Archived — Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500 MHz Range — Policy and Licensing Procedures [including Call for Applications]

2500 MHz Multipoint Communications Systems Policy and Licensing Procedures
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Amended by:
DGTP-004-04 Revisions to Allocations in the Band 2500-2690 MHz and Consultation on Spectrum Utilization (April 2004)


June 1999
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Policy

RADIOCOMMUNICATION ACT
NOTICE NO. DGRB-006-99 — Release of Policy and Licensing Procedures [including Call for Applications]

This Notice releases the policy and call for applications for Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500-2596 MHz and related bands across Canada.

Background

Industry Canada has received, over a short period of time, a large number of radio applications for the development of MCS at 2500 MHz requesting varying numbers of channels and various sizes of service areas. In several large urban centres, these requests far exceeded the spectrum available in the band.

As a result, Industry Canada undertook public consultation on the appropriate spectrum and licensing policy measures for this band. The results of this consultation figured prominently in the development of the Department's finalized approach. The final policy and licensing measures including the call for applications are found in the document entitled Multipoint Communications Systems in the 2500 MHz Range, Policy and Licensing Procedures. Included in this document is a proposed spectrum licence fee for MCS on which public input is sought. This document is available electronically as follows:

World Wide Web (WWW)
http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum

or in hard copy, for a fee, from:

Tyrell Press Ltd.
2714 Fenton Road
Gloucester, Ontario
K1T 3T7
Canada toll-free: 1-800-267-4862
U.S. toll-free: 1-800-574-0137
Worldwide telephone: 613-822-0740
Fax number: 613-822-1089

Canada Communication Group Inc.
45 Sacré-Coeur Blvd.
Hull, Quebec
K1A 0S9
Toll-free: 1-888-562-5561
Worldwide telephone: 819-779-4335
Fax number: 819-779-2833

Instructions and dates for filing applications or comments on the proposed licence fees are included in the document.

June 4, 1999

Jan Skora
Director General
Radiocommunications and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch

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Table of Contents


"Through a national strategy designed to provide access to the information and knowledge infrastructure we can enable individuals, rural communities, aboriginal communities, small and large businesses to find new opportunities for learning, interacting, transacting and developing their economic and social potential."

The Honourable John Manley Minister of Industry September 29, 1997

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to set out the spectrum and licensing policy for the implementation of Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500-2596 MHz frequency range. Industry Canada has considered the public input received in response to the consultation document entitled Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500 MHz Range (Gazette Notice DGRB-007-97) released on December 12, 1997, (herein referred to as the Consultation Document), and initiates the comparative licensing process for awarding radio authorizations under the Radiocommunication Act.

MCS is a general term used to describe radio systems in which a main hub radio station communicates with different subscribers or response stations at many locations within a given area. Depending on equipment capability and bandwidth availability, numerous uses of MCS are possible. Many interested parties have already proposed to offer a wide variety of services, including voice, data, multimedia, and broadcasting applications directly to residential and business subscribers.

By setting out the spectrum and licensing policy and by licensing MCS systems, the Minister of Industry clearly advances his goal of making Canada the most connected country in the world. Our challenge is to facilitate the development of a high-quality, low-cost information infrastructure that will give all Canadians access to the employment, learning, training, health care, entertainment, investment and wealth-creating opportunities of the information age. Our objective is to have multiple competitive lanes serving Canadians on the Information Highway: telephone, cable, wireless, satellite, etc., and for this to be achieved, participation from all levels of government and the private sector will be crucial.

The licensing of MCS and the subsequent operation of facilities is one way to promote competition on the Information Highway and to foster innovation which in turn will lead to the development of new products and services, more consumer choice, job creation and economic growth. Since a key aim of these policy measures is to foster diversity of choice for Canadian consumers and businesses, Industry Canada plans on permitting a broad array of services in the 2500 MHz band.

An important element of the new policy measures for this band involves learning. When the Department launched the public consultation process in December 1997 to solicit input, many respondents made convincing arguments that MCS could be used efficiently to contribute to the advancement of learning for all Canadians. As learning is an essential element of the Information Highway strategy and the Connectedness agenda, the demonstration by applicants of innovative means to promote learning will be a prominent element in the comparative licensing process being used for MCS at 2500 MHz.

