CTIA: Petition for 5030-5091 MHz service rules for UAS not worthy of NPRM

AT&T drone
AT&T's all-weather drone can see through obstacles, fly through rain, operate in extreme temperatures and communicate in areas without infrastructure. (AT&T)

CTIA says there are too many problems with an Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) petition calling for unmanned aviation system (UAS) service rules for the 5030-5091 MHz band for the FCC to even contemplate a commencing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on it.

In comments submitted Wednesday (PDF), CTIA reiterated its concerns about the AIA petition, saying a lot of commenters agree that the commission’s first foray into UAS service rules should provide flexibility to accommodate the ever-evolving nature of UAS operations.

The association previously noted (PDF) that UAS operations supported by the nation’s wireless networks offer great promise for a variety of sectors, from infrastructure inspection and public safety to package delivery and mapping. In CTIA’s view, proposals made by the AIA in its petition for service rules for the 5030-5091 MHz band could compromise this potential.

Before moving forward with the AIA Petition, the FCC should take account of the broader UAS context and consider approaches for the 5030-5091 MHz band and other potential UAS spectrum that are flexible, forward-looking, and technology-neutral, according to CTIA.

The AIA in February of this year submitted a petition asking the commission to initiate a rulemaking proceeding leading to the adoption of licensing and service rules for Control and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) links in the 5030-5091 MHz band for command and control operations to support UAS operations.  

CTIA argues that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to UAS spectrum solutions, as UAS operations vary significantly and their spectrum needs are not homogenous. Networked cellular, satellite, other licensed and unlicensed bands and hybrid approaches, including the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 1.7 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 5.9 GHz bands, are all available and suitable to meet the needs of UAS at varying altitudes, the association said.

Wireless operators increasingly have been using drones to check equipment after natural disasters or storms, measure network quality and even check conditions in busy venues like stadiums.

Late last month, AT&T’s Art Pregler blogged about the all-weather Flying COW (cell on wings) that had taken a successful first public flight in Bedminster, New Jersey, during a demo there.

The all-weather Flying COW also took flight in Redmond, Washington, when engineering students at the University of Washington used it to test LTE antennas they designed to connect on AT&T drones. That flight was the first time the new all-weather Flying COW took on live LTE test traffic.

RELATED: Verizon tests ‘flying cell site’ as part of emergency preparedness efforts

Verizon also has been devoting considerable resources into drones and what they can do for the operator, as well as its customers.

Last year, Verizon staged an emergency preparedness demo with more than 20 of its technology partners to showcase what they can do for first responders in all sorts of potential real-life situations, including tornadoes and subway terror attacks. Drones can be sent into flooded neighborhoods, for example, to identify where people need to be rescued.