As part of its intentions to employ drones to assess sites and plan the next wave of tower rollouts for its forthcoming 5G network installations, Reliance Jio is conducting a pilot around tower surveillance and upkeep.
The Mukesh Ambani-led telco is using its three-year-old shareholding in drone producer Asteria Aerospace to test use cases for drone tower maintenance to save time and money. Drones will be utilized to verify the health of towers and Jio’s assets installed on them during the pilot.
Word from Neel Mehta
Director & Co-Founder of Asteria Aerospace, Neel Mehta said: “With the number of towers in the country poised to double over the next few years, digitalizing tower surveillance will play a crucial role.”
As per the sources, Jio’s parent company, Reliance Industries (RIL), purchased a 51.78 percent ownership in the drone manufacturer for Rs23.12 crore ($3.3 million) in 2019, with plans to invest an additional Rs 125 crore to boost its stake to 87.3 percent.
Drones, according to Mehta, save time and money. Companies can cut surveying time by roughly 30-40%, and while drones will not be less expensive than sending a human up a tower, the value gained will be nearly 30% higher.
Jio and Tower Companies
Tower companies that offer tower infrastructure or telecoms that have put electronics on the towers can both use drones, according to industry analysts. Mehta said: “You can use them even before a tower is set up to survey the potential site for erecting a tower… they are also being used to check for damages, and even optimize tower usage to maximize monetization.”
According to another source familiar with the situation, it states that Jio has no immediate plans to establish expertise in the drone ecosystem, but it does seek to maximize synergies under the umbrella of firms it has invested in to develop new goods and services.
RIL also bought an 83 percent share in SankhyaSutra Labs, which produces simulation software for aviation, including drones, in 2019. The SankhyaSutra stake purchase cost RIL Rs 216 crore. Moreover, SankhyaSutra generated various simulations that Asteria Aerospace used when designing their drone-based tower upkeep service.