Policy and Call for Applications: Wireless Personal Communications Services in the 2 GHz Range — Implementing PCS in Canada

June 15, 1995

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. General Telecommunications Policy
  4. Policy Objectives for Personal Communications Services at 2 GHz
  5. Spectrum Utilization for Personal Communications Services
  6. Policy Principles for Licensed PCS
  7. Transition Policy
  8. Interconnection Between Telecommunications Networks
  9. Selection and Licensing Process
  10. Further Information

All persons electronically accessing this paper are advised that the document has been available electronically only for convenience of reference, and that in the event of a discrepancy between the electronic version and the printed paper distributed by Industry Canada, the printed and signed paper will prevail for all purposes of interpretation and application.

Amended by:

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to facilitate the timely and orderly implementation within Canada of wireless Personal Communications Services (PCS) in the 2 GHz range. A key aim of the policy measures being adopted by Industry Canada is to foster the ability of Canadians to benefit fully from the implementation of advanced wireless technologies and services, and to participate actively in their development.

This document provides the framework for PCS and initiates the selection and licensing process for 2 GHz PCS by calling for expressions of interest and detailed submissions from prospective licensees.

2. Background

On November 5, 1994, Industry Canada issued Gazette Notice DGTP-006-94 entitled Policy Discussion and Proposals Respecting the Future Provision of Personal Communications Services and Frequency Spectrum in Canada in the 2 GHz Range. This Notice sought comments and outlined the general telecommunications policy objectives that would be pursued during the implementation of PCS. Among the matters raised for public comment were:

  • general principles on frequency allocation;
  • frequency spectrum for PCS;
  • fostering of sustainable competition and innovative service; and
  • rules for the displacement of specific radio stations in order to make the necessary spectrum available for PCS.

In response to the Notice, twenty-seven submissions were received from interested parties. The public submissions were given careful consideration by Industry Canada, and were also reviewed by the Information Highway Advisory Council, which provided its recommendations on policy issues relating to PCS and the development of the Canadian Information Highway.

Regional and global radio frequency allocations are important to the successful implementation of PCS in Canada. In particular, developments relating to spectrum allocation in the United States are of interest to Canadians. In a series of decisions beginning in September 1993, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized new personal communications services from the 2 GHz "emerging technologies" band. The FCC assigned a total of 140 MHz of spectrum to PCS which will accommodate up to six PCS licences in blocks of two sizes (10 MHz and 30 MHz blocks) in any given geographical area. Twenty megahertz (of the 140 MHz) have been set aside to serve licence exempt voice and data PCS devices.

"Personal Communications Services" include a group of telecommunications services utilizing both existing and proposed technologies and network capabilities. There is general agreement that PCS will use radio terminals operating primarily in a mobile or portable mode. While particular definitions continue to be refined as the concept of PCS matures, the goal which the industry appears to share is one in which the separate fixed and mobile communications services will be accessible by means of a single personal communications portable terminal that is capable of a multiplicity of tasks. This terminal will allow its user to contact anyone, at any time, anywhere. For one person (or communicating or computing device) to be able to reach another anywhere in the world, PCS networks will have to make extensive use of personal numbers to identify people or devices within a network or several interconnected networks.

The Canadian public telecommunications networks rely on the integrated North American Numbering Plan to accommodate their numbering requirements, and the 500 and 533 Numbering Plan Area (NPA) codes have been designated for personal communications. Industry Canada is currently the Canadian Numbering Administrator (CNA), and any service provider requiring numbering resources will have to apply to the CNA, at the Telecommunications Policy Branch.

The Canadian Steering Committee on Numbering (CSCN) has been established to develop recommendations for the necessary strategies to best represent the overall interests in number planning and implementation for the Canadian telecommunications industry and users. The CSCN will liaise with the North American Numbering Fora and make recommendations to Industry Canada to ensure a consistent numbering scheme within North America.

