The Remote Mobility Zone, announced Monday, includes an antenna that fits in a suitcase, along with a satellite dish. The unit requires a generator to work, but government and public safety agencies can deploy one to handle up to 14 simultaneous calls and 2G data within a half-mile radius. AT&T will offer other organizations a fixed cell site option or, for government use, small cell sites that can be attached to vehicles.
The portable cell tower could also be used by organizations that operate in remote locations where AT&T holds licensed spectrum, but in which wireless coverage may not be available. It will retail for between $15,000 and $45,000, plus monthly fees, and will allow any AT&T phone to connect to the voice and data network.
Why this matters
In the aftermath of natural disasters, wireless operators have to devote fleets of trucks to act as wireless cell towers while they rebuild their networks. It's a time-consuming and expensive process. With its new Remote Mobility Zone, AT&T is putting some of that responsibility in the hands of first responders.
The need for a quick response time was abundantly clear in the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, in which hundreds of Japanese residents could not reach their loved ones. Local wireless operators are still struggling to rebuild their networks. If government and public safety agencies could help, the wireless downtime could be lessened, especially for critical communication in the most severely affected areas.
Here's more on how the wireless operators spring to action in emergencies.
- Does Telecom Have a Crisis Management Plan?
- Japan Efforts Continue, Impact Assessed
- Quake Rattles Japan Telecom
- NTT Updates on Earthquake Impact
- Japan Update: NTT Discusses Network Recovery
- Japan Is Shouting at Operators – Will They Listen?
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile