Why did you decide to become involved in the Connected Skies event with GUTMA?
As the skies become ever more digital, the need to consider the role of mobile technology in aviation grows. UAS traffic management (UTM) is an opportunity for us to explore how we can extend mobile networks into areas where they are currently not present, and we see GUTMA as a good partner for us in this conversation.
Why is the Connected Skies event important to you?
This will be the second Connected Skies event, the first of which we participated in as a sponsor – and that first event in Portland, which brought the mobile and aviation worlds together for the first time, was a clear success. The cooperation initiated there between GUTMA and GSMA IoT Programme helped us to embark on this vital conversation between mobile and aviation stakeholders, with about three hundred people taking part on each of the three days. With this second edition of Connected Skies we want to focus on strengthening the bridge between these two worlds.
What is the significance of 5G to the UTM and drone worlds?
The advent of 5G will bring with it infrastructure which caters for much more specific utilisation by different industries, such as the automotive industry and other transport sectors, for the first time. Each sector has different challenges, but we think 5G has the capability to be shaped specifically to support each industry.
What kind of connectivity networks are available now and how will they evolve over the next five years?
Each mobile operator deploys its own network and already has many different types of users, but by having common standards via GSMA guidelines, interoperability is guaranteed. The 4G networks that we use now for mobile phones are going to be pretty much the same systems that we will use to help manage drone flights, as it has already been demonstrated by some mobile operators; there have already been many instances of drones being flown via 4G, and we believe that mobile networks are well suited to support a regulated system for identification and tracking.
Our primary goal is to utilise existing infrastructure to best support drone and UTM needs, and ensure that existing customers are still properly served. For most services 4G might be enough to support the required telemetry and payload requirements, but we expect that for some services or operations we may need to move further into 5G, which will have the bandwidth to support many more capabilities. So, for us it’s important to start having an understanding of what we can do with the current network, including validating the business case. From there we can start to move forward and develop a strategic plan to provide full support to drone operations.
This is a space where we can understand each other better: we speak a different language and we have completely different regulated systems, so coming together in this manner is a perfect way to help us continue to bridge the conversation.
Barbara Pareglio is IoT Technical Director – GSMA IoT Programme