Dutch telecoms company KPN launches 5G network checker for drone operators

The Dutch telecommunications and IT provider KPN has launched a special 5G network checker. “The communication link between the drone and the (remote) controller is crucial for the execution of a safe drone operation,” explains Ellen Aartsen, lead innovation at KPN. “Certainly when it comes to a BVLOS operation. For example, KPN facilitates the control of the ANWB Medical Drone Service.” To build in even more security, a special value-added service also offers Application Priority, so that the crucial communication link with the drone is given priority over other network traffic. “This way we are able to support safe BVLOS flights over the mobile network.”

KPN launched the checker during Amsterdam Drone Week in March 2022.

Aartsen is Lead Innovation at KPN’s corporate Strategy and Development department and responsible for setting the growth agenda of KPN and executing this agenda. Topics on this agenda are platform business models, secure data exchanges and mission and business critical services. Drone connectivity and new value-add services to facilitate UAM are part of these new mission and business critical services. She is also a Board Member of the Dutch Drone Delta, a cooperation between public and non-public organizations that aims to enable and accelerate the development of the UAM ecosystem in the Netherlands.

During ADW hybrid KPN also launched the drone coverage checker for drone operators who want to carry out BVLOS flights. “You can see that as a route planner in the air. Operators prepare a flight plan and a Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) in advance. That is still manual work, but with our network checker they can easily choose the best route with the most stable 5G network in advance. For a flight, the optimal route is predicted based on our coverage. A coverage analysis for UTM, so to speak.”

Because KPN’s 5G network has been developed at ‘human height’, the coverage higher in the air can sometimes be less good, Aartsen explains. “Parties that already operate BVLOS flights, such as the ANWB, ask us for a safe flight plan. We offer this with the drone coverage checker.
In the Netherlands, KPN is the only one that offers this service. “We are investing in this because we consider BVLOS flights with drones to be an important social issue. It contributes to sustainable mobility and economy,” says Aartsen.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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