Archived—Consultation on an Application to Use Mobile Satellite Spectrum to Provide Complementary Terrestrial Mobile Service to Improve Satellite Coverage

DGTP-009-01 October 2001
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Policy

RADIOCOMMUNICATION ACT

Notice No. DGTP-009-01 — Consultation on an Application to Use Mobile Satellite Spectrum to Provide Complementary Terrestrial Mobile Service to Improve Satellite Coverage

The Department has received an application from TMI Communications and Company, Limited Parternship (TMI) for approval of a joint venture with an Motient corporation, an American corporation, to develop and operate a new generation of multi-beam mobile satellites using part of the L-band (1525-1559/1626.5-1660.5 MHz) to replace the MSAT satellite. This notice announces the release of a consultation paper inviting comments on a particular aspect of TMI's application, namely the proposal to deploy a digital terrestrial mobile service, as in-fill or complementary service, to the mobile satellite service.

The terrestrial component, which would be implemented in conjunction with the deployment of the next generation of satellites, would extend the service in urban areas where the satellite coverage may be blocked by high-rise buildings. The first of two satellites is planned to be in operation in about four years after the approvals have been granted by the Canadian and American regulators.

Invitation to Comment

The Department of Industry invites submissions, preferably in electronic format, from all interested parties on the issues raised for comments in the consultation paper. This Notice is available electronically at the following address:

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

or can be obtained in hard copy, for a fee from:

Tyrell Press Ltd.
2714 Fenton Road
Gloucester, Ontario
K1T 3T7

Email: sales1@tyrellpress.ca
Canada toll-free telephone: 1-800-267-4862
United States toll-free telephone: 1-800-574-0137
Worldwide telephone: 613-822-0740
Facsimile: 613-822-1089

and

DLS, St. Joseph Print Group
45 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard
Hull, Quebec
K1A 0S7

Canada toll-free telephone: 1-888-562-5561
Canada toll-free facsimile: 1-800-565-7757
Worldwide telephone: 819-779-4335
Worldwide facsimile: 819-779-2833

Respondents are strongly encouraged to provide their comments in electronic format (WordPerfect, microsoft Word, Adobe PDF or ASCII TXT) to facilitate posting on the Department's web site. Documents submitted should be sent with a note specifying the software, version number and operating system used. All comments should make reference to "Comments - Gazette Notice DGTP-009-01" at the following Internet address: Wireless@ic.gc.ca.

Written submissions should be addressed to the Director General, Telecommunications Policy Branch, Industry Canada, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8. All representations should cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, publication date, the title, and the Notice reference number (DGTP-009-01). To ensure there is time to consider all comments, submissions should be received no later than December 11, 2001.

Shortly after the close of the comment period, all comments received in response to this Notice will be posted on Industry Canada's Spectrum web site: (http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum).

Reply comments on these initial submissions will then be invited and should be sent to the Internet address Wireless@ic.gc.ca no later than December 28, 2001. Reply comments will also be made available to the public via Industry Canada's web site. All submissions must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, publication date, the title and the Notice reference number (DGTP-009-01). Submissions can also be submitted to the Director by mail at: 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8.

October 19, 2001

__________________________
Michael Helm
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch


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1. Intent

The Department has received an application from TMI Communications and Company, Limited Partnership (TMI) for approval of a joint venture with Motient Corporation, an American corporation, to develop and operate a new generation of multi-beam mobile satellites using part of the L-band (1525-1559/1626.5-1660.5 MHz) to replace the MSAT satellite. This consultation paper, announced in Gazette Notice, DGTP-009-01, deals with one aspect of TMI Communications and Company, Limited Partnership (TMI) application, namely the proposal to deploy a digital terrestrial mobile service, as in-fill or complementary service, to the mobile satellite service. The terrestrial component would be implemented in conjunction with the deployment of the next generation of satellites to extend the service in urban areas where the satellite coverage may be blocked by high-rise buildings. The terrestrial component is described in the attached document, (see Appendix 1), by TMI Communications and Company, Limited Partnership. The first of two satellites is planned to be in operation in about four years after the approvals have been granted by the Canadian and American regulators.

TMI's application is a request for greater flexibility in the use and optimization of the spectrum. This paper discusses the particulars of the terrestrial mobile service in the application and raises a number of questions for public comment.

2. Background

Industry Canada has been notified of a joint venture arrangement between TMI Communications and Company, Limited Partnership (TMI), operating the Canadian MSAT satellite at 106.5°W longitude, and Motient Corporation (formerly American Mobile Satellite Corporation) operating the American MSAT satellite at 101°W longitude. Each of these satellites uses portions of the L-band spectrum (1525-1559 MHz and 1626.5-1660.5 MHz) to provide mobile satellite service in the North American market. The Department has also received a two-part application from TMI for authorization under the Radiocommunication Act and Radiocommunication Regulations to transfer certain spectrum authorizations to two new companies, Mobile Satellite Ventures (Canada) Inc. (MSV Canada) and 3051361 Nova Scotia ULC.

