Consultation on a Renewed Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada and Continued Advancements in Spectrum Management

May 2005

Table of Contents

1. Intent

The intent of this document is to consult with the public on a proposal to modify the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (Framework) so that it will continue to provide a sound basis for the ongoing modernization of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program ("Program"). This action responds to the Minister of Industry's initiative to modernize Canada's telecommunication and radiocommunication policy and regulatory regimes.


2. Executive Summary

The Framework is based on the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act, and provides the fundamental policy basis for the management of the radiofrequency spectrum by Industry Canada. The Framework was revised in 2002 to reflect the evolution of government and departmental policy as well as the changing use of the radiofrequency spectrum over that period of time.

In the April 2004 departmental document Strategic Directions – Spectrum/Telecom Program ("Strategic Directions"), Industry Canada identified a number of external drivers that would impact on the Program, including new and rapidly changing technology and market demand, globalization, and heightened concerns surrounding security issues. These external drivers have led to the decision to enter into a phase of public consultation to make further changes to the 2002 Framework.

In its Strategic Directions, the Department also defined a set of intended outcomes ("Outcomes") for its role in the Canadian Spectrum/Telecom Program. These intended outcomes are that:

  • Canada has sufficient and timely access to the essential spectrum needed to satisfy its socio-cultural and economic interests;
  • Canadian citizens enjoy world-class information and telecommunications networks and services;
  • a competitive communications marketplace is promoted and maintained;
  • Canada's telecommunications infrastructure is secure from cyber attacks and in conformity to international standards and practices; and
  • opportunities are created to enable Canadian companies to excel in researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing telecommunications equipment and services both in Canada and abroad.

The policy basis for the management of the radiofrequency spectrum is contained in the core objectives and policy guidelines sections within the Framework. The intended Outcomes given above, as they apply to the management of the radiofrequency spectrum, are the guiding principles behind this revision of the Framework. Proposals for the revision of the core objectives and policy guidelines are found in Part A of this document.

The proposed revision to the core objectives consists of a set of simplified, concise statements giving the basic elements of spectrum management policy. These simplified objectives relate to the Department's basic goals for the development, allocation, planning, utilization and management of the spectrum. These objectives provide the foundation for (but should not overlap with) the development and application of the Framework's policy guidelines.

Four broad themes have been identified to focus the development of the proposal for the policy guidelines, namely:

  • facilitating access to spectrum;
  • making spectrum available to meet priority requirements and societal needs;
  • improving the utilization of the spectrum resource; and
  • delivery of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program.

The proposed revisions to the policy guidelines include the Department's intent to: facilitate access to spectrum for both licensed as well as licence-exempt applications; assure priority access to spectrum for public safety and national security; harmonize domestic frequency allocations with those of other countries; and enable more flexibility in the application of frequency allocations.

Where feasible, the Department will seek to maximize reliance on market forces and economic incentives to determine who uses spectrum and how much they use. However, the Department will continue to facilitate access to spectrum for certain societal needs which would not be achieved by economic factors alone. It is proposed to retain most of the policy guidelines of the 2002 Framework for traditional spectrum management tools, but generally in a modified form.

In order to facilitate the discussion on further potential enhancements to the Program, Part B of this document raises a range of issues for consideration. Associated proposals and questions for public comment are included. The Department may issue separate consultations for further discussion on specific issues discussed in Part B. The public comments submitted in this proceeding will be taken into account in these further separate consultations.

The topics raised include measures for augmenting harmonization and flexibility of use of frequency allocations. The enhancement of a licensee's spectrum privileges, such as secondary trading, is discussed along with the matter of further improvements in the First-Come, First-Served (FCFS) licensing process.

The impact on spectrum use from the perspective of the implementation of new communication technologies, as well as the adoption of new spectrum management technical methodologies, is discussed. Facilitating communications in rural areas is addressed as well as access to spectrum for public safety and national security services.

Comments and responses are invited on the proposals and questions posed in the document through the process outlined in Gazette Notice DGTP-001-05.


3. General

The existing Framework contains a set of core objectives and policy guidelines that provides the fundamental policy basis for the Program. Originally released in 1992, its stated intent was to provide a foundation for approaches that would ensure the judicious planning and management of the radiofrequency spectrum. The Framework was revised in 2002 to reflect the evolution of government and departmental policy as well as the changing use of the radiofrequency spectrum over that period of time.

Following the release of the updated 2002 Framework, the Department announced its intent to develop a renewed Framework and posed a number of broad questions in a further public consultation. Seven public comments were submitted to the Department in response to Gazette Notice DGTP-004-02 in June 2002. These comments, found on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Web site, are taken into account in the development of this renewed Framework.

Further change to the Framework is required so that it will continue to provide an effective policy basis for the Program and accommodate substantive changes in the delivery of telecommunications, broadcasting and new media. This document discusses and presents modifications to the Framework for public consultation.

In order to provide further context to the proposal for the revision to the Framework, Part B of this document describes how the Department intends to advance the Program by addressing a number of related issues over the next five to seven years. Public comment is invited on the Department's planned treatment of these spectrum management issues, as discussed in Part B.

The results of these consultations will be used by the Department in the development of a renewed Framework as well as for guidance in the treatment of the issues discussed in Part B. During this period of time, consultation on other specific spectrum management issues will be undertaken, as appropriate, following normal practice.

All documents referred in this consultation are listed in Section 12, Reference Documents, and can be found on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Web site.


Part A — Revision to the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada

4. Context for the Revision of the Framework

In its April 2004 Strategic DirectionsFootnote 1, the Department identified a number of external drivers that will impact on the Program including new and rapidly changing technology and market demand, globalization and heightened concerns surrounding security issues.

The Department recognizes that new and rapidly changing technology and attendant market demand is expected to have a dramatic impact on its ability to anticipate and respond, from a regulatory perspective, to business and consumer expectations in a timely manner. The Department must anticipate and address socio-economic issues (e.g. digital divide, urban/rural access) related to convergence and the accelerating expansion of Internet-based applications and services. As well, the Department must anticipate and develop strategies to combat risks such as cyber attacks and mitigate their impacts on telecommunications infrastructure.

Globalization elevates the need to ensure that the spectrum/telecommunications management regime provides a regulatory environment conducive to the efficient assignment of spectrum among competing uses. The Department must study spectrum management reform underway in other countries to benefit from their experiences as we move forward with our own. This includes a continued review and adaptation to minimize regulatory burden in concert with risk mitigation strategies. Furthermore, the Department must continue to engage in international initiatives in telecommunications standards and regulatory harmonization where appropriate.

The increased focus on public safety and security is reflected in an emerging array of issues including the protection of critical communications infrastructure, trans-border security, interoperability, lawful access and Internet reliability. This aspect is further amplified as wireless communications plays an increasingly significant role in the provision of public safety and national security services for Canadians.

