will soon be able to deploy this technology to reach isolated and rural populations. During the test in Missouri, the Flying COW flew as high as 300 feet and transmitted a strong 5G signal that covered approximately 10 square miles.

The Flying COW was created by AT&T in association with FirstNet, the first responders’ network formed through public-private partnership.