November 27, 2020 Results of Appeal for Opinions on Draft Ministerial Ordinance and Pertinent Conditions for Partial Revisions to Regulations for Procedures for Obtaining a Radio Station License
Institutional development for using mobile phones (4G) over the sky for drones or similar applications
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) drafted a ministerial ordinance and pertinent conditions for partial revisions to Regulations for Procedure for Obtaining a Radio Station License (Radio Regulatory Commission Rules No. 15 of 1950). These revisions will achieve the use of fourth-generation mobile communication system (4G) mobile phones to be mounted on drones or similar applications at altitudes of less than 150 m.
Accordingly, MIC made an appeal for opinions on the drafted revisions from Saturday, October 10 through Wednesday, November 11, 2020. As a result, four opinions were submitted, and MIC has decided to open the opinions to the public, along with MIC’s views on the opinions.
With consideration of the results of the appeal for opinions, MIC will promptly develop the relevant regulations.
If a mobile phone is mounted on a drone or a similar device, and radio waves are emitted from the sky, the radio waves will reach distant mobile phone base stations that use the same frequency. These base stations are in over-the-horizon areas where the radio waves will not reach if a mobile phone is used at usual heights. Therefore, at present, the use of mobile phones over the sky is permitted only for those who have individually obtained practical test station licenses.
With the introduction of the practical test station system, mobile phones can now be used for controlling drones or similar devices and data transmission. However, it is necessary to obtain a license through the application procedure for each mobile phone installed in a drone or a similar device in the practical application test station system. It takes about two months in total, including preparations, from the time when a person who wants to use a drone or a similar device indicates their intention to use it to a mobile phone operator until they can use it. Therefore, with the recent usage expansion of drones or similar devices, it is required to simplify the procedure and shorten the period until operating them.
Against this background, from June 2019, the Information and Communications Council started deliberating on technical requirements for using mobile phones on crewless aircraft (e.g., drones) in the sky so that 4G mobile phones can be mounted on drones or similar devices and used. MIC received a partial report on this matter from the Information and Communications Council on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
With consideration of the above, MIC drafted the ministerial ordinance and pertinent conditions for partial revisions to the Regulations for Procedures for Obtaining a Radio Station License to achieve the use of 4G mobile phones to be mounted on drones or similar applications at altitudes of less than 150 m. Accordingly, MIC made this appeal for opinions on the drafted revisions from Saturday, October 10 through Wednesday, November 11, 2020.
2. Results of appeal for opinions
The published material is in Japanese only.
3. Future plans
With consideration of the results of the appeal for opinions, MIC will promptly revise the ministerial ordinance, etc.
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International Policy Division, Global Strategy Bureau, MIC
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