Also, in continuing the government's practice of "smart regulation", the Department is following the practice of regulating only where necessary. The Department will strive to give the greatest degree of certainty and transparency to the user in the application of these regulations.

5. The Present Review of the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada

The radiofrequency spectrum is a public resource, administered by Industry Canada. The Framework establishes the foundation for the Program, pursuant to the obligations set out in the Radiocommunication Act and Telecommunications Act.

Among other principles included in the Framework, radiofrequency spectrum is allocated to a large number of radio services that are adapted, within international constraints, to meet changing Canadian requirements. Radiofrequency spectrum is to be made available to support priority services such as national security, national defence, and public safety. The efficient use of the radiofrequency spectrum is to be promoted to accommodate a wide range of radiocommunication services throughout Canada. Most importantly, the Department will facilitate access to spectrum based on sound economic and technical principles.

The current Framework consists of a set of core objectives and policy guidelines that define the basic tenets of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program. The Framework was updated in 2002 and incorporates a number of current principles and concepts of spectrum management. Examples of such concepts include providing more flexibility in the use of radiofrequency spectrum and placing a greater reliance on market-based tools.

However, as discussed briefly in Section 4, the context of the provision and regulation of communications is changing in Canada and globally. Hence a thorough rethinking of the existing Framework is warranted. To this end, proposed revisions to the Framework are presented in Section 6 for review and comment by the public.

In the departmental document, Strategic Directions, Industry Canada has defined a set of intended Outcomes for its role in the Canadian Spectrum/Telecomunications Program. These intended outcomes are that:

  • Canada has sufficient and timely access to the essential spectrum needed to satisfy its socio-cultural and economic interests
  • Canadian citizens enjoy world-class information and telecommunications networks and services;
  • a competitive communications marketplace is promoted and maintained;
  • Canada's telecommunications infrastructure is secure from cyber attacks and in conformity to international standards and practices; and
  • opportunities are created to enable Canadian companies to excel in researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing telecommunications equipment and services both in Canada and abroad.

The policy basis for the management of the radiofrequency spectrum is contained in the core objectives and policy guidelines sections within the Framework. The intended Outcomes given above, as they apply to the management of the radiofrequency spectrum, are the guiding principles behind this revision of the Framework. Proposals for the revision of the core objectives and policy guidelines are found in Part A of this document.

A goal in this review and the subsequent revision of the Framework is to create a policy framework that will have the greatest likelihood of accommodating future requirements. Obviously it is impossible to develop a policy framework that can be expected to meet all unforeseen situations. However, if this new policy framework is crafted with broad objectives and guidelines, avoiding prescriptive direction, it will have a good prospect of meeting this goal for an extended period of time.

A proposal for modification to the Framework follows.

6. Proposed Changes to the Framework

6.1 Core Objectives

6.1.1 Discussion

The Framework contains a set of core objectives and policy guidelines that provides the fundamental policy basis for the Program. In developing a proposal for revised core objectives, the intent has been to create a set of brief and concise statements giving the basic elements of Canadian spectrum management policy. In this proposal, the current core objectives have been rewritten in a more abbreviated form and some of their content transferred to the proposed new policy guidelines. This will serve to avoid overlap with the more detailed policy statements contained in the proposed policy guidelines.

The drafting and use of the core objectives must give regard to the objectives of the Radiocommunication Act (the Act). Subsection 5(1.1) of the Act states that in exercising the Minister's powers in subsection 5(1) of the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister may have regard to the objectives of the Canadian telecommunications policy set out in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act.

It is proposed that the Department's obligations under the Radiocommunication Act and Telecommunications Act be reflected in a preamble to the Framework as follows:

In managing the radiofrequency spectrum by the powers conferred by the Radiocommunication Act, with regard to the objectives of the Telecommunications Act and related legislation, the Department will adhere to the following core objectives and policy guidelines in establishing policies, procedures, regulations and technical standards.

6.1.2 Proposed Changes to the Core Objectives
Proposed Core Objectives
  1. To promote and support the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication systems and services to provide economic, social and cultural benefits for Canadians;
  2. To promote economically efficient resource allocation and reliance on market forces and economic incentives to assign the spectrum;
  3. To ensure that radiofrequency spectrum is available to support Canadian sovereignty, security and public safety needs;
  4. To regulate wisely and only when required;
  5. To facilitate the implementation of advanced communications technologies and services to benefit all Canadians;
  6. To facilitate the use of spectrum in rural and remote communities and regions;
  7. To advance Canadian spectrum interests internationally; and
  8. To consult widely and on a regular basis on matters affecting the Program.

For the purpose of comparison, the existing core objectives are found in Appendix A. This proposal will be further revised and adopted following public consultation and consideration of the comments. In the meantime the current core objectives of the 2002 Framework will continue to apply.

6.2 Policy Guidelines

6.2.1 Discussion

The current Framework contains a set of policy guidelines (see Appendix B) that comprises the basic policy direction of the Program. For the purpose of this review, four broad themes for the future direction of Canadian spectrum management are identified. The proposed modifications to the policy guidelines are drafted and organized to respond to these themes. The themes are:

  1. facilitating access to spectrum;
  2. making spectrum available to meet priority requirements and societal needs;
  3. improving the utilization of the spectrum resource; and
  4. delivery of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program.

Each of the broad themes is discussed in the following sections and corresponding proposals to modify related policy guidelines are presented. Comment is invited on these proposals for modifications to the current policy guidelines. In the meantime the current policy guidelines of the 2002 Framework will apply.

6.2.2 Facilitating Access to Spectrum for all Canadians
6.2.2.1 Discussion

Canadians will benefit most if the appropriate spectrum for communications can be readily accessed for use, where and when required. Furthermore, it is important that the Department endeavours to provide flexibility and adaptability to allow its clients to respond to technological advances, and economic, social and market factors.

It is critical that the Department remove unnecessary impediments to making spectrum available to meet specific communications needs.

The Program allocates spectrum in Canada within the provisions of the International Table of Frequency Allocations administered by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). By grouping compatible radio services, the utilization of the spectrum can be increased and the probability of interference reduced. Nevertheless, the Department also recognizes the benefit of enabling licensees and potential users to adapt their communications systems to meet changing requirements. The Department will generally adopt measures which provide the greatest degree of flexibility feasible in the use of allocated spectrum, within the bounds of promoting orderly and efficient use and also adhering to sound technical considerations.

The Department also recognizes the benefit of using a domestic frequency allocation regime that is harmonized, to the extent possible, with those of other countries to achieve synergy in reducing equipment costs and opening markets for Canadian suppliers. This requires Canada to strive to obtain decisions on international frequency allocations which best serve Canadian interests.

Despite adding flexibility to the application of the allocation regime, there will occasionally be instances where a reallocation of spectrum from one service to another is warranted. The Department continues to retain all discretion to reallocate spectrum at any time.

