SP Gen — General Information Related to Spectrum Utilization and Radio Systems Policies

January 1991

Note: The definitions of certain system capacities in section 10 of this document are replaced by those found in SP 1-20 GHz.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Spectrum Policy Documents
  3. Application
  4. Future Spectrum Policy Changes
  5. Special Procedures for the Implementation of New Policies
  6. Spectrum Policies
  7. Additional Information for Fixed Radio Systems
  8. Numbering of SP Documents
  9. Definitions
  10. Definitions of System Capacities

1. Introduction

The purpose of SP-GEN is to consolidate common elements of the various Spectrum Utilization Policies (SP), and Radio Systems Policies (RP) which are published as a series of documents by the Department of Communications.

For many years, the Department has used a public consultation process to establish policies relating to the apportionment of the radio frequency spectrum between different radiocommunications services (spectrum allocation policies), the particular use to be made of an allocated frequency band (spectrum utilization policies) and what types of radio systems will be encouraged in Canada (radio systems policies). The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations, and the SP and RP series as a whole form the permanent record of these specific policies. As these policies are updated and new policies created, users are encouraged to ensure they are using the latest version of these documents. In many bands, these documents are supplemented by technical standards to ensure the efficient use of the spectrum. SP-GEN applies to those bands and services which are managed by a specific set of policies and standards, i.e. Spectrum Utilization Policies, Radio System Policies and Standard Radio System Plans (SRSP). Other bands and services may have conditions of use not covered by these documents and SP-GEN will not apply.

2. Spectrum Policy Documents

2.1 Spectrum Allocation Policies

The radio frequency spectrum is divided into bands of frequencies which are designated for use by radiocommunications services1, each of which is given a particular priority of access2 in various bands. Canadian spectrum allocations are consistent, with a few exceptions, to the International Table of Frequency Allocations3. This consistency is maintained because it forms part of Canada's international treaty obligation to prevent harmful radio interference to legitimate users of the spectrum in other countries. The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations which is updated every few years, contains the domestic allocation of the spectrum resource.

The International Table generally permits a number of different services in each frequency band. The purpose of domestic allocation policy-making is to choose the service or services which best fulfill Canadian radiocommunication needs. As international or Canadian priorities for the use of the radio spectrum change, so may the domestic spectrum allocation policies. Moreover, on occasion, it is necessary to change particular categories of services (e.g. from primary to secondary) or to remove it from a radio frequency band altogether.

The three categories of services are also defined in the Canadian Table - primary, permitted and secondary services. The Department may grant a radio licence in a frequency band to a service which has a lower category level (e.g. secondary service) than other services sharing the band. The general condition that applies between services is, that a service of a lower category is prohibited from either causing harmful interference to, or claiming protection from harmful interference from, a service with a higher category. The Department will ask that harmful interference by a service of a lower category into a service of higher category be eliminated. Accordingly the Department will normally take no action to mitigate interference from a higher to a lower category of service (see also Section 3.6).

All spectrum allocation changes of significance are subject to full public consultation. New allocation policies are often made public through the spectrum utilization policy (SP) documents. From time to time the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations is updated and includes these decisions.

2.2 Spectrum Utilization Policies

There are often several uses or applications of a radiocommunication service. Some examples are the broadcasting service (AM, FM, TV etc.), the mobile service (cellular, mobile trunked, mobile paging, etc.), the fixed service (radio-relay, multipoint communications systems). There are also sub-sets of uses of these services such as in the fixed service (radiorelay: digital: high capacity). Spectrum Utilization Policies apply to the more precise use or application of radiocommunications for services in a frequency band. These policies are based on many factors defined by the technology, service needs and the need to achieve more efficient, effective and economic use of the spectrum which enables the development of more specific radiocommunication applications. One objective is the provision of adequate spectrum to match radiocommunications demand. This is often achieved when similar uses are designated in common bands. As a fundamental principle, the Department develops spectrum utilization policies based on type of use of the spectrum rather than by type of user.

2.3 Radio System Policies

Radio system policy guidance is often required to ensure the orderly development of radiocommunications services, to effectively implement existing and emerging new technology or services and to ensure the best utilization of designated spectrum resources. The technical, economic, social, cultural, regulatory (or other) factors influencing a particular service often dictate the amount and choice of the frequency band. The set of factors which finally influence the spectrum utilization policy become an integral part of the Radio System Policy to ensure the implementation and development of a service under the defined objectives and public interest.

