…As Commission, stakeholders’ brainstorm on regulation of drone deployment
The Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, in Lagos Wednesday, called on the National Assembly to deploy the same speed it used in delivering the just signed 2020 national budget in the legislative work on the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill that had over-stayed with it.
Speaking while declaring open a one-day stakeholders’ consultative forum on regulation of drones deployment in Lagos, the former lawmaker said “The rising cases of vandalism and illegal access to telecoms facilities across the federation by both criminals and some state agencies’ has become a source of concerns for operators’.
“I urge the National Assembly to expedite action in the passage of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) Bill into law so that rate of vandalism and undue lockdown by some overzealous agencies of state and local governments will end.
Business Hilights recalls that in an interview, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, had argued that telecoms infrastructure should be seen as critical equipment just like the oil pipelines, as well as PHCN and NITEL (Nigerian Telecommunications Limited) facilities.
He said that the telecommunication industry supports many other economic sectors of the economy and is also the first layer of critical infrastructure for socio-economic development and security and so it is pertinent for telecoms facilities to have first-level protection from the government.
According to him, “Telecommunications development in Nigeria is playing an integral role in the country. Telecommunication services have greatly improved our quality of life as a people. From basic voice call to Internet services to numerous value-added features offered by our members. But despite the progress made, we are still facing a number of environmental problems in particular on the issues of interference with the smooth operations of telecom services.”
He said incidents of closure of ALTON members’ sites and other telecommunications infrastructure on the excuse of non-payment of arbitrarily imposed taxes and levies imposed by states and local government authorities in the guise of internally-generated revenue (IGR) is having adverse effects on quality of service.
On the issue of the regulation of drone deployment and the spectrum perspective which was the theme of the stakeholders’ forum, Senator Durojaiye said “It has become very imperative to begin the process of regulating drone deployment, considering the fact that its use is dependent on spectrum to avoid instances of abuse by wrong people.”
Earlier in his speech, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said “The objective of this forum is to bring to your attention, the effort of the Commission at providing requisite Spectrum for the deployment of drones’ technology and to listen your views on the subject matter.”
“There will also be a presentation of the reviewed guidelines on the use of 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands respectively to accommodate the emerging technology.
According to him, “Having a world class view, is a standard practice of the Commission to consult with Operators, Investors, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure optimal decisions on every subject matter, in this case Spectrum. This is with a view to achieving regulatory excellence and operational efficiency amongst others. It is our belief that
He assured discussants that “Our actions must be guided by decisions that take into consideration the input from all stakeholders so as to achieve our desired goal.
Prof Danbatta, represented by Mr Adeleke Adewolo, also recalled that regulating use of drones has become pertinent considering the myriad of challenges faced by the country especially on issues of vandalism of critical national infrastructure, kidnapping, insurgencies, terrorism and others which the regulated use of drones can assist in combating effectively.
Earlier, the Director, Spectrum Administration at the Commission, Engr Dr Austin Nwaulune said “As you may know, Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) Technology otherwise known as the 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, etc.
“The security of any nation typically involves conducting consistent surveys of potential flashpoints in order To ensure
“The protection of the populace and the entire environment using drones, in this case, could be an interesting idea. This reduces manual labour and affords a wider field of view. This also does not hamper the normal lives of the people, as they do not have to enter these dangerous areas themselves rather the drones will enter and get credible data for analysis and use.
According to him, “Drones have a lot of potential in terms of law enforcement these devices have the innate ability to hover around locations without drawing much attention from the people. Thus, this can be used for surveillance or for public safety.
“One of the most important applications for these drones lies in disaster management. It is often seen that there is utter chaos and mismanagement of resources soon after a disaster, be it man-made or natural calamity. Drones could help significantly by coordinating valuable resources and eliminating the need for a vast amount of manpower, these drones could be of great help immediately following a disaster, to save lives.
“Today, the world of commerce has really conquered the idea of using drones to its fullest extent. The shipping and delivery of applications of drones have revolutionized the world of shipping delivery, significantly improving delivery times and reducing human intervention. Be it delivering pizzas, letters, or even small parcels, these programmed drones could do the work excellently and efficiently.
“Simply put, drones can easily reach places that many humans cannot, and this can be invaluable when timely rescues are critical. Usually, a rescue operation is a fight against time. There is usually a need to get the drones to work fast and smoothly. This is where drones come in handy. With the help of thermal sensors, drones can locate lost persons.
They are also especially useful at night or even in challenging terrains.
“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.
However, Dr Nwaulune disclosed that “There are a number of challenges in fully realizing the potential for growth that drones bring with them. One of these challenges is meeting the spectrum requirements for drone. Frequency Spectrum is used for command and control (i.e. sense and avoid) and identification as well as for payload transmissions (e.g. on-board cameras sending information to the ground).”
He revealed that the 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.
The forum attracted technical presentations from local and international experts including Mr Alexis Louis who made presentation on ‘Drones Regulations; The Spectrum Perspective amongst others.