By Omobayo Azeez
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has converged stakeholders to review the guidelines on the use of the 2.4 and 5.8 GHZ bands as the frequency for deployment of drones and other emerging technologies in Nigeria.
The government agency said unmanned aerial role in vehicle (UAV) simply known as drone would find more applications in various aspect of national development in the future, hence the need to regulate its usage to safeguard against abuse.
Speaking at the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on regulation of drones with spectrum perspective and presentation of the reviewed guidelines on 2.4 GHZ and 5.8 GHZ Spectrum held in Lagos on Wednesday, the director, spectrum administration NCC, Engr. (Dr.) Austin Nwaulune noted that deployment of drones has increased in the country over the years.
He said: “The drone market is scaling rapidly and delivering enriched services in the process. The wealth of new applications of this new technology and the role that stakeholders can play is very critical.
“This forum has been organized to bring together all stakeholders featuring drone experts, operators, law enforcement agencies and business representatives to discuss and share their views on development trends and innovative applications of drone industry as well as the technicalities associated with deployments of drones relates to spectrum from the standpoint of Spectrum use.”
He noted that there are a number of challenges in fully realizing the potential for growth that drones bring with them, one of which is meeting the spectrum requirements for drone.
He said frequency spectrum is used for command and control, that is sense and avoid; and identification as well as for payload transmissions such as on-board cameras sending information to the ground.
“Currently, the Nigerian Communications Commission in its effort to optimize usage and benefits of the spectrum is advancing the administrative standards by establishing technical parameters to use the 2.4 and 5.8 GHZ bands as the frequency for deployment of drones and other emerging technologies.
“Over the years, the Commission has had guidelines on both the use of 2.4 GHZ and 5.8 GHz Bands for Wireless Access System (WAS). And these are all license-exempt bands (ISM Bands) which studies have shown to be suitable for drone’s deployment globally.”
Nwaulune noted however, that the prevailing guidelines on the use of 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz band do not cover the general requirements for the control of drones and payload links such as on-board cameras, sensors, etc. with technical parameters such as transmitting power, coverage distance, modulation schemes among others that were not envisaged at the time the existing guidelines were being crafted.
“In view of this development and in line with the Commission’s agenda of optimizing the full benefit of spectrum, facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership so as to ensure regulatory excellence and operational efficiency, the Commission invited all stakeholders and key representatives from the Communications sector to share and constructively exchange ideas and discuss how to foster innovation and growth in the industry.
“As you may know, Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) Technology otherwise known as drone has gone through massive development in recent years, and the market for drones shows exponential growth, similar to all other significant new technologies.
“Drones have found application in several areas that are contributing to the development of nations. These include security surveillance, shipping and delivery, disaster management, rescue operations, and healthcare, archaeological surveys, geographic mapping, law enforcement, safety inspection, agriculture, wildlife monitoring.”
Also speaking at the forum, the board chairman of the NCC, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, said the commission would do all within its capacity to support security agencies with the required technologies to ease their operation.
On the drone regulation project, the NCC is working with Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Institute of ICT Engineers (NIICTE), the Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), among others.
Meanwhile, representative from NCAA, Nwafor Martins, emphasized the need for stronger synergy among stakeholders especially the NCC, ONSA and NCAA in establishing an all-encompassing regulatory framework that will stipulate the roles of each agency and the interplay among them without friction.