Unmanned Aircraft Systems may soon use mobile and satellite bands
Dec 10, 2020 by Toby Youell


A lot of spectrum will be needed to make the promise of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) a reality. In the search for bandwidth, UAS advocates are looking beyond the aviation bands discussed in last week’s research note.

As we explain in a new research note, two services in particular seem promising: the fixed-satellite service (FSS), and the mobile service.

WRC-15 provisionally identified eight FSS bands for UAS Command and Non-Payload Communications (CNPS) throughout the Ku- and Ka-Bands. The use of these bands is dependent on standards development work by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and these identifications may change again at WRC-23.

The 3GPP is working on standards to allow UAS to use spectrum assigned to mobile operators. Possible bands include the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1500 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 3.6 GHz and 26 GHz bands. Operators in countries such as the Netherlands, Latvia, and the United States have already started various trials. A potential wrinkle in these plans is a prohibition on aeronautical mobile services at 694 – 960 MHz in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, and 890 – 942 MHz in the Americas. That prohibition will be reviewed at WRC-27. European regulators are also looking at several bands allocated to mobile services but not harmonised for mobile broadband, such as the 1880 – 1900 MHz and 1900 – 1920 MHz.

More information about these initiatives is available in Identification of non-aviation spectrum for unmanned aircraft systems, which is part of our new dossier on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. It is available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.