Another aspect relates to the use of spectrum management tools designed to make spectrum available to those who value it the most. Where feasible, the Department will seek to maximize reliance on market forces and economic incentives to determine who uses spectrum and how much they use. In all cases the Department will facilitate the availability of suitable spectrum to bring new services to Canadians.

6.2.2.2 Proposal

The proposal for revised policy guidelines attributed to the theme, Facilitating access to spectrum for all Canadians, is given below. The current policy guidelines are included in Appendix  B for comparison.

New Policy Guideline 1 — Allocation of Frequency Bands to Radio Services

Bands of radiofrequency spectrum are allocated in Canada to particular radio services to accommodate radiocommunication systems with generally compatible coexistence characteristics in order to maximize the utilization of the spectrum and mitigate potential interference.

The Department will generally facilitate the greatest degree of flexibility in the use of allocated spectrum, within the bounds of promoting orderly and efficient use and also adhering to sound technical considerations. While striving to best meet Canadian requirements, the Department will generally advocate, internationally, spectrum allocations that are harmonized on as broad a basis as possible.

Rationale: The proposal indicates the importance of harmonization of spectrum allocations with other countries. The proposed Policy Guideline 1 (Policy Guideline 1) consolidates the current Policy Guideline 2 with an element of Policy Guideline 1.

New Policy Guideline 2 — Designation of Spectrum to Usage

In order to promote efficient and optimal utilization of the spectrum resource by grouping together systems of similar characteristics, spectrum may also be designated on the basis of useFootnote 2 as a further precision of the allocation. The spectrum designations are intended to accommodate a diversity of applications and users. The Department will provide licensees the flexibility to adapt their service offerings to meet changing demands within the practical limits of the allocation and designation.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 2 is in keeping with the desire to accommodate greater flexibility in spectrum use, where feasible. This is currently an element of Policy Guideline 1.

New Policy Guideline 3 — Radio Systems or Services Displacement

The Department will reallocate spectrum, which could result in displacement of existing services or systems from a particular band, only where necessary. A reasonable period of notice will be given to existing spectrum users, including any conditions or circumstances associated with a displacement to make spectrum available for new services. The release of reallocated spectrum will be based on the timelines for implementing new services, to the extent practical.

The Department will not be responsible or liable to financially compensate spectrum users who become displaced.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 3 is intended to provide additional clarity to the current Policy Guideline 7 on departmental policy regarding displacement.

New Policy Guideline 4 — Economic Principles of Spectrum Management

The Department will strive to maximize the benefits to society, generated by the use of the radiofrequency spectrum, through economically efficient resource allocation and to rely as much as possible on market forces and economic incentives to determine who uses spectrum, how they use it, and how much they pay for it. The Department will capture economic rentsFootnote 3 for the public where rents exist and recover spectrum management costs where rents do not exist. The Department will endeavour: to avoid taking action that may create artificial spectrum scarcity; to establish rules that ensure that competition for spectrum resources is fair and effective; and to create and maintain a stable environment for spectrum users.

Rationale: The Department's intent is to rely as much as possible on market forces and economic incentives in spectrum management. Regulation is to be fair, open and justified. The proposed Policy Guideline 4 would supersede the current Policy Guideline 4, Policy Guideline 9 and an element of Policy Guideline 1.

New Policy Guideline 5 — Licensing Process

The Department will continue to select the appropriate licensing process for different spectrum resources. The First-Come, First-Served licensing process will be employed where the Department believes spectrum supply is adequate to meet demand.

A competitive licensing process, either an auction or a comparative review, will be used when the Department believes that the demand may exceed the supply. An auction will be used when government policy objectives can be fully met through the various means available and where reliance on market forces to select licences is deemed to be in the public interest.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 5 outlines the licensing processes and their application. It would supersede the current Policy Guideline 8. The aspects of roll-out requirements and the licensing of technology trials of the current Policy Guideline 8 are incorporated in other proposed Policy Guideline's.

New Policy Guideline 6 — Facilitating the Use of Spectrum

In order to allow for licensees and other players in the telecommunications industry to maximize the benefit derived from the use of the spectrum, the Department will provide opportunities for secondary market trading where appropriate. Furthermore, the Department will endeavour to provide as much certainty as possible under the circumstances in order to allow licensees to plan for the long term.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 6 states the Department's intent to facilitate access to spectrum by providing greater opportunities for its use.

New Policy Guideline 7 — Timely Release of Spectrum

The Department will release spectrum for use on a licensed, and a licence-exempt basis, in a timely manner so that it can be used to produce benefits for all Canadians. Spectrum will not be withheld, except where necessary to satisfy specific policy issues.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 7 would update an element of the current Policy Guideline 1 to reflect the Department's emphasis on the timely release of spectrum both for licensed, as well as licence-exempt operations.

6.2.3 Making Spectrum Available to Meet Priority Requirements and Societal Needs
6.2.3.1 Discussion

Some important requirements for radiofrequency spectrum are not met by market forces alone, thus requiring a degree of government intervention.

Access to spectrum for security and sovereignty of the country, and safety of life, as provided by government and public safety bodies such as, National Defence, police, fire and ambulance, is of prime importance. The Department will continue to provide priority access to the spectrum for these important needs. The Department recognizes that one aspect of facilitating the functionality of public safety systems is to address the matter of interoperability of the radio systems used by various public safety agencies.

There will continue to be a requirement to facilitate access to spectrum for services to meet certain societal needs. As an example, facilitating access to spectrum may be necessary to bring certain radio services or applications to certain groups of people or to rural and remote areas of the country.

6.2.3.2 Proposal

The proposal for revised policy guidelines attributed to the theme, Making spectrum available to meet priority requirements and societal needs, is given below. The current policy guidelines are included in Appendix B for comparison.

New Policy Guideline 8 — Priority Communication Services

Radiocommunication systems vital to sovereignty and national security, National Defence, law enforcement, public safety and emergency response will be granted high priority and support in the access and use of the radiofrequency spectrum. The Department will encourage service interoperability among communication systems as required.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 8 would supersede the current Policy Guideline 3. Revisions are proposed to indicate the importance of facilitating interoperability among public safety users.

New Policy Guideline 9 — Availability of Advanced Communication Services for all Canadians

The Department will facilitate access and use of the radiofrequency spectrum for the development of communication systems to meet societal needs that would not otherwise be achieved by market forces alone, such as communication services in rural and remote areas.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 9 would clarify the Department's intent to take societal needs into account in facilitating access to spectrum.

6.2.4 Improving the Utilization of the Spectrum Resource
6.2.4.1 Discussion

The Department uses certain traditional spectrum management tools to increase the efficiency of the use of the spectrum, avoid harmful radio interference and generally increase use of the spectrum. Recently this focus has shifted somewhat to rely to a greater extent on the use of economic incentives to promote efficient use of the spectrum resource. However, there is still a requirement to use and enhance many of these traditional spectrum management tools.

