A remote Welsh village just received broadband internet thanks to a cable-laying drone that connected the fiber cables across “challenging” forested, mountainous terrain. According to the BBC, a cable company called Openreach was responsible for this ingenious decision to utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle to solve the town of Pontfadog's internet connectivity issues.
Reportedly, the small town consists of a mere 20 homes, which could explain the lack of attention regarding high-speed internet opportunities up until now. Openreach changed all of that thanks to Chief Engineer Andy Whale’s idea of using a drone to get the locals connected to the World Wide Web. Thanks to him and the affordable, practical tool that is the modern drone, the locals now have access to internet speeds of up to 1 gigabyte.
Whale explained that this was a fairly unusual situation for him and his team, as they’re accustomed to more traditional, city environments when it comes to laying cables. “It’s a bit different to connecting an apartment block in London, that’s for sure,” said Whale. “If we tried running the cable through the woods it was also very likely we’d get it caught up in branches and other natural obstructions, so we figured the best option was to fly it in over the top of the tree canopy and then lift it up to make sure it was clear of the tree line.”
According to the BBC, the UAV wasn’t capable of lifting the weighty fiber cable itself, so the team towed a durable yet lightweight 328-foot fishing line to the required areas beyond the trees. This then allowed for the fiber-optic cable to essentially be pulled across the pre-set fishing line’s path.
Reportedly, all of the above took a mere hour, which, according to local retired teacher Chris Devismes, “has made a world of difference to us. I live here with my two teenage sons and they’re often online - watching films, streaming music or Skyping their friends. When all three of us were online at the same time, it could often be a struggle and things would start to buffer and freeze.”
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of our internet being unreliable at one point or another, and how exacerbating it is to rely so heavily on a connection that often fails you. The idea that a drone helped an entire town, albeit a small one, forever rid families of that annoyance, is vicariously very cathartic. The internet has become an essential part of the modern world's fiber. Having limited access to it, and being cut off from one another, is not an ideal situation to be in. As Openreach itself puts it, "that's not gonna fly."