Archived — Background

Wireless Broadband Communications at 24 and 38 GHz

In the Speech from the Throne on September 23, 1997, the Canadian government reiterated its determination to place Canada at the forefront of the information revolution by making Canada the most connected nation in the world by the year 2000. To further this objective, the Minister of Industry announced on June 1, 1998 that Industry Canada was launching a spectrum licensing process for the 24 and 38 GHz microwave bands. The Government is strengthening its resolve to connect Canadians by promoting the development of leading edge wireless broadband systems.

Wireless Broadband at 24 and 38 GHz

The department is licensing spectrum in the 24 and 38 GHz bands which is consistent, in terms of frequency band structure, with the United States. Access to this spectrum will allow Canadian companies a greater opportunity to offer and compete in a wide variety of communications services while accommodating the increasing demand for high-speed local access infrastructures. Furthermore, Canadian companies will benefit from a combined North American equipment market-place through greater market opportunities, greater equipment availability and minimal customization costs.

Broadband wireless systems are capable of offering diverse services such as high-speed Internet, video teleconferencing, wireless local loop, electronic commerce applications, and a range of other competitive telecommunication services.

Selection and Licensing Process

Industry Canada will be assigning spectrum licences through an auction process. This will be the first spectrum auction for Canada. It will be held via the Internet, using the latest software encryption technology to guarantee the authenticity of the bids. At the close of the auction, licences will be offered to those participants who have placed the highest bids.

Auction Process

In February 1996, Industry Canada announced its intention to introduce the use of spectrum auctions where reliance on market forces to select licensees was in the public interest. The Radiocommunication Act was amended in June 1996 to give the Minister of Industry the explicit authority to use spectrum auctions. In August 1997, Industry Canada initiated a public consultation process on auction implementation issues. The conclusions were released in the document entitled Framework for Spectrum Auctions in Canada in August 1998. The framework document outlines the approach that Industry Canada will take whenever spectrum is assigned by auction.

24 and 38 GHz Consultation Process

A public consultation paper on the licensing of the 24 and 38 GHz bands was published in August 1998. Comments and reply comments were received in December 1998 and January 1999, respectively.

After reviewing and analysing the input received, the department released a document entitled Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands on May 29, 1999. This paper defines the final policy framework for these bands and outlines the rules and procedures of the licensing process for them.

Spectrum to be Auctioned

The department has made available 400 MHz of spectrum in the 24 GHz band and 800 MHz in the 38 GHz band, for a total of 1200 MHz of broadband wireless spectrum. The spectrum at 24 GHz will be offered as a single 400 MHz licence. The 38 GHz band will be packaged as follows: one 400 MHz licence and four 100 MHz spectrum licences.

This spectrum will be offered in each of the 59 Tier 3 service areas defined in the department's document entitled Service Areas for Competitive Licensing. This document can be found on the department's Web site.

Spectrum Caps

Incumbent local exchange carriers are limited to 200 MHz of spectrum in the service areas that overlap their local exchange areas. A spectrum cap of 600 MHz applies to all other parties in any service area.

Licence Term

The department will offer licences with a ten year term, and with a high expectation of renewal at the end of the term.

Transferability, Divisibility and Flexibility in Use of Licences

Licences will be transferable and divisible in the secondary market. As well, the department will provide licensees with the maximum possible flexibility in determining the services they can offer and the technologies they can employ.

Implementation of Services

Licensees will be required to demonstrate that their spectrum is being put to use within three years of the auction's close. This is in keeping with the department's view that spectrum is a public resource and should be used in ways which serve the public interest.

Critical Deadlines

To participate in the auction, a potential bidder must submit completed application forms along with a financial deposit to the department by August 6, 1999. The auction is expected to begin in late September, 1999. Information regarding the auction schedule is available on the department's Web site.

Copies of the document entitled Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands, the associated Canada Gazette notice (DGRB-003-99/DGTP-005-99) and other reference documents are available from Spectrum Management and Telecommunication's Web site: (

For additional information please contact:

Earl Hoeg
Manager, Wireless Networks

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