Ofcom has proposed new licensing rules aimed at supporting the use of drones for commercial purposes.
The regulator currently allows drones to use airwaves designated for model aircraft or for Wi-Fi. While this doesn’t require a licence, it’s unsuitable for the services offered by the latest generation of drones.
As a result Ofcom has been supporting trials that have enabled organisations to research, develop and test new types of wireless equipment on drones, including Royal Mail’s exploration of using drones to make deliveries to remote communities; and the use of drones in industrial settings to inspect, monitor and maintain machinery.
Following the results of these projects, it’s proposing to authorise the use of a range of technologies to support drone use which is not currently permitted today.
The CAA sets out the rules governing how and where commercial drones can be flown safely. Along with the Government, it is currently developing a framework for how they can be integrated into UK airspace.
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.
Helen Hearn, Ofcom’s Spectrum Interim Group Director, said: “Commercial drones have the potential to bring a whole host of benefits, such as delivering vital supplies or assisting search and rescue operations in remote locations.
“We want to ensure that businesses pioneering these projects can access the spectrum they need to harness the full potential of the latest drone technology.”