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Connecting the skies: BT Group elevates UK drone industry with first-of-its-kind drone SIM

BT Drone SIM
Picture credits: BT

The drone market in the UK has a significant potential for growth. The country’s robust economy and its global influence in various fields make it an ideal environment for the drone industry to thrive. Taking this growth to a step ahead, BT Group, a British fixed and mobile telecommunications service provider has announced the launch of the UK’s first Drone SIM. 

Takes drones to new heights

This one-of-its-kind SIM will unlock the true potential of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOs) drone operation across the UK. The SIM will use EE’s network and has been designed to function at high altitudes, the company said in a statement, adding it is resistant to extreme temperatures and humidity, supporting drone applications in any season.

It will also enable high-priority and ultra-responsive connectivity and improved video streaming quality, allowing drones to deliver detailed imagery and video for various use cases. As per BT Group, this new Drone SIM represents a dramatic shift from using local Wi-Fi or radio transmissions, enabling drones to travel significant distances while staying connected.

Availability of Drone SIM

Earlier this year, Etc., the incubation team in BT Group’s Digital unit entered into a £5 million deal with Altitude Angel to help build the UK’s first drone superhighway. The launch of Drone SIM follows a series of successful trials and development by the Etc. team. Trials include critical infrastructure inspection with drone technology provider and ability to test BVLOS mission safety standards in an integrated airspace with turnkey Uncrewed Aerial System providers Skylift. 

The SIM will be available for BT’s enterprise clients, with the company citing delivery of medical supplies, search and rescue operations and infrastructure inspection as potential deployments. Drone SIM has also powered a UK-first drone medical delivery trial with aerial logistics specialist Skyfarer.

Dave Pankhurst, Director of Drones, BT, said, “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.”

Eduardo Aldaz-Carroll, Chief Technology Officer,, stated, “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. It’s great to be working with BT Group to develop the technologies required to roll out BVLOS drone inspection and monitoring at scale.”

Nick Ruggles, Chief Technology Officer, Skylift stated, “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”.

Georgia Hanrahan, Chief Operations Officer at Skyfarer commented, “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.”

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