The implementation of new technology, optimized to meet communication service demands, often has the additional benefit of increasing spectrum utilization. As well, some evolving technologies, for example software-defined and cognitive radio, offer the prospect of increasing the flexibility of spectrum management practices. Certain approaches such as underlaying radio services, using the noise temperature concept to move regulation of interference from transmitters to receivers, and considering the re-introduction of radio receiver standards, may also enhance spectrum utilization. The Department will monitor and encourage the implementation of these technologies to augment the efficiency and flexibility of the use of spectrum.

The Department recognizes the role of research and development (R&D) in bringing new technology to the radiocommunications marketplace. The Department proposes to retain text to indicate that R&D commitments will continue as a condition of licensing in certain situations.

6.2.4.2 Proposal

The proposal for revised policy guidelines attributed to the theme, Improving the utilization of the spectrum resource,is given below. The current policy guidelines are included in Appendix B for comparison.

New Policy Guideline 10 — Facilitating Advances in Technology

The Department will facilitate the deployment of advanced technologies that augment the use of the radiofrequency spectrum and/or provide new services to Canadians. The Department will authorize radiocommunication system trials and new technology experiments where warranted.

As research and development supports the development of advanced technologies, the Department will continue to establish radiocommunication R&D requirements for certain licensees, in consultation with industry, whenever appropriate.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 10 would supersede the current Policy Guideline 10 and elements of Policy Guideline's 1 and 8. This indicates the intent of the Department to facilitate the implementation of advanced technologies.

New Policy Guideline 11 — Radiocommunication Standards

Conformance to common standards and the use of conformity assessment procedures are required in certain instances to ensure orderly development, to avoid harmful interference and to facilitate operational compatibility of radio systems. They should include only those requirements which can be demonstrated to be necessary for good spectrum management. Coexistence of multiple standards in certain frequency bands may be permitted. The Department will strive to obtain harmonization of Canadian standards and conformity assessment procedures with international standards to the greatest extent possible.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 11 is intended to provide clarity of the Department's policy on the use of standards by updating and combining the text of Policy Guideline 11 and an element of Policy Guideline 1.

New Policy Guideline 12 — Increasing Spectrum Utilization

In the development of spectrum management policy and practice, due regard will be given to promoting the utilization of the spectrum by the use of spectrum efficient techniques and frequency sharing among radio services.

As well, once radio systems have been authorized, the Department may ensure that these systems are implemented within a reasonable time and radio frequencies are utilized efficiently. In order to ensure that the radio system is implemented in a timely fashion, the Department may establish as a condition of licence a reasonable period for radio station installation to take place and service to begin within a certain time period.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 12 would consolidate existing Policy Guideline's 5 and 6 along with an element of Policy Guideline 8.

New Policy Guideline 13 — Interference Mitigation and Frequency Coordination

The Department will strive to ensure that the effects of interference are minimized or managed to acceptable limits. Coordination will normally be required for licensees to permit service availability to users in adjacent service areas or in adjacent spectrum. The Department generally encourages the holders of area licences and certain site-specific licences to coordinate amongst themselves.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 13 is intended to clarify the text of an element of the current Policy Guideline 1.

6.2.5 Delivery of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program
6.2.5.1 Discussion

The Department undertakes a number of commitments as part of its delivery of the Program. For instance, it assesses and implements new approaches in spectrum management and also maintains regular consultation with the public on proposed changes to spectrum management policy and procedures. Another aspect is advancing Canada's interests in spectrum usage internationally in bodies such as the ITU.

6.2.5.2 Proposal

The proposal for revised policy guidelines attributed to the theme, Delivery of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program,is given below. The current policy guidelines are included in Appendix B for comparison.

New Policy Guideline 14 — New Approaches for Policy and Practice in Spectrum Management

The Department will assess new approaches to policy and practice in spectrum management on a continuing basis and implement these new approaches where warranted.

Rationale: This rewriting of the current Policy Guideline 15 is intended to apply the proposed Policy Guideline 14 broadly to spectrum management.

New Policy Guideline 15 — Public Consultation

The Department will continue to use the most modern means to collect and disseminate information and ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to allow interested parties to provide input to the Department on spectrum matters.

Note: The proposed Policy Guideline 15 would supersede the current Policy Guideline 13.

New Policy Guideline 16 — Advancing Canadian Interests Internationally

The Department will continue to exercise leadership and commitment to Canadian involvement in regional and international spectrum matters.

Rationale: The proposed Policy Guideline 16 would supersede the current Policy Guideline 14. The examples of current Policy Guideline 14 would be removed to generalize the Policy Guideline. The marketing of Canadian expertise and products remains a government commitment. However, it is not necessary to retain this aspect of the current Policy Guideline 14 as part of the Framework.

7. Plan for the Revision of the Framework and Invitation for Comment

This consultation has proposed a revision to the Framework consisting of modifications to the core objectives and policy guidelines. Comments are invited on these proposals and any other matters related to the development of the revised Framework. The existing Framework will remain in effect until reissued following consideration of the public comments.


Part B — Consultation on Advancing the Canadian Spectrum Management Program

8. Introduction

Part A of this document has advanced proposals for public comment on revisions to the Framework. In order to provide a fuller context for this consideration, the Department has prepared Part B to indicate its plans and ideas for advancing a range of related issues in spectrum management in the next five to seven years.

It is the Department's view that the additional information provided by the discussion of these topics in spectrum management in Part B will assist the reader in preparing comments on the proposed revisions to the Framework. Public comment on the issues discussed in Part B is also invited.

9. Ongoing Improvements to the Canadian Spectrum Management System

Canada has administered an advanced spectrum management system for decades. The cornerstone of the Canadian Spectrum Management Program has been the establishment and continual modernization of the appropriate legislation, regulations, policies, procedures and technical standards.

One particular aspect of the Program has been the designation of spectrum (a finer degree of frequency allocation) to a use, rather than to a user as has been done in some other countries. In addition, Program regulations and technical standards were modified over the past decade to be technology-neutral. These two aspects have afforded the Program a large degree of flexibility in the past years to adapt to evolving needs.

Another important aspect of the Program has been building consensus with industry on technical standards and related matters. Their development has been carried out in partnership with the Radio Advisory Board of Canada, an industry advisory body. The Canadian Government has also placed a priority on reaching favourable agreements in international fora on matters affecting the radiofrequency spectrum. This has served to support the Program as well as enhance the reputation of Canada in these fora.

The Department has maintained an advanced Program by placing an emphasis on making improvements on an ongoing basis. For example, a number of improvements to licensing processes have been implemented. Auctions were introduced as a form of competitive licensing. Radio Systems Policy 020 (RP-020) identifies the spectrum resources and the associated licensing process that would be applied. Licensing processes have been streamlined and electronic filing introduced for additional classes of licences. Licences for all cellular and incumbent PCS spectrum have been converted to 10-year spectrum licences with transferability and divisibility privileges.

