Jennifer Richter Quoted in GCN on New Drone Spectrum-Use Strategy

Jennifer Richter, a partner in Akin Gump’s communications practice, has been quoted in the Government Computer News (GCN) article “FAA to sort out drone spectrum-use strategy,” which examines the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 signed last week by President Trump. The new law, according to the article, gives three agencies—the FAA, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission—nine months to figure out which spectrum drones should use to communicate.

The legislation, the article reports, points to the L-band and C-band as potential options for communication with drones. It also asks the agencies to determine w spectrum would be appropriate for beyond visual line of sight operations.

Speaking at the recent Internet of Things Global Summit, Richter, who sat on an FAA rulemaking committee, said hobbyist drones mostly use unlicensed bands of spectrum, which can be fine in some cases, but might not be ideal for flights over people or critical assets. “These bands are not secure,” she said. “They can obviously be jammed and spoofed and are subject to interference.” The use of unlicensed spectrum will likely continue in some capacity for recreational use, she added.

Richter said one alternative is network cellular, which has a number of benefits, including the fact that infrastructure already exists. In addition, early studies have shown drones can communicate with the towers even when flying at heights of up to 2,000 feet.