SP 30-896 MHz, Part II — Spectrum Utilization Policy for the Mobile, Broadcasting and Amateur Services in the Frequency Range 30-896 MHz

April 1995

Table of Contents

  1. Intent
  2. Background
  3. Overview of the Results of Public Consultation
  4. Revisions to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations
  5. Utilization Policies
  6. Supplementary Information
  7. Implementation

1. Intent

This policy document, released with the issuance of Gazette Notice DGTP-004-95, sets forth the utilization policy for a number of bands in the mobile, broadcasting and amateur radio services in the range 30–896 MHz. In addition, some general policy principles are provided for dealing with the re-deployment of certain mobile bands, between 100–500 MHz, with more spectrum-efficient systems. The spectrum utilization policies contained herein along with those previously-iterated in spectrum utilization policy SP 30.01-896 MHz, Part I (dated May 1990 )1, SP 450 MHz (dated May 1986)2 and SP 896 MHz (dated September 1991)3 provide a complete series of spectrum policies for the 30–960 MHz range. The frequency bands which have been included in this document are detailed in Annex 1.

2. Background

The Department of Industry began a radio frequency band review of the 30-896 MHz range with the release, for public comment, of a discussion paper entitled, Utilization of the Radio Frequency Spectrum in the Range 30.01-890 MHz. The primary objective was to undertake a systematic review of the allocation and utilization of spectrum resources and the related policy directives which foster their efficient use. A secondary objective was to reassess current spectrum utilization policies to ensure the continued orderly use of the radio frequency spectrum. The first part of the review for certain bands was concluded in May of 1990 with the release of the Spectrum Allocation and Utilization Policy 30–896 MHz, Part I.

On July 17, 1993 the Department of Industry released the policy proposals paper for the remaining bands entitled Proposed Spectrum Allocations and Utilization in the Range 30–960 MHz for Part II of the review (herein referred to as the 30-960 MHz Review). The comment period for this spectrum review was completed on December 20, 1993. This policy document, highlights some of the results of public consultation (Section 3), outlines general policy guidelines to be applied to the development of a re-deployment plan for the mobile service in frequency ranges 150 MHz and 450 MHz (Section 3.2.3), makes reference to the Revisions to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (1994) (Section 4), and enunciates the utilization policy for specific bands (Section 5).

3. Overview of the Results of Public Consultation

3.1 Theme Questions

Chapter I of the 30-960 MHz Review offered conclusions on six theme questions for public consultation. The themes were Low Power Devices, Introduction of New Technologies, Personal/Business Radio Service, UHF Television Broadcasting and Land Mobile and UHF Television Spectrum Sharing, Strategy for Implementing More Spectrum-Efficient Systems and Radiocommunications Development. The information provided in response to the theme question regarding a Strategy for Implementing More Spectrum-Efficient Systems, elicited significant response which will be used in the forthcoming development of a re-deployment implementation plan for the mobile service in frequency ranges 150 MHz and 450 MHz (138-144 MHz, 148-149.9 MHz, 150.05-174 MHz, 406.1-410 MHz, 410-414 MHz, 415–419 MHz, 420–430 MHz and 450–470 MHz). The remaining theme questions also generated a number of comments. The conclusions on these policy issues can be stated as follows:

Low Power Devices

Permitting the extended deployment of licence-exempt low power devices across the band 30.01-50 MHz would more fully exploit this portion of spectrum. Extended deployment can be achieved through appropriate radio standards specifications that protect the primary and licensed use of the band for mobile service. Utilization of the band for licensed or licence-exempt low power devices will foster, to the extent practicable, a homogeneous use of frequency bands across the 30–50 MHz range.

Introduction of New Technologies

Introduction of new and advanced radio technologies and applications (e.g. digital, trunking, narrow band and cellular-like frequency re-use)will greatly improve spectrum efficiency while supporting new and innovative service offerings. Proven spectrum-efficient technologies and systems applications that cause minimal disruption to existing services should be encouraged as part of the licensing process.

Personal/Business Radio Service

Based on a continuous lack of public interest to establish a Personal/Business Radio Service and the recognition that evolving mobile radio technologies are meeting most of these needs, there is no sufficient interest for the development of a personal/business radio service in the 216–220 MHz band.

Television Broadcasting in the Digital Era4

The Department of Industry's preliminary conclusion, after reviewing the public submissions received on this issue, was that to provide for the implementation of a high quality advanced television (ATV) broadcasting system of significantly better quality than NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), it would not be prudent at this time to permit mobile services in portions of the television spectrum. However, with the advent of advanced digital broadcasting technology closely aligned to ATM digital transmission techniques, digital video compression and multi-program channels, there is an increasing interest by the broadcasting community in offerings of non-programming services5 over advanced digital broadcasting systems using spectrum which has traditionally been allocated exclusively for broadcasting services.

Although digital broadcasting technology represents a unique opportunity to have a very high quality ATV broadcasting system over a 6 MHz channel, it is also seen by some as a potential to enable two or more digital TV broadcasting channels of moderate quality, or one digital TV channel with a significant level of remainder digital transmission capacity that would enable the distribution of a range of non-programming services such as data services to the home, Internet computer files, electronic mail, magazines and newspapers, computer software, etc.

The Department of Industry has noted this mounting interest of the broadcasting industry in the potential carriage capability of the new digital broadcasting technology as a source of new revenues which could be an important part of their future business plans. The recommendations of the Advanced Broadcasting Systems of Canada Inc. (ATV Implementation Task Group) in its report of June 15, 1994, makes reference to the multi-TV channel capability and other business opportunities as an attractive option for the implementation of digital television in Canada.