Access to spectrum for new service applications has been promoted in both licensed and licence-exempt spectrum. Licensing processes have been greatly liberalized and simplified for microwave systems, mobile satellite and fixed satellite carried out on a First-Come, First-Served (FCFS) basis. The Department has also augmented the use of spectrum in the VHF/UHF frequency range, by introducing redeployment for land mobile systems and accommodating public safety services at 700 MHz.

10. Advancing the Canadian Spectrum Management Program — A Review of the Actions of some other Countries

Many other countries are actively reviewing their spectrum management programs with the goal of making improvements and adapting them to a more market-oriented economy. The Department is carefully reviewing these developments to determine which ones may merit consideration for Canadian application.

Auctions have become the licensing tool of choice in countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Australia and New Zealand when spectrum demand exceeds supply. This allows those most cognizant of the value of spectrum to bid competitively for the right to exploit this resource, thereby ensuring an economically efficient assignment of spectrum licences to those who value them the most. Licences granted under these types of processes may confer long-term privileges and an expectation of renewal.

To further promote economic efficiency, spectrum management authorities in several countries are actively promoting trading and lease arrangements to develop secondary markets for spectrum that will allow spectrum to migrate to its most highly valued use with minimal hindrance of regulatory oversight.

There is also recognition of the profound impact that rapid technological change has on the use of radiocommunications. For example, in the US, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Spectrum Policy Task Force (SPTF) concluded, among other issues, that spectrum access is a more significant problem than physical lack of spectrum, due in part to the legacy of "command and control" regulation. The SPTF also concluded that the advent of new technologies such as cognitive radios, combined with additional regulatory flexibility, could increase spectrum access. One of the SPTF's recommendations was that the FCC adopt more market-oriented spectrum management models that would be "based on clear definitions of the rights and responsibilities of both licensed and unlicensed (licence-exempt) spectrum users, particularly with respect to interference and interference protection".

However, while Canada will always be affected by technical and policy developments in the US, due to proximity as well as strong economic ties, we should also be cognizant of developments in other countries. In this regard, the Ofcom in the UK has commissioned numerous studies on spectrum pricing and the economic impact of the use of radio. They have also substituted spectrum pricing for cost recovery as the basis for setting radiofrequency spectrum licence fees so that fees for access to spectrum will reflect the value of that spectrum. Additionally, they wish to introduce "incentive pricing" for licences to promote an economically efficient allocation of licences as well as technically efficient use of spectrum.

11. Potential Opportunities to Further Advance the Canadian Spectrum Management

In order to facilitate the discussion on further potential enhancements to the Program, this section raises a range of issues for consideration. Associated proposals and questions for public comment are included.

To assist the reader, in relating this discussion to that of the proposed revisions to the Framework found in Part A, references are made for each issue to the applicable policy guidelines.

11.1 Harmonized Use of the Radiofrequency Spectrum

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 1
Background

Over the past decade, the Department has increasingly implemented spectrum allocations and policies that align with other countries on a global and/or regional basis. This practice has been adopted by most countries in the world, spurred on by deregulation of the telecommunications markets and the economies of scale associated with the production of the equipment used to access these frequencies.

Scenario

Canada has always aligned with major international markets in many non-commercial radio services such as radionavigation, space research, earth exploration satellite, and maritime mobile services. As well, cellular and personal communications have been harmonized with those of the US to facilitate commercial roaming arrangements. Public consultations on the use of new wireless frequency bands have consistently supported harmonized bands and channel block structures. The benefits of harmonized use of the spectrum are many, for example:

  • lower equipment costs due to economies of scale;
  • encouraging innovation;
  • opportunities for Canadian manufacturers in foreign markets;
  • efficient and simplified arrangements with the US in the border areas;
  • reduced enforcement by minimizing uncertified or "grey market" equipment; and
  • facilitating certification of radiocommunications equipment.

However, one aspect of the harmonization of spectrum use with other countries is a consequential reduction of flexibility in the modification of domestic frequency allocations.

In order to provide a high-level of spectrum harmonization, it is imperative that Canadian interests are heard and defended in international standards and regulatory bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL). Decisions by these organizations to designate spectrum for a particular use can have a significant impact on existing users.

Proposal

Canada should continue to identify the necessary steps to promote the harmonization of the use of radiofrequency spectrum on a regional and global scale.

Questions

(1) What steps can Canada take to further harmonize spectrum allocations, policies, standards and regulations to the greatest extent possible?

(2) How can Canadian interests be further advanced in the international fora responsible for developing standards and regulations for new wireless technologies and services?

11.2 Licence-Exempt Spectrum

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 1
Background

Canada and other countries have established frequency bands or channels to accommodate licence-exempt consumer radio products. Such products are not licensed but are designed to operate in specific designated bands meeting certain technical requirements. Typical consumer products are the ubiquitous residential cordless phone, baby monitors and wireless microphones. Our experience shows that Canadian consumers have an appetite for a range of electronic technology, wireless products and services.

Recently there has been a marked increase in demand for licence-exempt devices for applications such as Radio Local Area Networks (RLANs) in both residential and commercial environments, and rural and remote fixed wireless access. This has been stimulated in part through the proactive efforts of industry standards bodies such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which has prepared standards for Wi-Fi devices (802.11) operating at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and for broadband wireless MAN (Metropolitan Area Networks) systems (802.16) which are promoted through the efforts of the Wi-MAX Forum.

Scenario

The mass consumer distribution of these licence-exempt products in the North American and world marketplaces has rendered these products ubiquitously available at affordable prices in Canada.

However, the Department is of the view that the Canadian market is not large enough in most instances to be able to support the design, manufacture and deployment of products for unique Canadian licence-exempt bands. Section 11.1 presents the Department's views on the desirability of the harmonization of the use of the radiofrequency spectrum with that of other countries. The approach of the Department has been to anticipate the opening of new bands or frequencies for licence-exempt products for major markets such as in the United States or on a worldwide level. The Department then adopts a process to open similar spectrum resources on a timely basis and establishes the technical requirements to certify new consumer products for the benefit of the Canadian marketplace. This process ensures the economies of scale needed for products sold in Canada so that they are available at an affordable cost, and minimizes potential grey markets.

In some cases the process of making spectrum available for licence-exempt operations may result in a requirement to address a transition in a band from licensed to licence-exempt operations. This situation may be a result of having to accommodate, for example, spectrum developments in the US or Europe where existing uses in Canada are different, and may typically be licensed.

