Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) developed 5G drone technology to support rescue teams in remote areas across the UK, teaming up with an emergency unit in one region of England for initial deployments. 

The company stated it developed a small base station for drone use cases, enabling reliable 5G connectivity using a network of low Earth orbit satellites to reach rural areas where rescue teams lack access to traditional mobile networks. 

VMO2 stated rescue teams in the region of Warwickshire had begun deploying the technology, making it easier to locate those in danger and access critical information in real time. 

The search unit responded to 65 calls in 2022, up 45 per cent from 2020. 

VMO2 believes drone technology can be a critical tool for search missions at a time when it states an individual is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK.

Head of technical trials at VMO2 David Owens said the project is “a further example of how fresh thinking and 5G technologies can be combined to provide real societal benefits”, enabling emergency services to make faster and more decisive choices. 

Steve Brown, trustee and search technician at Warwickshire Search and Rescue, added 5G drones are a “powerful tool for our team to understand and assess a situation immediately, saving crucial time in life-threatening situations”.