T-Mobile US and the Drone Racing League (DRL) have announced the launch of their first 5G-enabled drone. The racing drone has an embedded 5G module capable of streaming live video directly to the internet. The drone is aimed at bringing sports action closer to fans through streaming HD and immersive First Person View (FPV) racing footage sent to broadcasters via T-Mobile’s 5G wireless network.
The drone’s first public flight was last week, at the T-Mobile-sponsored Major League Baseball At Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, giving fans behind-the-scenes access to the iconic ballpark and movie site with exclusive first-person views captured over the T-Mobile 5G network in HD video. Throughout DRL’s 2021-22 Season, the 5G magenta drone will fly at DRL and T-Mobile events, capturing and sharing immersive content. Ahead of DRL events, the drone will soar around the course, filming exclusive previews of the complex, three-dimensional race tracks.
The 5G-enabled drone has a dual FPV and HD streaming camera system and over 2,400g of thrust, enabling it to film content through mile-long courses while flying over 60 miles per hour. In its next phase of development, the 5G module will connect the drone’s command and control functions to enable flight over T-Mobile 5G. With 5G connectivity, this drone is designed to elevate the competition of professional drone racing in the future. The drone will also enable fans to experience FPV clips on their mobile devices.
No one would claim that drone racing and aerial views of sports games are essential services, or even services that most mobile subscribers will be able to use directly. However, such activities are exciting and novel, and as such have the ability to get attention and advertise the technological capabilities of the companies that make and deploy them. In this case, the drone is clearly intended to be a flying advertisement, not only for T-Mobile US itself (note the magenta color of the flying object) but also for its high-tech prowess.
The eye-catching activities of the drones as they soar above public events and transmit astonishing FPV images to those who cannot be there showcase the power and sophistication of T-Mobile’s new 5G network. While most subscribers and potential subscribers will not buy a drone of their own, many are likely to be amazed and gratified by the performance of these gadgets and, by extension of the network that enables them. That in turn may increase the likelihood that they will sign up for 5G service themselves. Beyond that, while they may not need drones, these users may need other IoT devices that also run on T-Mobile’s 5G network.
T-Mobile’s partnerships with technology developers and sports and entertainment venues on this project serve to burnish the operator’s image as a cutting-edge provider of more than just basic telecommunications services. Investments in such highly visible ventures as this are likely to pay dividends in the near future.