GCC drones market to reach $1.5bn by 2022 - report
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GCC drones market to reach $1.5bn by 2022 – report

GCC drones market to reach $1.5bn by 2022 – report

The booming drones market offers lucrative business for the region’s telecoms operators


The market for drones in the GCC is expected to reach $1.5bn by 2022, with the technology now expanding beyond the military sector, a new report has found.

The report by Strategy& – formerly Booz & Company, stated that the usage of drones in the commercial space has increased significantly in recent years.

There are several types of drone-powered solutions depending on the purpose: surveying and mapping, investment supervision, asset inventory and management, maintenance monitoring, transport of goods, surveillance, and video coverage, the report explained.

Regionally, the market for drones is being driven by the oil and gas ($633m), and utilities ($484m) industries — which are projected to constitute 43 per cent and 32 percent of the market respectively.

Other sectors that are anticipated to use drone-based technologies in the region include mining ($115m), public safety ($107m), public infrastructure ($70m), telecom ($27m), transport and logistics ($20m), agriculture ($12m), insurance ($12m), and media ($9m).

“Commercial drone usage is proliferating, mainly due to the advancements in underlying technologies (such as sensors, cameras, Global Positioning Systems [GPS], and batteries), a positive regulatory environment, and investor enthusiasm,” the report said.

The Federal Aviation Administration projects that the number of commercial drones in the US will reach almost three million by 2020, quadruple the number in 2016.

“Drones are making it possible for companies to transform their operations and perform challenging activities in a more efficient way, in terms of both cost and time. Disruption from drones is therefore not limited to their physical capabilities, but also flows from their broader applications for business,” the report added.

It also stressed that the booming drone market presented a massive opportunity for regional telecom operators.

“Telecom operators can leverage their existing capabilities and resources to offer advanced drone solutions to other sectors,” said Jad Hajj, partner with Strategy& Middle East.

“For example, with their extensive tower networks, they are able to provide constant connectivity which is crucial for data transfer. They have access to advanced cloud technologies which can be used for data storage, and are equipped with data processing systems to analyse information collected by the drones.

“As the drone industry grows, it is an obvious choice for telecom operators to seize this opportunity, given its potential,” added Hajj.

The report specified two specific areas that operators should focus on:

“First, they can offer drone-powered solutions to all other industries by building partnerships in areas related to drone procurement (providing the physical device), drone operations (piloting the drone), data processing (analysing the collected aerial data by using qualified experts) and data delivery (using extensive cloud platform capabilities to store, manage, and deliver data to clients),” it said.

Secondly, operators can establish a drone traffic control centre (DTCC) for governments. They can facilitate the technology components of the DTCC, from end to end, by supplying and managing data storage, connectivity, cybersecurity, professional services, and applications, including a drone traffic management system and real-time reporting and analytics.

“Airspace regulators are aware of the growth of drone technology, and are searching for balance between public safety and economic efficiency,” said Ramzi Khoury, principal with Strategy& Middle East.

“Progress of drone legislation and regulation in the GCC is uneven, and therefore the main purpose of the drone traffic control centre is to serve as a centralised authority to manage drone traffic and ensure regulation is followed.

“Telecom operators can cooperate with these regulators to generate revenue, reinforce their position as providers of drone solutions, or streamline approvals and licensing processes.”

This concept is already being implemented regionally, with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority working with a technology vendor to establish a drone traffic control centre as of November 2016.

The report also stressed that telecom operators should develop a tailored strategy and implementation road map for commercial drone applications.

“Drones represent a unique opportunity for telecom operators to diversify their revenue sources and spur new growth,” it added.


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