In light of the above and the convergence aspects of local broadcasting and telecommunications distribution networks, a new set of spectrum related issues is emerging. The Department of Industry intends to address these spectrum issues shortly in a public consultation proceeding on broadcasting spectrum and the potential for the accommodation of the land mobile service in Television Broadcasting spectrum that would be initiated through a gazette notice. The consultation could address a range of spectrum issues related to non-programing services including access to radio station facilities and the resale of transmission capacity and their licensing.

Strategy for Implementing More Spectrum-Efficient Systems

Accelerating the use of trunking techniques alone, in large metropolitan centres, will not be sufficient to resolve mobile spectrum congestion in the long term. It will be necessary to adopt new channelling plans and system applications and implement more spectrum-efficient technologies (e.g. digital modulation techniques, narrow band, signal compression, cellular-like frequency re-use) recognizing that the usefulness of many digital applications have yet to be demonstrated.

It should be noted that many mobile users also make use of the fixed service frequencies for auxiliary communications requirements. A moratorium on fixed service utilization below 1 GHz is not viewed, at this time, as a necessary measure to increase spectrum efficiency.

Radiocommunications Development6

The Department of Industry will continue on its course of setting well-balanced spectrum utilization policies in consultation with industry, relevant for the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication in Canada. Furthermore, the efficient use of spectrum resources will provide a greater diversity of wireless radio services for all Canadians.

3.2 New Radio Technology in the Mobile Service Bands 150 MHz and 450 MHz.

3.2.1 Public Comments

In general, the public comments from the 30-960 MHz Review supported a comprehensive study of the land mobile bands 138–144 MHz, 148-149.9 MHz, 150.05-174 MHz, 406.1-410 MHz, 410–414 MHz, 415–419 MHz, 420–430 MHz and 450–470 MHz with the objective of re-deploying new technology in order to accommodate an ever-increasing demand for mobile radio services. There was agreement that planning should begin as soon as possible towards the development of a "re-deployment" plan. To this end, the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) has created a "Refarming Committee" to work with The Department of Industry on such a plan. It was stressed that this should be done in harmony with similar US initiatives.

The majority of comments indicate that there is concern about committing to the deployment of very narrow band equipment (i.e. 5 kHz, or 6.25 kHz) before such equipment has proven its capability to perform as required in congested spectrum. Commenters indicated that the VHF (150 MHz bands) and UHF (450 MHz bands) mobile service bands to be re-deployed should have a common migration path to 12.5 kHz equipment which allows the use of either analogue or digital modulation equipment.

Several comments received suggest that the transition plan should be on a channelby- channel basis which would maintain interoperability among users while allowing sufficient time to amortize existing equipment. The comments indicate that a realistic equipment amortization period could vary from a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 20 years. The redeployment plan should provide for backward compatibility to support a smooth transition to the new spectrum efficient technologies. The plan should also allow for a seamless and economical transition path to new technologies with existing systems on the same channel in the same environment. Local requirements should be taken into account in the redeployment plan, specifically to not require an early transition in locations where channel occupancy is low. As a result of this approach, licensees should be permitted to retain current frequency assignment plans in order to facilitate continued interoperability in rural areas where the transition could be delayed.

The re-deployment plan should support a channel plan which arranges contiguous channels by user group to enable the use of narrow band or wide band channels to accommodate a variety of new technologies which will offer the best combination of voice and/or data services as determined by the user. Recommended incentives that may be introduced to encourage a re-deployment plan include allowing existing users to "re-deploy" within their assigned allotments. If re-assignment becomes necessary, considerations should be given to providing for the grouping of frequencies for similar users. Trunking should be allowed and encouraged, but not mandated. Users should be allowed to determine whether trunking is the most suitable solution for their communication needs.

It was indicated by some commenters that although spectrum efficiency is a worthwhile and critical goal, its value must be weighed against the costs (financial and operational) imposed on the radiocommunications sector and that the Department of Industry should not impose actions which would reduce the flexibility of manufacturers, service providers, or users. The transition plan should allow the marketplace to choose the most effective technologies for spectrum efficiency gains. The transition to narrower bandwidth solutions should be technology neutral.

Commenters indicated that digital mobile radio technologies (e.g. 5 kHz or 6.25 kHz narrow band equipment) are in their infancy and that further experimentation is required to verify their viability. Therefore, while work may begin towards developing a re-deployment plan, it is premature to commit to a specific program until more knowledge is gained on these technologies.

1 Spectrum Allocation and Utilization in Certain Bands in the Range 30.01-896 MHz, Part I.

2 Spectrum Utilization Policy for the Frequency Bands 450–451 MHz and 455–456 MHz and also parts of the 150 MHz Band Used in Support of Broadcasting Operations and the Frequency Band 409–410 MHz and 420- 421 MHz Used by the Mobile Radio Service.

3 Spectrum Utilization Policy for the Fixed, Mobile, Radiolocation and Amateur Services in the Band 896–960 MHz.

4 This revised theme question title covers the theme questions from the review formerly entitled, " UHF Broadcasting" and "Spectrum Sharing: Land Mobile and UHF Television".

5 i.e. non-programming services that represent radiocommunication applications such as radio paging and data transmission, as opposed to programming services and broadcasting-related services such as closed captioning and broadcasting control signals.

6 This theme question represents the review theme question, formerly entitled Industry Development.

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