The first part of TMI's application proposes a merging of the operation of the two MSAT satellite undertakings as a joint venture under Mobile Satellite Venture L.P. (MSV), a limited partnership incorporated in Delaware, and to integrate the satellite operation and resources in order to improve the commercial viability of these systems. The Canadian MSAT satellite would be licensed to MSV Canada and, as the Canadian satellite carrier, this carrier would continue to meet the existing conditions of licence, including Canadian ownership and control requirements. Mobile satellite service (MSS) for the North American market and beyond would be offered using the existing two MSAT satellites and these satellites would continue to use their respective assigned L-band spectrum as negotiated under the five-party operating agreement1.

In the second part of TMI's application, it is proposed that Mobile Satellite Ventures L.P. construct and operate an advanced multi-beam mobile satellite at 101°W which would include a terrestrial mobile service component. This new satellite would begin operation in about four years, after receiving regulatory approval from both Industry Canada and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)2 for both parts of the application. The application further proposes that the new multi-beam satellite would use all the L-band spectrum coordinated for TMI and Motient for their MSAT satellites for service links and the associated Ku-band spectrum for feeder links. This new multi-beam mobile satellite would be the first of two satellites replacing the two aging MSAT satellites. In the longer term, the application proposes that a second multi-beam mobile satellite will be launched using the Canadian orbital position at 106.5°W and the associated L-band MSS spectrum.

The first multi-beam geostationary mobile satellite at 101°W would use many relatively small spot beams (200 - 300 km) to cover North America. This utilization of small spot beams would provide an extensive reuse of the assigned spectrum to the two MSAT mobile satellites and would result in a significant increase of service capacity and spectrum efficiency.

The proposal in the second part of TMI's application is to use the existing assigned L-band spectrum designated for the Canadian MSAT to be authorized by Industry Canada and for the spectrum designated for Motient to be authorized by the FCC on the new U.S. mobile satellite. Under the plan in the application, the satellite would be licensed by the FCC and the United States would act as the notifying administration to the ITU.

There are number of complex issues being raised by the mobile satellite application which are being addressed by the Department using the traditional licensing process. However, the issue of developing a terrestrial mobile service complementary to the satellite offerings requires public discussion.

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3. Terrestrial Mobile Service Component

The specific aspect of this consultation relates to the unique proposal in the application to utilize part of the assigned spectrum to operate a complementary terrestrial mobile service to enhance the mobile satellite coverage as an "in-fill". The application suggests that this in-fill capability is particularly important where satellite signals are blocked in urban centres by obstructions such as high-rise buildings. The application proposes that portions of the assigned mobile satellite spectrum can be reused in each of the small beams to develop a complementary terrestrial mobile service. TMI states that with the careful management of the spectrum for each of the two services on a satellite beam-by-beam basis, the operation of both services can be achieved without limiting the amount of spectrum available for MSS3.

It is anticipated that the MSS L-band spectrum, coordinated for the existing two MSAT satellites, would provide sufficient contiguous spectrum for the new multi-beam mobile satellite to support the operation of a terrestrial mobile service. The application further proposes that the terrestrial mobile service would operate on the basis of not being protected from interference nor causing interference to the allocated primary service in the L-band4 i.e. mobile satellite service, or the allocated services in adjacent bands. The applicant expects that the new mobile satellite service together with the proposed complementary terrestrial mobile services would provide digital mobile service capability comparable to the second generation of digital personal communication services (PCS).

4. Discussion

This development of terrestrial mobile services, complementary to the mobile satellite service in the L-band spectrum, raises a number of issues. The L-band (1525-1559 MHz and 1626.5-1660.5 MHz) is allocated at the international and domestic levels to mobile satellite service on a primary basis. Also, the sub-band 1525-1535 MHz is allocated to space operation and sub-band 1660-1660.5 MHz to radio astronomy, on a primary basis. Under the ITU Radio Regulations, MSS at L-band is afforded access to the spectrum for regional and worldwide development. Furthermore, priority access is given to distress, urgency and safety communications of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the Aeronautical Mobile-Satellite (R) Service (AMS(R)S) in most of the L-band spectrum. This L-band spectrum is in significant demand to support five licensed geostationary mobile satellite systems (MSS) serving the North American market and operating with relatively large area or regional beams. It is expected that the new generation of MSS satellites will operate with a large number of small spot beams, with the promise of increasing satellite spectrum capacity by several fold and to support small hand held customer terminals. The development of terrestrial mobile services using assigned MSS spectrum as complementary to the mobile satellite service would be an efficient use of limited spectrum resources and should be considered as a matter of public policy.

