SP 23/38 GHz — Spectrum Policy and Licensing Considerations, Fixed Radio Systems in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz Frequency Bands


September 1996

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Discussion
  4. Spectrum Utilization Policy for the 23 GHz Frequency Band
  5. Spectrum Utilization Policy for the 38 GHz Frequency Band
  6. Licensing Considerations
  7. Technical Considerations
  8. Implementation

Spectrum Management
Spectrum Utilization Policy

Amended by:

DGTP-005-99/DGRB-003-99 (May 1999) Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands


Department of Industry
Radiocommunication Act

Notice No. DGTP-007-96

This notice announces new microwave spectrum utilization policies for the deployment of fixed radio facilities in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz bands with the release of the policy document entitled Spectrum Policy and Licensing Considerations, Fixed Radio Systems in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz Frequency Bands. Also Industry Canada invites public comments with regard to the definition of licensing areas for frequency block assignments and the proposed licensing fees.

In early 1995, Industry Canada solicited public comments on the use of the radio spectrum in certain bands above 20 GHz (e.g. 23, 28 and 38 GHz). This consultation, initiated through Canada Gazette Notice DGTP-013-94, focussed on specific radio service applications including fixed systems for emerging local carriages.

The Department invited comments on the use of the band 21.2-21.8/22.4-23.0 GHz and the 36-40.5 GHz band for innovative fixed service applications. Fourteen of the twenty-five submissions received on DGTP-013-94 addressed the use of these bands.

The Canadian telecommunication industry has indicated their strong support for the opening of frequency bands near 23 GHz and 38 GHz to provide new fixed service applications for broadband local wireless facilities. The recent release of the PCS policy and subsequent awarding of licences has generated some urgency to identify suitable spectrum above 20 GHz for PCS (and cellular) cell site network support and possibly other PCS network components including backbone/backhaul facilities. In addition, since the release of the consultation document DGTP-013-94, it has become apparent that there is interest by existing and new service providers in developing wireless access facilities using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint systems in these frequency ranges.

The new 23 GHz and 38 GHz spectrum policies will be consolidated in the package of microwave utilization policies, released in January 1995, entitled Revisions to the Microwave Spectrum Utilization Policies in the Range of 1–20 GHz, (SP 1–20 GHz).

This document entitled Spectrum Policy and Licensing Considerations, Fixed Radio Systems in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz Frequency Bands is available electronically via the Internet at the following addresses:

World Wide Web (WWW)
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications

Submissions in response to Section 6.0 of the policy document should be addressed to the Director General - DGRB, Industry Canada, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8 and must be received on or before October 22, 1996 to receive full consideration. All representations should cite the Canada Gazette Part 1 Notice publication date, title, and the Notice reference number.

Written comments received in response to this Notice will be made available for viewing by the public two weeks after the closing date of this Notice, during normal business hours, at the Industry Canada Library, 365 Laurier Ave. West, Ottawa, and at the offices of Industry Canada at Moncton, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, for a period of one year from the close of the comment period.

Copies of the subject document are also available from the Communications Branch, Industry Canada, 235 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5, 613-947-7466, and from the offices of Industry Canada at Moncton, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Dated at Ottawa this 28th day of August, 1996.

Larry Shaw
Acting Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch


1. Introduction

The purpose of this policy statement is to make spectrum available for the deployment of fixed microwave radio facilities in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz frequency bands.

2. Background

In early 1995, Industry Canada solicited public comments on the use of the radio spectrum in certain bands above 20 GHz (e.g. 23, 28 and 38 GHz). This consultation, initiated through Canada Gazette Notice DGTP-013-94, focussed on specific radio service applications including the following:

  • Local multipoint communication systems (LMCS), for the distribution of a wide variety of services, such as interactive video, broadcasting, multimedia, voice, narrowband and broadband data services to Canadian households and businesses;
  • Fixed point-to-point radio systems for emerging local carriages including backbone/backhaul facilities for the Personal Communications Service (PCS).

The policy consultation was to take into account the spectrum needs for feeder links for nongeostationary mobile satellite networks, and future advanced communication satellites in the 28 GHz range.

On February 29, 1996, Industry Canada released a new policy and call for applications for the implementation of Local Multipoint Communication Systems (LMCS) in the frequency range 25.35-28.35 GHz, noting that initial implementation will be in the band 27.35–28.35 GHz. These systems, typically requiring 500–1000 MHz of spectrum, will operate as local common carrier facilities and will accommodate a wide range of basic and advanced telecommunications, multimedia and broadcasting services.

The Department has responded to the need for mobile satellite feeder links and advanced satellite communications through separate actions, including the preparations for the 1995 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-95). Canada was successful at WRC -95 in having the ITU designate sufficient spectrum for feeder links in the C and Ka bands while ensuring the availability of spectrum for advanced satellite applications. In the near future the Department will issue proposals for consequential amendments to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations.

The remaining item from the consultation process, fixed radio facilities, is the subject of this policy document. The Department invited comments on the use of the band 21.2-21.8/ 22.4-23.0 GHz and the 36-40.5 GHz band for innovative fixed service applications. Fourteen of the twenty-five submissions received on DGTP-013-94 addressed the use of these bands.

The Canadian telecommunication industry has indicated their strong support for the opening of frequency bands near 23 GHz and 38 GHz to provide new fixed service applications. The recent release of the PCS policy and subsequent awarding of licences has generated some urgency to identify suitable spectrum above 20 GHz for PCS (and cellular) cell site network support and possibly other PCS network components including backbone/backhaul facilities. In addition, since the release of the consultation document DGTP-013-94, it has become apparent that there is interest by existing and new service providers in developing wireless access facilities using point-to-point and point-to-multipoint systems in these frequency ranges.

