Aviation and Telecommunications come closer together

AirborneRF is TEOCO’s connectivity data platform for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operations in cellular networks. The solution enables information sharing between aviation and telecommunications.  More specifically, how can mobile network operators and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) share information to enable the safe operation of drones in manned airspace?  Historically there has been no linkage here, but in order to ensure safe operation of UAVs with a connection to the air navigation service provider activities there will need to be.

The AirborneRF solution enables an automated data exchanged between the mobile network operator (MNO) and the ANSP.  Examples of the information that can be gathered from the MNO connectivity include command and control information, where is the UAV located, RemoteID functionality and transfer of payload data from the UAV to its user.   The MNO AirborneRF stack can be integrated into the MNO data lake in order for all of the information gathered to be processed within a secure environment taking advantage of the security that is built into MNO networks from years of managing customer data securely.

If you’re wondering why MNOs would want to participate in these topics, this opens new business opportunities for them.  They are able to provide mission critical connectivity and develop a new revenue stream for data that can already be gathered via their networks.  Different services can be provided for different users that are developed in accordance with their requirements.  For example, Public Safety organisations would require an ongoing service to always be ready to address a critical situation.  Whereas, industry users are likely to be more transactional with the requirement only being for times when infrastructure inspections are being conducted and they would like to do so without sending employees physically to these locations.

There is also an Aviation stack available for ANSPs.  It enables multiple users to interface with the data from the MNO.  This is currently available via a joint offering with Frequentis.  There are already some examples of deployment within ANSPs and MNOs.  AustroControl is using the solution integrated with Frequentis to support joint management of UTM/ATM. Looking at the MNO side there are a few to mention:

  • Swisscom is trialing AirborneRF to explore the potential of their cellular network supporting U-space.
  • Telstra Labs is using the solution to assess the readiness of its radio access network to support future UAV applications.These could include communications, navigation, surveillance, safety and identity.
  • T-Mobile USA is providing UAV connectivity data at scale for flight path analytics for planning, clearance and operations.
  • A1 Telekom Austria and Frequentis use drones to identify public safety violations.
  • Verizon is moving toward commercial UAV solutions with its Skyward organisation, AirborneRF is providing them with the information to understand where connectivity for this type of offer exists.

As these industries continue to develop stronger ties, there will be more new business models being implemented.  Following the evolution of telecom plus UTM linking to ATM will enable the scale of UAV in a safe and efficient manner to our airspace.