The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on January 4th, 2023. The NPRM from the FCC seeks comments from individuals and groups related to Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) communications in the 5030-5091 MHz Band.
Purpose of the NPRM process
The purpose of an NPRM is to announce an agency’s plan to address a problem or accomplish a goal. All NPRMs are published in the Federal Register to notify the public and provide individuals and organizations the opportunity to submit comments. The final rule is based on the proposed rule and comments received during the comment period.
NPRM: UAS C2 in the 5030-5091 MHz Band
According to the press release from the FCC, the NPRM seeks comment service rules for the 5030-5901 MHz band that would provide UAS operators with access to licensed spectrum with the reliability necessary to support safety-critical UAS communications links. The NPRM from the FCC also seeks comments on:
- If FCC’s rules for various flexible-use spectrum bands are sufficient to ensure the co-existence of terrestrial mobile operations and UAS use.
- If the changes to the FCC’s rules are necessary to prevent or mitigate interference and performance concerns.
To promote the safe integration of UAS operations in controlled airspace and facilitate flight coordination, the NPRM proposes a process for UAS operators to obtain a license in the aeronautical VHF band to communicate with air traffic control and other aircraft while maintaining the integrity of the band. This NPRM was developed as part of an ongoing collaboration with the FAA and NTIA. The NPRM also included collaboration within the formal Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee process.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks commented on the NPRM by saying, “Of course, even as far as the Commission’s role is concerned, securing a vibrant future for UAS isn’t about just one frequency band. That’s why I’m pleased to see us incorporate other critical issues related to drone operations into this notice of proposed rulemaking. Consistent with industry and academic interest and ongoing standards-setting efforts, we’re exploring 5G as a UAS platform and the broader use of cellular bands for drone applications. We’re also proposing a way to license drone communications with air traffic control.”
Attached to this news article is the NPRM adopted by the FCC on December 23, 2022, and released on January 4, 2023.