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Verizon’s push into the internet of things soared to new heights on Thursday with the purchase of a drone operations-management company.

The acquisition of Skyward – a private company based in Portland, Oregon – builds on the telecom group’s drive for widespread adoption of drones operating on its wireless network. Over the last year, commercial drone use has taken flight, as companies find new uses as diverse as sniffing for oil leaks to delivering packages.

“Drones are becoming an essential tool for improving business processes at large companies, but scalability has been a challenge,” said Skyward founder Jonathan Evans.

With the acquisition, Mr Evans said businesses would be able to “efficiently and safely scale drones across multiple divisions and hundreds of use cases”.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, though the purchase will add to Verizon’s top line. Revenue in its internet-of-things business approached $1bn in 2016. In October the company also announced data plans for drones.

Skyward’s platform handles end-to-end activities including mission planning, complex workflow, regulation compliance and registration.

Mike Lanman, Verizon senior vice-president of enterprise products, added the purchase would build on plans in its Airborne LTE Operations initiative, announced last quarter.

“This acquisition is a natural progression of our core focus on operating in innovative, high-growth markets, leveraging our network … and services to simplify the drone industry,” he said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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