On-going developments in PCS networks are also likely to result in the provision of a wide range of service offerings, including data/text retrieval and transfer, dispatch and group calling, paging, radiolocation, enhanced email, narrowband compressed video, image, digital audio and multimedia applications. It is toward the achievement of these broad service goals that Industry Canada has formulated the policy principles set out below.

3. General Telecommunications Policy

Wireless networks in general, and personal communications services in particular, are expected to play key roles in the development of the Canadian information highway. Accordingly, Industry Canada undertook its policy-formulation activities in this area having regard to the statutory objectives of the Radiocommunication Act and the three objectives identified in the information highway strategy: the creation of jobs through innovation and investment; the reinforcement of Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity; and the provision of universal access at reasonable cost. Five principles which are to guide the development and implementation of the information highway strategy were also considered:

  • an interconnected and interoperable network of networks;
  • collaborative private and public sector development;
  • competition in facilities, products and services;
  • privacy protection and network security; and,
  • life long learning.

The Minister, in exercising his powers under the Radiocommunication Act, may have regard to the policy principles set out in the Telecommunications Act. One of the objectives of telecommunications policy as set out in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act is to promote the ownership and control of Canadian carriers by Canadians. Canadian facilities-based telecommunications carriers must therefore satisfy specific requirements respecting Canadian ownership and control. Under these requirements, 80 per cent of the voting interest in the carrier must be owned and controlled by Canadians.

The Telecommunications Act also sets out several other objectives, including the rendering of reliable and affordable telecommunications services in all regions and the fostering of increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services. Thus, any entity which owns or operates transmission facilities used to provide telecommunications services to the public for compensation (i.e., a facilitiesbased carrier) is, pursuant to the Act, subject to tariff regulation by the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The Act, however, also grants the CRTC new powers to forbear from regulating services provided by the carriers under its jurisdiction if it deems there to be sufficient competition to protect the interests of users or if it finds that to do so would be consistent with the policy objectives of the Act (section 34). Provision is made for exempting a class of Canadian carriers from the application of the Act (section 9). In the case of resale, Canada allows resale and sharing based on the use of domestic telecommunications facilities, and resellers are not subject to CRTC regulation under the Act.

The unprecedented growth in communications and information technologies has created an increasing awareness of, and concern with, the protection of privacy. This issue is now explicitly reflected in the telecommunications policy objectives of the Act. In this regard, PCS represents both a challenge and an opportunity, in the first instance because it is a radio-based service, and in the second because considerations relating to privacy can now be given the attention they warrant from the initial phases of the design of the equipment through the formulation of standards, to the implementation of services.

4. Policy Objectives for Personal Communications Services at 2 GHz

General policy objectives, some of which were briefly discussed in the preceding section, have a specific application to the introduction of PCS. Following internal study and a review of the received public submissions, as well as receipt of the recommendations of the Information Highway Advisory Council, the following detailed objectives have been adopted for the development and deployment of PCS:

  1. the stimulation of additional choice in the provision of cellular-like mobile radiotelephone services and the support of new technologies and facilities of high security and low cost which could compete with existing local wireline services;
  2. the provision of additional and innovative personal communications services at 2 GHz, rather than only the replication by similar services of the mobile services currently operating below 1 GHz;
  3. the facilitation of national, North American and world-wide service offerings, to enable both Canadian equipment suppliers and consumers to benefit from the availability of larger markets, and to allow Canadian users the opportunity to make use of wide-scale roaming capabilities;
  4. the stimulation of competitive and comprehensive service offerings, provided through the utilization of both existing and new facilities, through, among other measures, the non-discriminatory access by third parties to networks, thereby also promoting value-added services and content;
  5. the support of the provision of services to the greatest possible number of Canadians; and
  6. the promotion of jobs and investment in Canada, through the support of research and development activities in Canada and the concomitant development of expertise for international trade and investment opportunities.

