Insights Ofcom consults on new licensing regime for commercial drones


Ofcom explains 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 doorstep deliveries to machinery maintenance. However, long-distance, high-altitude drones still need to be controlled from the ground and have to send back data or video to the operator.

Ofcom has been working closely with the Government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to develop a new approach for authorising the radio equipment needed on these drones. It is proposing to introduce new spectrum licences that allow operators to use mobile and satellite networks to achieve this. Ofcom’s new licences would also authorise the use of safety equipment to enable drones to operate safely in UK airspace. This should enable the CAA and Department for Transport to further progress their wider airspace policy proposals, including the framework for how commercial drones can be integrated into UK airspace.

The consultation closes on 5 September 2022. To access the consultation, click here.