Safesky and Mobile Network Providers


I have started a thread discussing Safesky on the forum of the UK GA magazine, Flyer. I’m prevented from including links so look for forums flyer co uk and choose General Aviation, then Do We Need Radar?.

My view is Safesky represents a major step forward in safety and effectiveness of general aviation, and more commercial aviation operating in environments where other collision avoidance is not available. There is some interest in how Safesky, and such things as SkyDemon, cooperate with mobile providers.

If you can comment on some of the questions listed below, I will post your responses on the forum.

  1. Do you liaise with network providers to clarify how they view airborne use of their networks given they do not expect transmitters to be above ground level. They might be pleased about what you are doing (people may purchase additional SIMs to make use of Safesky etc) or they may view this as disruptive to the network as it may create traffic management problems since the operation is outside their design limits.
  2. If you do liaise with them, are they helpful? Do they provide any technical guidance of how to utilize network facilities to best meet your service needs? Do they let you know about planned and imminent changes that might affect your app?
  3. Do they provide you with any information about current and future coverage plans?
  4. In the UK there is an initiative called ESN which will replace special mobile provision for emergency services . Of interest is that it aims to cover aircraft up to 10000 feet and appears to partly use 4G. As it stands one would assume it may not be accessible to ordinary mobile/tablet users but it might be relatively easy to make some of its coverage available to safety systems like Safesky. Have you seen this, and do you see any possibilities of how this might extend Safesky coverage?

Thanks a lot for your interest in demystifying SafeSky, this is very much appreciated.

In a nutshell, there is indeed a strong interest from telecom operators in extending what their 4G/5G network can be used for. SafeSky has been engaging discussions with several operators, including Proximus, Vodafone, and KPN - in connection with NATS in the UK.

The motivation to use GSM technology is far above simle eConspicuity. There is an expectation to provide full range of services for the drone market, including streaming video, for instance, to monitor rails, wing turbines, medical services, and goods transportation…

All telco operators have today an internal R&D drone department behing very active.

As far as SafeSky is concerned today, we are not disrupting any networks at all, given the ‘niche’ market of GA and ultra-lights. In addition, third-party apps running in the background of your phone or tablets are operating no matter what, given that you always have your phone with you when you fly. Such apps are consume far more bandwidth (in comparisons, one hour of SafeSky flight fits on a 3.5-inch floppy disk for those who remember this :-).

With the rise of U-Space in the rest of Europe, EASA has officially recognized three means of being conspicuous with the new ADS-L protocol:

  • Over 1090 (certified)

  • SRD860 (over the free license frequency)

  • Using mobile technology (with ADS-L over the internet) - which is how SafeSky is collaboratively working with a dozen of third-party compatible apps, such as Air Nav Pro, EasyVFR, Gaggle, etc…

The conclusion is that SafeSky is definitely raising interests from telcos who are looking at commercial opportunities to extend their services for the drone market.

Lastly, it’s interesting to highlight that for GA conspicuity, the internet in a few years from not may not come from the well known telco directly, but from the Sky. See this initiative between StarLink and T-Mobile for 6 months now: dedicated GSM antennas are now part of the Starlink Satellites to provide regular GSM connectivity to regular phones. Similar tracks have been announced by Amazon and Iris for Europe. The day this becomes a commodity, internet in the sky will significantly change how we fly :slight_smile:

That’s extremely interesting, Tristan. Many, many thanks for your help. We’ll see what the Flyer community make of all that :slightly_smiling_face:

I think in the future mobile GSM connective is going to be through satelites. The Starlink provides this already for example but expensive this momemt . These old GSM ground stations is outdated Technology and are going to fade away in the future.