3. Application

3.1 Standard Systems

A radio system4 will be classified as a standard system if it conforms to the most recent issue of the Spectrum Utilization Policy (SP) or the Radio Systems Policy (RP), whichever is applicable (SP/RP), and to the corresponding Standard Radio System Plan (SRSP).

3.2 Non-Standard Systems

A radio system will be classified as a non-standard system and may be licensed accordingly if it does not conform to the most recent issue of the SP/RP or the SRSP for the frequency band in question, or if it is authorized while an SRSP is under preparation.

3.3 General Arrangements

A non-standard (or standard) system may be in the fixed service or in another radio service (e.g. mobile) depending on the uses defined by the SP/RP and SRSP for the applicable frequency band. Non-standard radio systems are subject to modification or replacement if their non-standard aspects prevent the establishment of a new system or the expansion of an existing system that is standard. In this eventuality, the parties involved will be encouraged to reach agreement on a satisfactory solution among themselves. Failing such agreement, the Department will consult with the parties involved and determine what modification or replacement of non-standard systems is warranted in the particular circumstances, taking full account of the equipment investments in place, the service requirements of the users, reasonable time frames and any other factor bearing on the matter. Alternatively, it may be necessary that a system which cannot be made standard be removed from service to permit the entry of a standard system.

It should be noted that these provisions allow the ongoing and uninterrupted operation of non-standard systems as long as they do not block the entry of a standard system. The need for modification, replacement or removal of non-standard systems will therefore be greater in areas of high radiocommunications demand than it will be in areas of low demand (e.g. some remote areas).

3.4 Five and Two Year Conformance Rule

When a system becomes non-standard as a result of a change in an SP/RP or SRSP, a minimum notification period of two years will be given by the Department for any radio system change (modification, replacement or removal) required, and normally no system change will be required in order to permit the establishment of a standard system before five years5 have elapsed from the date on which the system became non-standard. Where possible, alternative spectrum will be identified if a change in frequency is involved. For those cases where modification, replacement or removal of equipment can be done rapidly and economically, the relevant time periods may be reduced. This procedure for modification, replacement or removal is considered necessary if spectrum management is to effectively advance the use of the spectrum and avoid the constraint of obsolete radiocommunications technology.

In the event the Department is required to alleviate frequency congestion in a frequency band or range of bands in a given geographical area, the Department will not require a licence "application-in-hand" for a standard radio system in order to request the upgrade or removal of non-standard systems in the area. The Regional Executive Director in consultation with the licensee will determine an appropriate time period in which the necessary changes will be made. In cases where the five year5 protection period has expired, this could be less than two years. Factors to be taken into account in this determination are the period of time for which the system has already been non-standard, the type of use of the system, the upgrade/replacement alternatives, capital investment, service requirements, and the time frame in which the spectrum congestion problem must be alleviated.

3.5 Systems Originally Licensed on a Non-Standard Basis

When a system is originally licensed as a non-standard system, on the basis that it does not meet either the existing SP/RP or SRSP or both, modification, replacement or removal may be required at a later date in order to comply with the SRSP or SP/RP, unless otherwise specified therein. In such cases a two year notice will be given unless, in the opinion of the Regional Executive Director, circumstances warrant a shorter notification period. The five year protection and 2 year warning rule does not apply to systems originally licensed on a non-standard basis.

3.6 Systems Authorized on a Secondary Basis

When a system has been authorized in a band allocated to a service on a secondary basis and subsequently the frequency is required to support the growth of a service allocated on a primary basis in the same band, the licensee of the secondary system will be required to relinquish its assignment. The non-standard provisions and the 5 and 2 year rule provisions are not applicable. However, the licensee of the secondary system may, at the discretion of the Regional Executive Director and if local circumstances permit, receive up to 2 years notice after which the frequency will be relinquished and made available for use by the primary service.

1 Radiocommunication services are defined in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations, Article 1.

2 The radiocommunication services are prioritized by Categories of Service (primary, permitted or secondary) as defined in Article 8 of the ITU Radio Regulations.

3 ITU Radio Regulations, Article 8 contains the International Table of Frequency Allocations.

4 For the purposes of this document, the term "system" will be used in place of "apparatus" as found in the Radiocommuniation Act.

5 Unless otherwise specified in the policy for the particular band and service.


Date modified: