Archived — Notice DGTP-009-97

Industry Canada

Radiocommunication Act

Notice No. DGTP-009-97 – Proposals to Improve the Radios Licensing Process for Dealing with Applications on a "First Come-First Served" Basis

The purpose of this Notice is to invite public comment on proposals to improve Industry Canada's use of the first-come, first-served licensing process and to take into account situations where there is, or is likely to be, more spectrum demand than spectrum resource available. The subject document is available for public comment. These comments will assist the Department in making appropriate modifications to its radio licensing process.

The Department's traditional procedure is to deal with most applications for licensing of radio facilities and for assignment of frequencies on a first-come, first-served basis. This approach works well for the vast majority of the several thousand applications processed each year. However, the growth of radiocommunication and the competition in telecommunications and broadcasting service distribution has led to an increased incidence of expressed demand exceeding supply. As a result of this consultation, the Department proposes to modify the licensing process to clearly identify situations where competitive licensing would be considered, e.g. radio applications in certain frequency bands and satellite orbital resources. Also, it is proposed to incorporate criteria in the first-come, first-served licensing process to identify when there is a need to utilize a competitive licensing process instead of the first-come, first-served process.

As outlined in existing licensing policies, the Department may choose to initiate a competitive licensing process in situations where there is more demand than available spectrum or where there is a need to pursue certain telecommunications policy objectives. Industry Canada, herewith, wishes to reaffirm the policy principle that the first-come, first-served licensing process is not automatic.

Invitation to Comment

Industry Canada invites interested and affected parties to provide their views and comments on the above-referenced document.

This document is available electronically as follows: 

World Wide Web (WWW)
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications

Submissions should be addressed to the:

Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch
Industry Canada
300 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C8

and must be received on or before February 16, 1998 to receive full consideration. All representations should cite the Canada Gazette Part I 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, 235 Queen Street, Ottawa, and at the offices of Industry Canada in Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, for a period of one year from the close of the comment period.

December 12, 1997

Michael Helm

Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch


Proposals to Improve the Radios Licensing Process for Dealing with Applications on a "First Come-First Served" Basis

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this document is to set out a series of proposals for public comment to improve the existing first-come, first-served (FCFS) licensing process and to deal with situations where there may be a need to initiate a competitive process. For example, incidences have recently occurred where the spectrum demand has exceeded the spectrum available in certain frequency bands for microwave radio and mobile radio systems and certain satellite orbital resources.

As outlined in existing policies, the Department may choose to initiate a competitive licensing process in situations where there is, or is likely to be, more demand for radio frequency spectrum than the supply of spectrum available for use in a given frequency band or where there is a need to pursue certain telecommunications policy objectives. For such situations, Industry Canada herewith reaffirms that the first-come, first-served licensing process is not automatic and a competitive process may be initiated.

The comments received will assist the Department in making modifications to its radio licensing process.

2.0 Discussion

The traditional licensing approach used by Industry Canada has been to process most applications for radio facilities and assign frequencies on a FCFS basis. This process is accomplished using an integrated spectrum management system according to existing spectrum allocation and utilization policies, licensing policies, radiocommunication regulations and technical and radio system standards. Spectrum users are required to coordinate their systems and frequency assignments in order to accommodate a large number of users and to make efficient use of limited spectrum. The FCFS approach is used in instances where there is sufficient spectrum to meet the demand in a given frequency band, or in instances where no additional measures are required to achieve specific telecommunications objectives. Industry Canada deals expeditiously with several thousand radio applications each year. It is noted that most industrialized countries also use the FCFS process for licensing the majority of their radiocommunications and rely on some form of competitive licensing process for other approvals.

Since the mid-eighties, starting with the licensing of cellular radio, competitive licensing has been used in a limited number of cases. However, the Department has recently experienced a greater number of cases where spectrum demand has exceeded supply. Factors contributing to this include new entrants wanting to provide local services, the increased desire to establish national systems, and some parties wishing to "stake a claim" for spectrum. As examples, the opening of local competition in telecommunications and broadcasting distribution, and the availability of new spectrum and improved technology, have created significant interest in the deployment of local radio facilities. This situation exists in the band 2.5 GHz where there has recently been a large number of applications to develop multipoint communications systems (MCS), although the spectrum had been available since 1988. Similar interest has developed with the recent opening of new spectrum for MCS at 23 GHz and point-to-point microwave at 38 GHz. That same interest was experienced during the licensing process of Canada's first direct broadcast satellite (DBS) in orbital position 91° West Longitude.

In some situations, the Department has identified the need to initiate a competitive licensing process to advance certain telecommunications objectives contained in the Telecommunication Act or to award licences where there is more demand by potential applicants than available spectrum. The Department has experienced situations where it was necessary to stop the FCFS process in mid-stream and initiate competitive licensing.

3.0 Proposals to Improve the FCFS Licensing Process

In order to improve the FCFS licensing process, Industry Canada proposes certain measures for public comments.

The proposals are as follows:

  1. Specific Cases for Considering a Competitive Licensing Process (Comparative or Auctions)

    Industry Canada will pre-determine, to the extent possible, the frequency bands or situations where there is, or could be, excess spectrum demand relative to supply. In these cases, a competitive licensing process will be initiated according to the situation. In some cases, it could be determined during the "expression of interest" phase of a competitive process that sufficient spectrum is available to reasonably meet the needs of all applicants and the licensing can proceed on a FCFS basis.

