FCC Hopeful About Drone Spectrum Opportunities

(Image credit: CNN)

WASHINGTON—The FCC has signaled absent some specific issue, flexible-use spectrum can be used to operate drones, but there is a "but."

That came in a report Aug. 27 concluding that the 5030-5091 MHz band supports use of the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

"Absent specific restrictions in the spectrum allocation or service rules, current law does not prohibit UAS communications in the flexible-use bands," the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau said in the report. But it also said that UAS do have the potential to cause harmful interference.

“We are optimistic about the use of flexible-use bands to support UAS operations,” said Ron Repasi, acting chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology, in a statement. “However, we recognize that drone operations on flexible-use spectrum may raise interference issues for co-channel and adjacent-channel networks, so we recommend further work on using these bands for UAS."

The report was required by Congress in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Look for NTIA and the FAA to weigh in on the drone spectrum, said the bureau, since Congress mandated reports from them as well. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio WorldTV TechTV FaxThis Week in Consumer ElectronicsVariety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.