BT connects the skies with UK’s first Drone SIM

BT today announces the launch of the UK’s first Drone SIM to unlock the true potential of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOs) drone operation across the UK.   

Designed to function at altitude using the EE network, Drone SIM offers unlimited data plans and continuous connectivity in the sky. Drone SIM is built to endure vibration, temperature and humidity extremes, supporting all-season drone use. BT business customers will be the first to benefit from the Drone SIM which has the potential to transform industries, from urgent delivery of medical supplies to infrastructure monitoring and transportation of goods. 

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. 

Drone SIM is pushing the limits of drone flight. With the largest geographic coverage in the UK, uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) can now fly significant distances at their full capability whilst remaining in constant communication with their remote pilots and safety systems; a dramatic shift from a world where they were limited by line-of-sight radio transmission or local Wi-Fi. This innovation presents a key opportunity across industry, from urgent delivery of medical supplies to infrastructure monitoring and transportation of goods.  

Etc., the Digital start-up and incubation arm of BT Group, has demonstrated its role in innovating the drone industry through historic relationships, such as its £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 sees.ai, plus the ability to test BVLOS mission safety standards in integrated airspace with turnkey Uncrewed Aerial System providers Skylift. 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, sees.ai, states “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 states, “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”.

Drone SIM is available today via www.bt.com/drones