3. Discussion

The nature of microwave point-to-point systems has evolved considerably over the past 10 years. Existing medium and long haul transmission systems have in many cases moved from radio based technologies to optical cable technology, in order to meet burgeoning capacity requirements. On the other hand, the new competitive telecommunication environment has provided many opportunities for new service providers. In many cases the new entrants have elected to develop microwave point-to-point systems for economic and deployment timing reasons.

Since the introduction of cellular radio systems in the mid 80's, there has been a continued growth in microwave communication systems as a key component of the cellular backbone network. The cellular deployment of new point-to-point microwave facilities has outpaced all other uses of microwave facilities in the last 10 years and as cellular systems expand, so does their use of higher microwave frequency bands which has traditionally been in bands below 20 GHz.

With the introduction of broadband PCS in the 2 GHz band there is now a further need to find radio spectrum to support interconnection of cells within urban areas. In the case of PCS, the cells vary in size; some small enough to be contained within the floor of a building or at a street intersection; some considerably larger, comparable to cellular. Equipment manufacturers have developed new lines of short range, rapid deployment, microwave equipment in frequency bands above 20 GHz which meet the backbone/backhaul requirements of PCS and cellular systems and emerging high speed digital access requirements for business.

Industry Canada recognizes the need to provide radio spectrum above 20 GHz to support emerging applications such as fixed wireless access and private data networks. Given the phenomena of the expanding use of the Internet and other computer networks, service providers are racing to provide high speed digital communications to business and residential subscribers. Industry experts have indicated that the data transmission speeds will have to increase to support continued growth of computer networks.

Telecommunication service providers have more recently expressed interest in multipoint communications system (MCS) technology to provide wide access to clients for delivery of a full range of voice and data services. MCS equipment can take advantage of the propagation characteristics and available bandwidth found in spectrum above 20 GHz to support wireless access applications to a large number of users.

In the consultation process respondents suggested that there is need to move away from the conventional fixed service frequency assignment methods and technical requirements. The general direction that was supported by the respondents is as follows:

  1. Spectrum blocks should be made available to users, on a self-managed basis, to permit the rapid deployment of communication facilities.
  2. The technical and operational constraints on the use of spectrum blocks should be minimal, allowing flexibility to the licensee to meet particular service demands in the most efficient and economic manner.
  3. Assignment of the blocks of spectrum should be over a given service area(s) and not subject to site-by-site authorization.

Given the variety of applications that could emerge employing both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint technologies, Industry Canada will provide sufficient spectrum in the 23 GHz and 38 GHz frequency bands to accommodate that diversity. In addition, the Department recognizes the need to update existing policies and standards for the current fixed service band in the 23 GHz range to ensure the spectrum is used in the most efficient manner.

4. Spectrum Utilization Policy for the 23 GHz Frequency Band

Currently, the paired frequency bands 21.8-22.4 GHz and 23-23.6 GHz are available for use by point-to-point fixed systems under the provisions established in the spectrum utilization policy SP 1–20 GHz and the standard radio systems plan SRSP 321.8. The policy and technical standards for the use of this spectrum permit a wide variety of applications operating under minimal technical restrictions. It has been recognized by microwave manufacturers and service providers that a review of SRSP 321.8 is necessary in order to facilitate new product lines and to ensure that the spectrum is used in the most efficient manner.

Industry Canada concurs with the proposal to review and revise SRSP 321.8. The Department assessed the current usage of the bands 21.8-22.4 GHz and 23-23.6 GHz and has concluded that nearly all channels are lightly used in metropolitan areas. Consequently the planned updating of the technical standards for the existing bands should provide sufficient opportunity for deployment of point-to-point systems in this frequency range for the foreseeable future.

Emerging technology trends in the frequency bands above 20 GHz suggest that some spectrum should be available to service providers to develop a variety of business opportunities and implement new technology within exclusively licensed spectrum blocks. Industry Canada recognizes that competition in the telecommunication industry will continue to unfold creating new wireless service opportunities for Canadian companies. In support of this new environment, new radio spectrum is being made available in the bands 21.2-21.6 GHz and 22.4-22.8 GHz, for a wide variety of fixed service applications employing multipoint communication systems (MCS).

The spectrum in the bands 21.2-21.6 GHz and 22.4-22.8 GHz will be divided into 50 MHz paired blocks and each paired block will be assigned on an exclusive basis over an area. Increased flexibility is provided through a block assignment structure, where operators will have considerable freedom to use the spectrum within their licensed blocks to suit their particular business needs. There will be a limit on the maximum number of paired blocks assigned to each licensee in any area, in order to provide equitable access to the available spectrum,

The Department is of the view that the remaining spectrum in the bands 21.6-21.8 GHz and 22.8-23 GHz should not be designated for use at this time. Therefore, this spectrum is held in reserve. These bands could be available for point-to-point and/or multipoint systems at a later date, depending on the emerging demands and the rate at which spectrum is depleted in the adjacent bands.

The specific spectrum utilization policy provisions are as follows:

4.1 A full description of the relationship between frequency bands and services, as contained in related international and domestic footnotes, can be found in the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations.

4.2 The use of the existing bands 21.8-22.4 GHz and 23.0-23.6 GHz by the fixed service:

4.2.1 These paired bands are designated for point-to-point microwave systems.

4.2.2 The permitted transmission capacity, as defined in SP 1–20 GHz, is low, medium and high capacity. (See Annex A)

4.2.3 The technical standards within the Standard Radio System Plan (SRSP 321.8) should be revised to improve the efficient use of this band. Until a new SRSP is adopted, all licensing of new microwave systems in these bands will be on non-standard basis.