Vodafone Germany has launched an online platform to help businesses manage their drones. The move comes as it marks the fifth anniversary of the technology underpinning much of its innovation: 5G.

The telco has teamed up with data collection company FlyNex to bring DroNet Hub to market, a platform designed to assist customers with planning and managing commercial drone flights.

The operator noted that drone users – we’re talking transporting packages, monitoring infrastructure in inaccessible areas and so forth – have many boxes to tick before they can take flight. They have to consider obtaining the right approvals for the flight, its trajectory, and the quality of network coverage to ensure control. And after the flight, data or images recorded must be analysed quickly. DroNet Hub can do all that, apparently.

The telco is offering a ‘DroNet Connect Stream’ tariff that includes 500 GB of data, which the business can choose to up to 1 TB, and ensures a consistent transmission of live data directly from the drone to the hub. Data from the mobile network is also integrated into the system to help users understand the connectivity and population density that lies ahead on the flight path.

And it almost goes without saying that AI is also integrated into the system, meaning aerial photos can be analysed more quickly to generate automated reports that can be used to create 3D models or digital twins.

Vodafone makes no specific reference to the network technology connected to the platform. Nor does it refer to drone technology as a specific 5G use case, although it has in the past, as well as talking about drones in the context of 5G Advanced and 6G. But naturally drone technology needs high-quality network infrastructure to support it, and Vodafone is making strides to that end in Germany.

Wednesday will be the fifth anniversary of the end of Germany’s 5G network auction, Vodafone reminded us in a separate announcement, in which it talked up the speed of rollout of the current generation of mobile technology.

Vodafone has covered 92% of households with 5G in Germany, equipping 16,000 cell sites with the technology, and is shooting for 95% by the end of the current financial year; that’s the end of March 2025. By comparison, it took LTE nine years to reach the 95% mark, Vodafone notes.

Vendors are also contributing the success of 5G, Vodafone says, pointing out that users have 60 different 5G phone models to choose from. Indeed, 97% of the smartphones currently sold have 5G, it says.

As well as increasing 5G coverage, “at the same time, we are equipping our existing mobile stations with additional capacity,” said Vodafone Germany CEO Marcel de Groot, in a German language statement. “Because we are preparing our network for Germany’s largest mobile migration. We are bringing around 12 million cell phone users into our network. This is an important growth driver for us,” he said.

De Groot was referring to the arrival of a raft of customers from the market’s fourth operator 1&1, which inked a roaming deal with Vodafone last summer, to the detriment of its existing roaming provider Telefonica. 1&1 customers will move to the Vodafone network over the course of 2025.

One way or another, Vodafone is preparing for an increase in traffic on its networks, be it from its own customers, those of a rival, or unmanned drones taking to the skies.

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