As there is no international or domestic frequency allocation for terrestrial mobile service in the L-band spectrum, any prospective licensee of terrestrial mobile service in the L-band will have to operate under the strict restrictions that: (i) it cannot cause interference to any primary mobile satellite services operating in this band or any services allocated in adjacent bands; and, (ii) it cannot claim protection from mobile satellite services in this band or from any allocated services in adjacent bands. As the terrestrial mobile service would have no frequency allocation under the Canadian nor ITU Table of Frequency Allocations, use of the spectrum along the Canada-US border would be contingent upon commercial arrangements between the respective mobile satellite carriers. The terrestrial mobile service operations could be permitted (without any modification to the ITU Radio Regulations) through appropriate authorizations issued by Industry Canada and the FCC.

In order to avoid interference between the MSS service and the complementary terrestrial mobile service, there has to be common control of the assignment and use of particular spectrum on the basis of satellite beam\terrestrial area. The case could be made that the use of a portion of the assigned MSS spectrum for complementary terrestrial mobile services is only feasible if, and when, the mobile satellite operator(s) can control the frequency assignments for the complementary terrestrial mobile service in the satellite beams, in such a way as to facilitate the assignment of unused spectrum in particular beams. Furthermore, if a mobile satellite system was to cease operations, other regional mobile satellite systems could access the spectrum being released. Industry Canada could initiate a licensing process to ensure that a new MSS service is developed using this spectrum, irrespective of the permission given for terrestrial mobile service to complement MSS coverage. Hence, any associated Canadian terrestrial mobile service would likely have to cease operations should it interfere with mobile satellite service networks operating in the assigned spectrum.

Industry Canada will deal with TMI's application in two separate parts. The decision on the first part, the merger of the operation of two mobile satellite undertakings, will be considered immediately through application of existing rules and policies. Through this public consultation, the Department is proceeding with the consideration of the second part of TMI's application regarding the use of some coordinated MSS spectrum as a complementary mobile service to improve service provision in urban areas.

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5. Issues Raised for Comments

The Department is seeking comments on TMI's application, and in particular for the complementary terrestrial mobile service aspect.

  1. Is it in the public interest to encourage a greater flexibility in the use of the mobile satellite spectrum resources by permitting complementary terrestrial mobile services to improve service coverage in urban centres? Would permitting the development of a terrestrial mobile system without protection or guaranteed continued spectrum access, create an unreasonable expectation for the service operator and the consumers?
  2. Given that the availability of the spectrum for terrestrial mobile services will depend explicitly on the design of the satellite and the operation and control by the satellite carrier of the frequencies used on a beam-by-beam basis, should approval for complementary terrestrial mobile services be granted as part of the approval of an MSS application? Or should there be an opportunity to consider licensing other interested carriers who may wish to operate and offer the terrestrial mobile service as complementary to the mobile satellite service, under a set of requirements and on a no-protection, non-interference basis?
  3. What steps should be taken to address the potential for aggregate power interference of base-stations to other MSS systems (E-s service links) operating at co-frequencies and in different geographical areas (non co-coverage)?
  4. What measures should be taken to ensure that the terrestrial mobile service will not restrict or interfere with the spectrum priority access and operation of GMDSS and AMS(R)S according to ITU regulations?
  5. As the spectrum is allocated to the mobile satellite service, and any terrestrial mobile service offering cannot be protected or guaranteed continued access to spectrum, what conditions should be considered, if any, for the service offerings? Should associated subscriber terminals be limited to either single-mode (mobile satellite) service or dual-mode (mobile satellite and terrestrial mobile) service but not as single-mode terminals for terrestrial mobile service?
  6. In the event that the Department should decide to approve the terrestrial mobile service as complementary to mobile satellite service, what regulatory treatment should be provided to the licensee? For example, should a separate authorization be provided for the terrestrial component; should the use of the spectrum attract license fees similar to those for similar terrestrial mobile services; should the mobile spectrum aggregation limit, otherwise known as the spectrum cap, apply (spectrum defined in Radio System Policy RP-21 for PCS, cellular and similar high mobility radiotelephony services)?
  7. Other mobile satellite operators, of existing or future satellite networks, that may wish to seek similar spectrum flexibility to develop terrestrial mobile service to complement their mobile satellite services, are encouraged to participate in this consultation process.
  8. Are there other matters the Department should consider, relevant to the application?

6. Next Step

The public comments and other considerations will assist the Department in rendering a decision on the TMI mobile satellite application which includes proposal to use part of the L-band spectrum for terrestrial mobile service as a complementary component to the mobile satellite offerings.

Issued under the authority
of the Radiocommunication Act

__________________________
Michael Helm
Director General
Telecommunication Policy Branch

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