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Report

Report

Nov 13, 2017

Commercial Wireless Networks: The Essential Foundation of the Drone Industry .

Commercial Wireless Networks: The Essential Foundation of the Drone Industry document cover

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Today, more than 800,000 UAVs, otherwise known as drones, are registered in the United States. While hobbyists or recreational users make up the vast majority of drone users today, commercial drone applications promise economic opportunities and broader benefits for consumers and society. In the United States alone, drone commerce is expected to add more than $80 billion to the economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

For the U.S. to realize the full potential of drones, policymakers and industry need to work together to craft a regulatory environment that encourages commercial drone deployment. In the coming months, policymakers will address a critical issue: determining how drones will communicate—with each other, with other devices, with their surroundings—and then create standards and processes reflecting this decision.

Thankfully, the answer is clear: policymakers should endorse the use of commercial wireless networks for drone communications. These networks, powered by licensed spectrum, provide the coverage, reliability, security, and service quality needed for safe commercial drone applications.

To that end, policymakers should take action in three primary areas:

• First, the FAA should endorse use of commercial wireless networks as the preferred communications platform for small, low-altitude UAVs. This begins with the FAA recommendation to use these networks as one of the viable technologies for remote tracking and identification of UAS by law enforcement, and continues with FAA recognition of wireless networks as suitable to provide safe and reliable command and control
functionality for small, low-altitude UAVs.

• Second, policymakers need to work with industry to create a unified national framework for FAA
management of drone airspace. A consistent, risk-based regulatory framework is essential.

• Third, policymakers should ensure that wireless network operators can build the networks needed for drones by freeing up more spectrum for licensed use, encouraging broadband infrastructure deployment, and promoting the testing of commercial wireless networks to support low-altitude UAV communications.

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