5. Spectrum Utilization for Personal Communications Services

Gazette Notice DGTP-006-94 indicated that Industry Canada intended to designate suitable frequency spectrum in the 2 GHz range for both licensed and licence exempt PCS applications, having due regard for the existing services in that range. In order to obtain the greatest flexibility in the implementation of PCS in Canada, and to increase the opportunities for coordinating around the existing fixed (microwave) systems, the entire frequency band of 140 MHz (1850–1990 MHz) is designated for PCS.1

5.1 PCS operations in the licence exempt band

Licence exempt devices are radio apparatus which are exempt under the Radiocommunication Act from the requirement to operate under a radio licence in specified radio frequency bands and which conform to appropriate Industry Canada regulations and technical standards.

Spectrum has been designated for licence exempt devices to allow for small scale personal and business applications that may fall outside the envelope of services offered by licensed PCS providers. In accordance with the above-referenced Gazette Notice, Industry Canada is confirming the designation of 20 MHz of spectrum in the band 1910–1930 MHz for PCS licence exempt device operations. This band is further subdivided between data and voice applications. The 10 MHz portion, 1910–1920 MHz, is to be used for asynchronous (data) communication devices, and the 10 MHz portion, 1920–1930 MHz, for isochronous (voice) applications.

As these licence exempt devices will operate in a common pool of spectrum, there is a need to adopt a scheme to avoid mutual interference. In that regard, Industry Canada will adopt a spectrum etiquette based on the one developed by WinForum and adopted by the FCC for use in the United States. The implementation of this band, 1910–1930 MHz, for PCS is dependent on the issue of the transition of fixed systems which is further discussed in section 7.

5.2 Licensed PCS operations

The larger portion of the PCS band is for use by licensed PCS systems - specifically, the sub-bands 1850–1910 MHz and 1930–1990 MHz.

As noted in section 2, the FCC in the United States adopted a frequency plan for licensed PCS that accommodates three 30 MHz blocks of spectrum and three 10 MHz blocks of spectrum. Each block is composed of equal size paired sub-blocks, for example, a 15+15 MHz pair or a 5+5 MHz pair. An important issue was whether to adopt the same frequency plan for PCS in Canada, or alternatively, whether to choose a different plan.

Industry Canada notes the success of cellular radio service in Canada and attributes large market penetration to the availability of a wide choice of cellular equipment developed for larger markets. In this case, reliance on the North American market has contributed to this success.

In considering the use of a frequency plan employing different block sizes than those of the United States, a number of technical and operational factors were considered. It was determined that significant differences in the frequency plan would result in a requirement for modification of equipment. Although these modifications might be relatively minor in nature, they would likely result in higher equipment costs and, perhaps more importantly, delays and limitations in the availability of equipment. As well, the use of the frequency plan employed in the United States provides both large and small blocks of spectrum facilitating a diversity of service offerings in Canada.

Based on these technical and operational considerations, and the policy objectives for PCS set out in section 4, Industry Canada is opting to use the PCS frequency plan which will permit a North American wide approach to the development and extension of services.

The frequency plan is therefore as follows:

PCS frequency plan
Block Size Frequency
Block A 30 MHz 1850–1865/1930–1945 MHz
Block B 30 MHz 1870–1885/1950–1965 MHz
Block C 30 MHz 1895–1910/1975–1990 MHz
Block D 10 MHz 1865–1870/1945–1950 MHz
Block E 10 MHz 1885–1890/1965–1970 MHz
Block F 10 MHz 1890–1895/1970–1975 MHz

It should be noted that the use of the above frequency blocks in areas near the Canada/U.S. border must be in accordance with the Interim Sharing Arrangement, dated November 14, 1994, between Industry Canada and the FCC concerning the use of the band 1850–1990 MHz.


1 It should be noted that additional mobile service spectrum has been allocated in the 2 GHz range, and that the 2110–2160 MHz band, in particular, may provide future spectrum for advanced universal personal communications.

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