Furthermore, in opening new spectrum for licence-exempt operations, there may be significant benefits in ensuring that, through a certification process or other means, licence-exempt devices of similar use operate within the same band. (For example, the operation of garage door openers in the same spectrum as broadband fixed wireless access applications could be considered inefficient spectrum utilization.) This would ensure that the spectrum is effectively developed and that the spectrum can evolve without concern about the so-called "tragedy of the commons" which can occur when a common unregulated resource is inefficiently exploited by the actions of individuals. Others may argue that, since the licence-exempt spectrum is "licence-free" and devices are not protected from interference, no special oversight is needed, as technical innovation, including improved band-sharing techniques, will occur without government intervention.

Nevertheless, certain licence-exempt applications may warrant departmental oversight through processes such as device registration, in addition to minimum technical standards and/or manufacturers' spectrum coexistence etiquettes. This can be especially important in licensed bands where it will provide a means to ensure that licence-exempt usage will not create harmful interference conditions for the primary users and that the rights of the primary users will be protected.

Proposal

The Department will continue to monitor the need for licence-exempt bands or frequencies and make them available for use on a timely basis.

An important area that the Department is currently addressing is ultra-wideband (UWB) technology and its applications (See discussion in Section 11.7). The matter of future implementation in Canada is raised in the Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 3-30 MHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation, released in October 2004. Also, new spectrum in the 5 GHz range was identified for licence-exempt products, and international regulations put in place, at the ITU WRC-03. The implementation in Canada was the subject of public consultation in Gazette Notice DGTP-005-04.

Questions

The Department has adopted an accelerated approach to opening new spectrum for consumer products developed for the US and broader markets, in order to take advantage of the mass market and the economies of scale.

(3) What additional spectrum should the Department make available for licence-exempt devices and what regulatory and technical provisions should be adopted for their use? Does this include consideration of currently licensed spectrum, and if so, what provisions could be adopted to facilitate transition to licence-exempt operation or band sharing between licensed and licence-exempt operation? Would a device registration process provide sufficient safeguards to licensed operations?

(4) Would it be realistic to open some of the FCFS fixed microwave spectrum as licence-exempt operations where it may not align with the US market (e.g. some of the reserved 23 GHz band)? How could these installations be controlled so they do not interfere with US-licensed services along the border?

(5) What means could be developed to ensure that licence-exempt consumer equipment in the field operates within established limits (e.g. e.i.r.p., antenna directivity, channel bandwidth, out-of-band emissions) and what flexibility should be permitted?

(6) Should the Department consider existing or new licence-exempt bands with a view to facilitating longer communications ranges for licence-free devices or system applications unique to the Canadian environment, such as rural and remote broadband fixed wireless access?

11.3 Increased Spectrum-Usage Flexibility in the Domestic Allocation of Spectrum and Spectrum Policies

Part A reference: Policy Guideline 1
Background

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations establishes the permitted allocations of radio services for use in Canada. The Table is based on the ITU's Table of Frequency Allocations and generally includes one or more domestic allocations in a particular frequency band from a larger number of services allocated in the International Table in that band. For example, the mobile and fixed services are normally co-allocated at the international level, whereas at the domestic level traditionally one of those services was allocated, and occasionally both.

Canadian radio systems policies and spectrum utilization policies set the required policy elements for the use of frequency bands and/or radio services. Among other matters, spectrum policies have traditionally designated the use of a radio service to certain applications in a particular frequency band, or bands. Examples include designating the use of a mobile radio application for public safety applications or designating a fixed allocation to wideband Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS).

Over the past few years, the Department has made decisions in spectrum policy and the Table that generally broaden the permitted uses of the radiofrequency spectrum. Multiple services may be allocated in a band and greater latitude in the use of the spectrum granted. As an example, the spectrum used for Personal Communications Services (PCS) has no limitations on the nature of the type of mobile or fixed communications aside from meeting minimal technical criteria designed to deal with adjacent band interference. The policy concerning cellular systems has retroactively been modified to make it consistent with that of PCS.

Scenario

It has been argued that enabling additional flexibility in the use of the spectrum will facilitate the accommodation of emerging and expanding uses. In many instances it could enable licensees to adapt their radio systems to meet changing requirements, subject to any required coordination with other systems.

On the other hand, an excessive level of flexibility may result in radio systems with incompatible characteristics using the same spectrum. Certain types of radio systems cannot co-exist efficiently. Nevertheless, there is also an ongoing need to ensure that appropriate spectrum is identified for public safety and national security requirements.

Some parties promote increasing the flexibility in the use of currently licensed spectrum. For example, they would advocate enabling a spectrum licence, issued for the fixed service, to also permit the provision of mobile PCS service. On the other hand there are others who argue that these licensees should not receive the windfall profits that may accrue from a significant broadening of the permitted usage of the licensed spectrum.

Proposal

To continue to provide additional flexibility in the use of the spectrum while taking the licensing regime into account. Strive to achieve the appropriate balance between flexibility in the use of spectrum for new, as well as existing, licences while still meeting legal requirements and other policy objectives.

Questions

(7) For which services and in which situations should greater flexibility of spectrum use be afforded?

(8) Under what situations and criteria would it be appropriate to consider extending this greater flexibility to existing licences?

11.4 Enhanced Spectrum-Usage Privileges

Part A Reference: Policy Guidelines 4, 6
Background

In recent years, the Department has begun to introduce enhanced spectrum-usage privileges for certain spectrum licences such as ten-year term licences and transferability and divisibility privileges. Ten-year terms and transferability and divisibility privileges were granted to licensees of fixed wireless broadband (24/38 GHz licensed in 1999), PCS (2 GHz licensed in 2001), MCS (2500 MHz licensed in 1999) and WCS and FWA (2.3/3.5 GHz licensed in 2004). Furthermore, in December 2003, the Department released a policy granting transferability and divisibility privileges to cellular and incumbent PCS licences. Where appropriate, the Department may consider granting longer terms of licence and transferability and divisibility privileges to licences awarded in other processes.

The vast majority of licences awarded by the Department have been through the FCFS process. The bulk of these licences are for site-coordinated frequency assignments. However, there are some cases where blocks of spectrum covering relatively large geographical areas have been assigned, or aggregated over time.

Recently, licensees who are interested in entering into lease-type arrangements with third parties have approached the Department. Currently, if a licensee enters into a lease-type arrangement with a third party, they typically will jointly apply to the Department for a transfer of licence. This has not been a suitable solution for licensees. The Department notes that some other countries have implemented policies to more accurately reflect the reality of lease-type commercial arrangements. Those countries believe that this increased flexibility could allow licensees to increase the use of their spectrum without having to transfer it outright.

Proposal

The Department will be determining whether, and if so, how and under what conditions licensees with transferability and divisibility privileges may provide access to third parties following the outcome of a forthcoming consultation on third party access to spectrum licences. Further consultations are also anticipated to discuss the possibility of applying longer terms of licence and transferability and divisibility privileges to a wider range of radio authorizations.

