Insights Ofcom confirms it will start issuing spectrum licences for essential drone safety and communications equipment


Ofcom says that the decision to issue the spectrum licences will mean that new and innovative commercial services delivered by drones will be able to take to the skies from January 2023.

Ofcom notes that advances in technology have led to drones increasing in size and complexity, and flying over longer distances, in some cases travelling beyond the sight of the operator. This has created a range of commercial opportunities across several industries, from delivery of medical supplies to remote areas, to use in search and rescue operations. However, Ofcom says, long-distance, higher-altitude drones still need to be controlled and send back data or video to the operator.

Working with the Government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ofcom has developed a new approach for authorising the radio equipment needed to communicate with these drones. Companies will be able to apply for a new type of spectrum licence from 20 January 2023, allowing companies to use mobile and satellite networks to enable their drone fleets to operate a wider range of services and over longer distances. For further information, click here.