18 Nov Australian Compliance for Radio or LTE Enabled Drones
Australian Compliance for Radio Controlled or LTE Enabled Drones
The exponential adoption of drones both recreationally and commercially is undeniable. Drones are increasingly being utilised for a variety of applications including but not limited to drone deliveries, mapping, industrial inspections and for security. They in most cases require a radio link operating on either a 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz frequency to communicate with a ground control station. These frequencies have distinct distance and range limitations.
However, with an ever-increasing requirement for drones to perform their intended applications Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), there is a demand for drone platforms to operate over cellular networks to enable greater operating distances. 4G or 5G LTE networks can offer drones the ability to operate BVLOS undeniably increasing the use cases and unlocking the full potential of the drone technology. Therefore an awareness of the Australian Compliance regulations for Radio Controlled or LTE Enabled Drones must be understood.
Are frequencies utilised by Drones Regulated?
Radio spectrum is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 1 Hz to 3000 GHz (3 THz). Electromagnetic waves in this frequency range, called radio waves, have become widely used in modern technology, particularly in telecommunications. The spectrum is divided into different frequency bands, and each band has been allocated for a specific application ranging from aeronautical and maritime communication to AM and FM radio stations. Hence drones utilising any frequency including 2.4GHz/5.8GHz, WiFi, 4G LTE must fall within the appropriate frequency allocation.
In Australia, the Radiofrequency spectrum is managed and regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) whose main purpose is to manage Australia’s spectrum at a local and international level. This ensures it is used effectively and minimises interference between bands and services.
Why is it important to regulate how products can operate?
SAFETY. Regulators around the world want to ensure that products are built to safety standards that are not going to cause harm to people or impact on existing radiofrequency frameworks. This could be in the form of mitigating the risk from devices that are emitting higher than approved levels of radiation for instance. Another consideration is that the device is not hampering the functionality of another device by causing interference which could impact directly on such things as communications utilised by emergency services.
Devices that utilise the telecommunications network need to ensure that they do not have the ability to jam the network which could lead to emergency communications being disabled or degraded putting the general public who rely on these networks for public safety at risk. This could also impact emergency service communications leading to dire consequences.
What is Required to Gain certification?
RCM or the Regulatory Compliance Mark is a standard that once obtained illustrates that the product complies with Australian requirements for the following:-
- Electrical Safety
- Electromagnetic energy (EME) / Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
- Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
Are there penalties for non-compliant devices that enter the Australian Market?