Questions

(9) Should the Department extend transferability and divisibility privileges to other licensees? If so, which should be considered the highest priority and what timing would be appropriate?

(10) Are the current privileges associated with both spectrum and site licences sufficiently defined (this may include technical and operation parameters) to facilitate access to spectrum, the ease of trading the spectrum and the flexibility to offer a range of advanced wireless services?

11.5 Streamlining the First-Come, First-Served Licensing Process

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 5
Background

The FCFS approach currently accounts for more than 95% of radio licensing. It is expected that this licensing process will continue to be used in situations where it is anticipated that the demand for spectrum can be accommodated with the available supply.

Due to the anticipated continued reliance on FCFS licensing, the Department continues to investigate and pursue ways of further improving the FCFS process. In the past few years, substantial progress has been made in streamlining the process for services such as the land mobile, fixed microwave, mobile-satellite and fixed-satellite. Electronic filing of applications has been implemented and information required for these filings has been reduced to a minimum.

In addition, licence application procedures for stations in the fixed service were streamlined with the release of RSP-113, Issue 5, dated November 8, 2002. The RSP was updated to reflect the streamlined approach to microwave licensing policy brought about by RP-022, dated June 9, 2001. Issue 5 also updated the RSP with references to Spectrum Management and Telecommunications and Spectrum Direct Web sites and encourages clients to utilize both of these tools.

A further process exists in shared frequency blocks at 38 GHz. As prescribed in SP 23/38 GHz and detailed in CPC-2-1-17 and SRSP-338.6, users may be granted non-exclusive licences for spectrum within a geographic area on a FCFS basis. One of the key aspects of this process is that the spectrum blocks can be authorized to several users within the same area on a coordinated basis. Coordination is performed by the user community, with minimal departmental oversight.

Equipment is evolving with characteristics and capabilities, which facilitate the shared use of spectrum. This is particularly true in the licence-exempt bands where systems typically operate on a no-interference/no-protection basis. These capabilities are being migrated to equipment intended for use in licensed bands. In recent consultations, the Department is considering non-exclusive FCFS authorization for use of spectrum within a given area in a number of bands, such as those at 4.9 GHz and 5.8 GHz.

Scenario

For microwave FCFS licence applications near the Canada/US border, certain licensing approvals may be delayed due to coordination processes required by treaty agreement between the Canadian and US administrations. The Department could consider establishing alternative spectrum management approaches for FCFS applications in the border areas. This may include a more general application of cross-border operator-to-operator coordination with minimal departmental oversight, or the establishment of limits or triggers on power flux-density for coordination at the border. Another option might include the application of a block-and-zone band management approach over an entire microwave band or sub-band, similar to arrangements between the Department and the FCC in the border areas for many of the land mobile bands.

In the land mobile bands, the licensing process is more complex and time consuming as spectrum is severely congested in many areas. In certain land mobile bands, an investigation of channel occupancy and Grade of Service may be carried out. A rearrangement of frequencies, frequency sharing or redeployment to more spectrally efficient technologies is often required before licensing. This may also involve imposing more stringent technical parameters to accommodate all users and ensuring that there are spare resources to meet the priority needs of public safety. It is anticipated that there will be a continuing need for the Department to oversee the FCFS licensing process in order to accommodate these situations.

The Department generally anticipates that the licensing of spectrum on an area basis in urban areas will generate sufficient initial interest that a competitive process will be required. In rural areas, however, the initial demand is typically lower, with much less probability that multiple applicants will wish to use the same spectrum to serve the same area. The availability of several licences to use spectrum within a band in a given area further reduces the possibility of mutually exclusive demands precipitating the requirement for a competitive process in many rural areas.

Proposal

To pursue the feasibility of further streamlining the FCFS licensing process and making other appropriate changes for future use, such as accelerated licence approvals for applications near the Canada/US border.

There are some frequency bands where only a few licences have been awarded and a large number of frequency channels are available. In some cases, certain channels could be awarded through large-area, long-term spectrum licences. Applications could be considered on an FCFS basis.

It is expected that the Department will continue to rely on the FCFS licensing process for a significant portion of its licensing regime.

Questions

(11) In which areas do you see the Department further improving the FCFS process?

(12) Are there other principles such as non-exclusivity, which can be applied to the FCFS process for authorization of spectrum on an area basis in situations where it would be normally anticipated that a competitive process would be required?

11.6 The Roll-out of Licensed Radio Systems — Putting Spectrum to Use to Serve Canadians

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 12
Background

Traditional licensing practices have been based on the premise that the provision of licensed spectrum is required to meet a particular communications requirement. A natural extension of this premise was that a licensee's spectrum requirement would be demonstrated by the deployment of the licensed radio system. Where the terms of deployment were included as a condition of licence, and the radio system was not implemented, the Minister could revoke the licence upon consent, or by giving notice to the licensee and a reasonable opportunity to make representations to the Minister.

Scenario

The Department has traditionally imposed roll-out requirements as a condition of licence on licensees requiring that licensed spectrum is deployed for the benefit of Canadians. For example, the Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of Spectrum Licences in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz Bands revised in July 2004 states, "...licensees will be required, as a condition of licence, to demonstrate that their spectrum is being put to use at a level acceptable to the Department within five years of receipt of licence(s). The establishment of coverage to 50% of the population within the licensed service area, or some other indicator of usage that is acceptable to the Department, such as the plans the licensee has for developing the spectrum and/or how accommodating the licensee has been in facilitating the development of the spectrum through the secondary market, will be required".

Proposal

To continue the use of a regime which requires that the spectrum resource is developed over a reasonable period of time.

Questions

(13) Is there a need to review and improve the current practice of placing roll-out requirements on licensees?

(14) Should the Department expand the use of mechanisms to make available unused spectrum, like it did with the new party cellular policy given in RP-019, which enables an entity to obtain a licence for otherwise unserved or underserved areas?

(15) Given the increased usage privileges offered to licensees, should the Department continue to include deployment requirements as a condition of licence or, alternatively, rely on market forces to ensure that the spectrum moves to the highest valued use and user?

11.7 Implementation of New Technologies and New Spectrum Management Concepts

Part A References: Policy Guidelines 10, 14
Background

Some new technologies are emerging which may provide improvements in the use and access to spectrum. Recent innovations in wireless technology, such as cognitive radio, software defined radio (SDR) and UWB technology can be considered potential catalysts for change in how the radiofrequency spectrum is managed. New concepts in spectrum management are emerging as a result.

Cognitive radio will sense and be aware of its operational environment, and be able to dynamically and autonomously adjust its operations accordingly. SDR technology is expected to provide the capability to adjust the radiofrequency operating parameters of a communication device (e.g. frequency, modulation and coding techniques, channel bandwidth and output power) simply by making changes to the system software. Aside from the operational benefits of such radio capabilities, it is expected that a combination of SDR and cognitive radio will offer a large degree of flexibility and adaptability in the way that radio systems make use of the radiofrequency spectrum.

