Archived — Letter from Clearnet

January 6, 1999

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

Dear Mr. Helm:

This refers to your letter dated January 4, 1999 concerning Clearnet's request for temporary relief from application of the spectrum cap and requesting further information.

Quite frankly, we are concerned with this new request as we believe that the Department already has all the information necessary to make its decision on the temporary relief application and that this request for further information is unnecessary and redundant and only serves to delay the process further. Indeed, we have been previously and repeatedly assured by Department officials that we had already provided all the necessary information to the Department.

In Gazette Notice DGTP-015-98, the Department stated the following:

Our time frame for a decision on the Spectrum Cap is early spring, 1999. Should this schedule be problematic to any entity, it may submit an application requesting temporary relief for a particular geographical area, and for a certain amount of spectrum, pending the outcome of the review. Any such applications will be made available to the public on the Industry Canada Internet site referenced above for comment for a period of 30 days after which the Department will deal expeditiously with the request. (emphasis added)

We note particularly the fact that the Department noted that it intended to deal "expeditiously" with the request following the 30 day comment period, clearly in this context referring to a timeframe in terms of days, and perhaps a week at the most. Nevertheless, well over a month (currently 38 days) have now passed from the close of the comment period, and what was originally foreseen as an "expeditious" process taking just a little more than 30 days or so (including the comment period) has now been underway for considerably longer, and now is threatening to be delayed even further, particularly with this new information request. We note that early spring will soon be upon us, and the Department runs the rather perverse risk of making its "expeditious" decision after the final policy decision has been concluded!!!!

After hearing senior officials within the Department espousing the fact that "speed wins", and having high hopes and expectations for Canada's ability to move fast, it is somewhat discouraging to witness the reality of the Department's execution of "expeditious" in actual practice. While we support the Department's responsibility to listen to the concerns of all parties, the rather transparent gaming and delay tactics of certain of our competitors based on factually flawed arguments must not be allowed to unduly hinder moving forward, particularly when this is only an interim decision which will be subject to the final policy decision in any event.

In any event, the information requested is provided below, and we trust that this will allow the Department to finally proceed to make its decision on the temporary relief application without further delay or additional redundant rounds having to take place in the "expeditious" process.

As noted in our letter of October 22, 1998 Clearnet is seeking temporary relief in the Toronto / Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario and any specific information provided below is based on this area.

I am pleased to provide the following responses to your specific questions:

  1. How is Clearnet's spectrum within the spectrum cap currently deployed?

    Clearnet is licensed for 30 MHz of PCS spectrum of which only 5 MHz is currently being utilized. Clearnet also is licensed for or currently has available for licensing a total of 13.7 MHz of spectrum (274 channel pairs @ 50KHz each) in the 806-821/851-866 MHz band, of which 200 channels (10 MHz) are currently being utilized for ESMR and the remaining 74 channels (3.7 MHz) are either being utilized for analog SMR service or are awaiting deployment for ESMR pending the requested relief.

    Clearnet's massive investment in its ESMR system has made available to Canadians not only a world class new radiocommunications service which is trailblazing new and unprecedented levels of service integration, but our Mike service is, "bar none", the most spectrally efficient available service today for dispatch services in Canada. The technology employed utilizes a combination of sophisticated digital compression techniques along with a high degree of frequency re-use (we use a level of reuse similar to cellular and PCS and have and will continue make use of cell-splitting) to achieve significant efficiency gains over traditional high-site, analog dispatch technologies, such as those used for conventional and SMR service. Indeed, even though the network is utilized for both dispatch and interconnect traffic, we have clearly demonstrated to the Department previously that even if the interconnect usage of our subscribers is completely ignored that to accommodate their dispatch traffic on tradit ional dispatch systems (incidentally this calculation assumes the metrics of the largest and most efficient SMR systems ever seen by Clearnet) would require significantly more than the 200 channels currently utilized in the total ESMR system. Furthermore, we have also previously demonstrated that if the total capacity of the ESMR system was utilized solely for dispatch, the numbers of dispatch users which could be accommodated would exceed the number of dispatch users using traditional dispatch systems (again, using the same metrics as noted above), by a actor of at least 10.

    Contrary to the erroneous understanding displayed in some of the comments of our competitors, our request for relief is not a request for any additional spectrum (although any new spectrum would be gratefully accepted). Indeed, our request will simply remove a restriction which currently locks our remaining 74 channels into an inferior state of spectral efficiency and functionality by preventing them from being utilized in the most effective and spectrally efficient manner (for ESMR).

  2. How would you reconfigure your systems to operate within the spectrum cap?

    Should the Department's final spectrum cap policy decision be to maintain the cap and to maintain the size of the cap at 40 MHz, then Clearnet would have to accelerate its cell splitting plan to the degree necessary to accommodate all of its ESMR users within the 200 channel (10 MHz) limit.

  3. What is the period of time required to implement appropriate system infrastructure changes to operate within the spectrum cap?

    We assume the question is based upon a scenario where the decision is made to grant the temporary relief sought, but that the final policy decision taken is consistent with the answer to (ii) above. Clearnet would require a minimum of 24 months from the time of the final policy decision in order to implement the necessary changes. This timeframe is based on our experience of the typical time required to implement a new cell site from the time of inception, including planning, design, site acquisition, municipal consultation process, construction and implementation and site optimization. We note that the largest portion of this timeframe is typically consumed by the municipal consultation process.

  4. What is the projected minimum spectrum required, in excess of the spectrum cap, on a temporary basis, during this period of time?

    Clearnet requires as a minimum to utilize the 3.7 MHz of its 800 MHz spectrum that currently remains ineligible for ESMR use. This is the amount officially requested in our application for temporary relief as we do not have the additional spectrum available on which to base a larger request.

    That being said however, we do believe that it would be wise for the Department to consider extending this further - 5 MHz seems a very reasonable figure. We see no public policy reason why the difference between 3.7 and 5 MHz would be of much significance. We note that should additional spectrum become available to Clearnet and the relief was restricted to only the additional 3.7 MHz, another request and possibly even multiple requests for relief would be necessary in order to utilize the additional spectrum. As we are witnessing in this current process, dealing with these requests is extremely slow, cumbersome and time consuming for all involved, including the Department. We believe that an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure here, and that a little foresight now may potentially eliminate a lot of unnecessarily wasted time later on.

  5. Provide any additional information that Clearnet feels would assist Industry Canada in evaluating its request for temporary relief from the spectrum cap.

    As noted above, we believe the Department currently has all of the information required to make this decision. The information provided to the Department is by its nature confidential. Its release would provide competitors with an undue competitive advantage and thereby cause Clearnet specific direct harm. Clearnet therefore requests that the Department neither publish nor reveal the information to any other person.

We also confirm that Clearnet will abide by the Department's final policy decision.

Yours sincerely,

original signed by


R.C. Simmonds
Chairman and
Vice President Regulatory

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