BT releases Drone SIM to allow UAV’s to operate beyond line of sight

BT releases Drone SIM to allow UAV’s to operate beyond line of sight


BT has announced the launch of the UK’s first drone SIM in a first for the UK market.

Drone piloting has been limited to line-of-sight radio transmission or local Wi-Fi to operate, but the new solution from BT will allow unmanned ariel vehicles to travel greater distances at their full capability whilst remaining in constant communication with their remote pilots and safety systems.

Using BT Group’s EE network, Drone SIM benefits from high priority and ultra responsive connectivity, enabling safety, control, telemetry and realising ultra-high definition (UHD) video streaming at altitude. This enables drone users to capture detailed, survey quality imagery and video for a wide range of purposes, from search and rescue to infrastructure inspection.

BT Business customers will be the first to access the new solution, which offers unlimited data plans.

“Following the successful trials of our Drone SIM over the past year, this announcement is a huge stepping stone in bringing drone connectivity to businesses across the UK, unlocking potential for more efficient processes, business transformation and, with the ability to power search and rescue missions and medical deliveries, helping to save lives,” said Dave Pankhurst, Director of Drones at BT.

BT said Etc., its digital start-up and incubation arm, has demonstrated its role in innovating the drone industry through historic relationships, pointing to its £5 million deal with Altitude Angel to help build the UK’s first drone superhighway.

Trials of the product included use cases such as critical infrastructure inspection and medical delivery.

Etc. partnered with drone technology provider for critical infrastructure inspection.

“It’s vitally important to inspect our critical national energy infrastructure. Drones offer significant benefits by increasing the speed, efficiency and consistency of data capture so we can predict the future state of the asset with reduced risk and environmental impact,” said Eduardo Aldaz-Carroll, CTO at

“It’s great to be working with BT Group to develop the technologies required to roll out BVLOS (beyond visual line of site) drone inspection and monitoring at scale,”

BT partnered with uncrewed aerial system providers Skylift to test BVLOS mission safety standards, in an integrated airspace.

“BT's Telecoms Grade C2 links have halved our deployment setup times. With recurring costs at just 14% of other systems and virtually zero infrastructure expenses, this is a game changer for us,” Nick Ruggles, CTO at Skylifts said.

The technology was used for a UK first drone-medical delivery trial in partnership with aerial logistics specialist Skyfarer.

"With the Drone SIM powering BVLOS flight, we can take a 20 minute flight between two hospitals and reduce this to a more direct 8 minute flight. Perfect for time-sensitive deliveries. We estimate a wider scale roll out nationwide could reduce our delivery time by 60% compared to road transport," Georgia Hanrahan, COO at Skyfarer said.

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