    The Department is considering using a competitive licensing process for most of the MCS frequency bands from 1-38 GHz in urban areas (refer to Annex 1); the reserved spectrum – two PCS blocks at 2 GHz and four LMCS blocks at 26 GHz; some satellite orbital positions; and other cases.

  2. Majority of Cases for Continuing with the FCFS Licensing Process

    The use of the FCFS licensing process will continue where Industry Canada believes that spectrum supply is adequate to meet demand or where a reasonable accommodation of all applications can be managed. This will apply to most point-to-point microwave systems and conventional land mobile systems; individual frequency assignments for microwave radio and land mobile services; generally for applications outside urban areas; and all satellite earth stations (refer to Annex 2).

  3. Other Cases

    Some practical rules are required to deal with situations where Industry Canada is unable to estimate whether there is sufficient spectrum available to meet the demand. Accordingly, where FCFS applies, Industry Canada will monitor the licensing process to determine where licensing activities could trigger excess demand. In such cases, the Department will notify industry that FCFS no longer applies. Certain criteria that could trigger terminating the FCFS process and initiating the use of a competitive process could include the following:

    1. where a band is nearing exhaustion, say at a level of 75% utilization, or the spectrum consumption rate indicates the available frequencies will be exhausted in the near term, and there is no comparable spectrum alternative;
    2. where new technology could potentially alter the usage of an existing band; and,
    3. where an applicant requests significant spectrum, say more than 25% of the remaining available spectrum in a band.

The FCFS licensing process, while taking into account the expressed needs of all applicants, has been used effectively to deal with certain cases of high demand for frequencies in spectrum congested areas, such as, for land mobile service in the 150 MHz, 450 MHz and 800/900 MHz frequency ranges in urban areas. The Department has actively managed assignments in these, and other bands, in order to accommodate as many users as possible. The licensing process must continue to provide a means to re-assign underutilised spectrum for immediate use and the Department intends to be more active in reclaiming this spectrum. In addition, it may be in the public interest to limit the number of frequency assignments for each licensee in a given band and area in order to accommodate a greater diversity of users, and in certain situations where it is justified, to reserve a number of frequencies for the orderly growth of radio systems.

The Department invites interested and affected parties to comment on the above proposals and to propose any modification to the proposals, or to advance other provisions.

4.0 Conclusion

Based on the results of the public consultation initiated in this document and further internal evaluation of the FCFS process, Industry Canada will enunciate provisions to improve the traditional FCFS licensing process.


Annex 1 – List of Potential MCS Bands to Consider for Competitive Licensing Process

Demand demonstrated to exceed supply in urban areas
* Refer to consultation paper DGRB-007-97, Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500 MHz Range: Spectrum and Licensing Policy Discussion Document, dealing with 2.5 GHz MCS as to the future status of the band 2500-2596 MHz.
- 2.5 GHz MCS (2500-2596 MHz)*
- 23 GHz MCS (21.2-21.6\22.4-22.8 GHz)
Demand could exceed supply in urban areas
- 10.5 GHz MCS (10.5-10.68 GHz)
- 12.7 GHz VHCM (12.7-13.25 GHz)
- 18 GHz MCS (18.14-18.58 GHz and 18.58-19.26 GHz)
- 38 GHz MCS (38.4-38.6 GHz)

Annex 2 – Proposed List of Frequency Bands and Radio Applications to Continue Use of the FCFS Licensing Process (unless determined otherwise)

1. All Point-to-point microwave bands

  • 900 MHz(932.5-935\941.5-944 MHz)
  • Lower 2 GHz(1700-1850 MHz)
  • Upper 2 GHz(2025-2105\2200-2280 MHz)*
  • Super 2 GHz(2290-2360\2520-2590 MHz)**
  • 4 GHz(3500-4200 and 4545-4705\4735-4895 MHz)
  • Lower 6 GHz(5850-6425 MHz)
  • Upper 6 GHz(6425-6930\6930-7125 MHz)
  • 7 GHz(7125-7725 MHz)
  • Upper 7 GHz(7725-8275 MHz)
  • 8 GHz(8275-8500 MHz)
  • 10 GHz(10.5-10.68 GHz)
  • 11 GHz(10.7-11.7 GHz)
  • 14 GHz(14.5-15.35 GHz)
  • 18 GHz(17.7-18.14\18.58-19.26\19.26-19.7 GHz)
  • 21 GHz(21.8-22.4\23-23.6 GHz)
  • 38 GHz(38.4-38.6\38.6-40.0 GHz)

2. Certain MCS bands in rural areas

  • 1.4 GHz (SRS) – (1427-1452\1492-1527 MHz)
  • 2.3\2.5 GHz (SRS) – (2300-2360\2520-2590 MHz)**
  • 10.5 GHz (MCS) – (10.5-10.68 GHz)

3. Conventional land mobile bands

  • 150 MHz range
  • 450 MHz range
  • 800\900 MHz range

4. National/regional frequencies unlikely to exceed supply in near future

  • Narrowband PCS at 900 MHz
  • Paging frequencies at 900 MHz

5. All Earth stations licensed in satellite bands (Mobile and Fixed Satellites)

* Band edges under review.

** Refer to consultation paper DGRB-007-97, Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500 MHz Range: Spectrum and Licensing Policy Discussion Document, dealing with 2.5 GHz MCS as to the future status of the band 2500-2596 MHz.

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