OFCOM are currently carrying out a consultation about the introduction of a new spectrum licence for drone operators.
The majority of drones used in day-to-day flying are covered by an exemption which allows low-power 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz to be used without licence and this currently remains unaffected.
The new licence is focused more on drone operators who are intending on using mobile and satellite technologies to carry out BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations, allowing the use of a public mobile network and enabling technological solutions which are not currently permitted under existing licensing.
More About the Regulations
Ofcom is the regulator for the UK airwaves, managing use of the available spectrum, and the licensing of it, where appropriate as demand for frequencies is ever growing. In the same way that licences are required for all manner of telecommunications, from maritime radio, TV, radio microphones, mobile technology etc, a new spectrum licence is being created specifically for drone operations which are not permitted under current processes.
According to Ofcom, this will allow such developments as:
- “mobile and satellite terminals for control and transmission of data and video; and
- safety equipment to enable the UAS to avoid collisions and integrate safely into the UK’s airspace.”
What Will the Fee Be Used For?
It is expected that the licence would be used to cover equipment which may be required by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) when assessing the risk mitigations, situational awareness and communication links of BVLOS permissions.
The suggested fee for a licence is £75 annually, allowing the connection of mobile technology within the designated spectrum
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