Spectrum Management Issues for the Operation of Commercial Services with UAVs

12 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2017 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017

See all articles by Carlos Caicedo

Carlos Caicedo

Syracuse University - School of Information Studies

Date Written: March 31, 2017


Commercial operations for Unmanned Air Vehicles (a.k.a. Drones) are envisioned to allow new services over civilian airspace and neighborhoods such as package delivery, property inspections, and event photography among others. However, a communications infrastructure that supports the control and air traffic management interactions of these devices beyond line of sight operations is required. This infrastructure will rely on wireless communication links and their associated radio frequency spectrum resources for its implementation. This paper aims to present an analysis of current and upcoming spectrum policy issues that need to be taken into account and will affect UAV operations and their air traffic management in the near future.

We also analyze how traditional cellular bands and equipment that were designed for terrestrial services might not be adequate for supporting UAV operations unless adequate spectrum management techniques are taken into account as a drone-based user terminal can be in range of several base stations at the same time and cause interference in a much wider area than that of a terminal in the ground. We provide a regulatory and technical context for discussions on whether commercial UAV operations can and should be supported by the use of spectrum resources managed and operated by commercial wireless service providers (LTE, 5G) or if assigning a specific frequency band for these operations would be better.

We contrast the pros and cons of each approach under current and future expected technological advances related to spectrum management in order to provide a spectrum policy based view of how commercial UAV operations via small Unmmaned Air Systems (UAS) could take place in the near future with supporting technical information for their feasibility.

Keywords: Spectrum management, Spectrum policy, UAVs, Drones, Wireless communications

Suggested Citation

Caicedo, Carlos, Spectrum Management Issues for the Operation of Commercial Services with UAVs (March 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2944132 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2944132

Carlos Caicedo (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - School of Information Studies ( email )

Hinds Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

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