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2. Background

Although the frequency band 2500-2596 MHz had been available for MCS for many years, in late 1996 and early 1997, Industry Canada received a large number of radio applications for the development of MCS, many of which were mutually exclusive. In several large urban centres, these requests far exceeded the 16 channels that were available in the band. Radio frequency spectrum is normally assigned on a first-come, first-served basis except when the expressed demand for spectrum exceeds the amount of spectrum available. Hence, in accordance with stated policy, the Minister decided to use a comparative licensing process to select licensees.

On December 12, 1997, Industry Canada issued a consultation document entitled Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the 2500 MHz Range (Gazette Notice DGRB-007-97). This document outlined the general telecommunications policy objectives that might be pursued during the licensing of MCS and invited comments.

Among the matters raised for public comment were:

  • spectrum structure and use;
  • service areas;
  • licence aggregation;
  • licence fees; and
  • treatment of incumbent licensees.

In response to the Consultation Document, thirty-eight submissions were received from interested parties. Comments were received on many aspects of the consultation document, all of which are discussed in subsequent sections. However, a number of key points that emerged in the consultation process included the following:

  • the requirement for larger blocks of spectrum than initially proposed;
  • the importance for service providers to have flexibility of choice of service offerings; and
  • the extensive use of MCS by some existing licensees for learning purposes and the potential of these bands to further fulfill learning goals across Canada.

3. General Policy Objectives

The Minister, in exercising his discretionary powers under the Radiocommunication Act, may have regard to the policy objectives set out in the Telecommunications Act. The Telecommunications Act establishes several objectives of particular relevance to wireless telecommunications services that can be provided using MCS. These objectives include:

  1. to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications;
  2. to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;
  3. to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective; and
  4. to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services.

As well, the Department has been guided by the objectives of the government's Information Highway strategy and Connectedness agenda. One of those objectives, to make Canada the most connected nation by the year 2000, is a challenging goal that will best be fulfilled by having both the private and public sectors work hand in hand. The Honourable John Manley, Minister of Industry stated:

"In Canada, we have acknowledged that governments will not build the Information Highway. But governments do have an obligation to work with the private sector and consumers to establish an environment that encourages private-sector innovation and investment."1

It is clear that the telecommunications industry plays a key role in advancing the goal of making Canada the most connected country in the world. However, while connecting Canadians in itself serves many purposes, it is the opportunities that connectedness brings that are of prime importance to Canada's future. One such opportunity is the advancement of learning. Lifelong learning is a government priority, as it is believed to be a critical factor of success in the new knowledge-based economy. As such, it is recognized that "connectedness can help meet the challenge of making lifelong learning a reality for all Canadians"2. On a general note, the Department also recognizes that telecommunication carriers in Canada have always been encouraged to support high-priority public services which further public policy objectives and that many telecommunication carriers actively advance a wide range of socio-economic objectives in education, research and innovation, health care and other public imperatives.

As a result, for MCS at 2500 MHz, our objective is to license companies with strong commercially viable prospects to operate as radiocommunication carriers while also supporting local learning needs.

To this end, applicants will be required to submit Learning Plans that respond to local learning needs as part of their applications. In order to ensure that these needs are identified and met, applicants will be expected to liaise with Learning Authorities in the preparation of their Learning Plans3. Parties should note that corporate training will not be considered as part of the Learning Plans.

The Minister's authority to issue spectrum licences4 for MCS arises under the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act. Furthermore, the provision of services by licensees to the public would be within the oversight of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the Telecommunications Act, and may be subject to the provisions of the Broadcasting Act should the services carried be determined to constitute broadcasting.

It is expected that many of the telecommunications services carried on MCS may require interconnection to public telecommunications networks. The CRTC and until June 30, 2000, the relevant provincial authority in Saskatchewan, are responsible for approving the terms and conditions of interconnection for access to the public telecommunications networks. Interconnection standards may be required to facilitate the interconnection with public switched networks and the Terminal Attachment Program Advisory Committee (TAPAC) may be asked to develop any necessary standards.

Canadians have clearly expressed in a number of fora that they value their privacy. The possible use of radiocommunications (in MCS) for communications of individual consumers with the public switched telephone networks (or other networks) has obvious ramifications for the privacy concerns of users. MCS operators should consider measures to ensure that privacy concerns are addressed. Applicants should also be aware of the proposed Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Bill C-54). Details of this bill can be found on the Parliamentary Internet site at http://www.parl.gc.ca.

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