The license announced today applies to airspace in eastern China. Other details are unclear at this point, including the drone types permitted, which cities will see the first deliveries, or when such services will be offered. SF Express didn’t immediately respond to Quartz’s questions.

Skeptics don’t see much business potential for drone-based deliveries in China’s remote areas. More than 80% of the logistics orders in China occur on the east coast, logistics consultant Xu Yong recently told Beijing News (link in Chinese). Meanwhile most of the tests conducted have been in rural areas, he added, or in places where drone-based deliveries could be accomplished with relative ease. He questioned how useful such services would be in larger cities, where alternatives are plentiful and well established.

Regardless, Chinese firms are rushing to offer deliveries via drone, driven in part by China’s e-commerce boom. Given the nation’s size and uneven development, the appeal of faster deliveries to remote areas, preferably without the cost of human labor, is easy to see., China’s second-largest e-commerce player, has been testing drones carrying products to northern rural areas. And it wants to build 185 drone ports in China’s mountainous southwest region—doing so, it believes, can cut its logistics costs there by more than half (link in Chinese).

In Zhejiang province, the logistics affiliate of e-commerce titan Alibaba, Cainiao, recently used drones to deliver tea leaves from mountain slopes direct to processing centers below, quickening the time to market (link in Chinese). That followed an earlier test (link in Chinese) to deliver goods to residents of islands off the coast of Fujian province.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.