Although full SDR and cognitive radio functionality is not expected for another five to ten years, it should be noted that certain capabilities are already incorporated in many radio systems including cellular radio handsets, microwave radio relay and fixed wireless access systems. Similarly, cognitive radio applications are being introduced into radio LANs operating in the 5 GHz band.

UWB is another technology that has important implications for radiofrequency spectrum management. UWB operates at very low-power levels over a very large bandwidth to communicate high-speed data over short distances. In February 2005, the Department initiated a consultation on the introduction of UWB. The document, Consultation Paper on the Introduction of Wireless Systems Using Ultra-wideband Technology can be accessed at http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf08285.html.

These technologies have the potential to improve the flexibility of radio systems and facilitate spectrum sharing and enable the exploitation of white space. "White space" is a term used to characterize underutilized frequency bands. This may be on a temporal (time) or geographic basis. Two challenges facing the exploitation of white space are determining the instances where white space exists, and determining a means of accessing that underutilized spectrum so that interference does not occur. Opportunistic and dynamic use of existing bands by licence-exempt devices might be achieved through cognitive radio techniques. This is particularly relevant in rural areas where spectrum is typically less congested, and there is less probability of interference.

Identifying where and when white spaces in the radiofrequency spectrum might exist could be facilitated through the identification of interference limits. For example, the use of a metric called "interference temperature" has been proposed in the United States, although other metrics, such as power spectral density could also be considered. This could enable, for example, the opportunistic use of radiofrequency spectrum provided that the mandated interference limits are not exceeded. In other words, licence-exempt devices using cognitive, SDR or UWB techniques could be permitted to operate in licensed spectrum provided that they adapt their operations to ensure that the mandated interference limit is not exceeded.

The FCC has proposed the use of interference temperature as one means of moving the management of interference away from regulations and practices based primarily on radio transmitter characteristics, to considering also the effect of radio receivers. However in Canada, the Department has traditionally been less transmitter-centric, generally authorizing lower transmitting tower heights and powers and tailoring the coverage of mobile systems to meet service requirements.

In Canada, the Department had employed radio receiver standards within the mobile services for many years for the expressed purpose of minimizing the potential of interference to operating systems and ensuring efficient use of the spectrum. Following consultation with industry, the Department removed the mandate on mobile radio receiver standards in two stages culminating in 1993, to facilitate harmonization with the FCC. Indeed, the re-introduction of radio receiver standards in Canada, in whole or in part, could become a significant instrument in improving access to the radiofrequency spectrum.

The Department is soliciting public comment to assist in determining to what extent these innovations in technology and spectrum management practices might increase the use and access of the radiofrequency spectrum in the foreseeable future.

Scenario

New technologies are emerging that may provide improvements in the use and access to spectrum, and new spectrum management concepts may be enabled as a result. Consideration should be given to evaluating the potential benefits of these developments.

An area of particular interest is increasing access for services currently licensed in highly congested frequency ranges. A case in point is the VHF/UHF land mobile bands (150 MHz, 400 MHz and 800 MHz) traditionally used for mobile dispatch operations and other purposes, including public safety. Parts of these frequency ranges are also used by the fixed service on a secondary basis for narrowband, wireless access applications in rural, uncongested areas.

Due to the extensive demand for the use of these land mobile bands, the Department has implemented a number of measures in the past few years to augment their usage. This includes:

  • refarming (redeployment of legacy systems to more spectrally efficient technologies);
  • increasing the loading (occupancy) of channels and establishing a Grade of Service criteria to assist in the assignment of spectrum;
  • recovery of under-utilized frequencies;
  • evaluating needs and planning for public safety spectrum requirements;
  • fostering the development of integrated trunked systems to consolidate users with smaller mobile radio capacity requirements;
  • developing spectrum sharing arrangements and criteria that maximize access to spectrum in border areas for Canadians;
  • developing sharing criteria to improve spectrum reuse in border areas;
  • introducing shared land mobile and broadcast allocations; and
  • responding to demand for licence-exempt allocations.
Proposal

The Department will continue to implement new spectrum management measures, where feasible, in order to increase spectrum utilization in congested frequency bands and enhance the communications capacity of spectrum in bands, such as VHF/UHF, by adopting measures to encourage the use of new technologies, where feasible.

Many of the topics discussed in this section will be the subjects of more detailed consultation papers.

Questions

The Department invites comment and views on the development of new technologies and new spectrum management concepts and their potential impact on the use of spectrum and spectrum management.

(16) Which technologies have the most promise of facilitating the use and management of the radiofrequency spectrum?

(17) Are there other technologies or technical issues that the Department should be investigating?

(18) Which technologies seem the most appropriate in meeting the challenge of accommodating additional mobile and wireless access users in the VHF/UHF bands?

11.8 Fostering Advanced Communication Services in Rural Canada

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 9
Background

Pursuant to s. 5(1.1) of the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister may have regard to the telecommunications policy objectives in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act. One such objective under subsection 7(b) of the Telecommunications Act is "to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality, accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada." Due to the high cost of delivering communications in rural (and remote) areas, the availability of advanced and innovative communication services tends to lag behind the services available in urban areas. Over the years, policies have been established to facilitate the extension of essential telecommunications, broadcasting and broadband services to rural (and remote) communities so that all Canadians can fully benefit from the social, cultural and economic opportunities of communications.

Broadcasting spectrum has been used to provide multi-channel subscription television distribution. Similarly, spectrum has been made available for single and multi-channel low-power broadcasting installations in rural communities. The CRTC has required telecommunications carriers to provide for single party-line telephone service; to offer dial-tone Internet access; and to extend broadband Internet access.

Spectrum policies have been established to extend cellular mobile service in rural areas and to promote fixed wireless access. With respect to the expansion of cellular mobile in unserved and underserved areas, policy supporting the New Party Cellular Service was implemented in 1998. The Department also opened up spectrum in the 3500 MHz band in high-cost serving areas prior to holding an auction for the remaining areas. The Department's "Geographical Differences Policy Guideline" within SP 1–20 GHz establishes a regime of relaxed radiofrequency spectrum parameters in uncongested spectrum areas.

The Department has also implemented a number of the government's initiatives in promoting broadband Internet access in rural (and remote) areas. For example, in October 2003, the Minister of Industry announced the launch of the Government of Canada's $155 million National Satellite Initiative. This joint project between Infrastructure Canada, Industry Canada, and the Canadian Space Agency will provide high-speed broadband Internet access services via satellite to communities located in remote and northern areas of Canada.

Scenario

The Department is of the view that existing and new spectrum policy, licensing procedures and technical requirements should be adapted to better meet the challenges of promoting wireless services of rural Canada.

One challenge has been how to define "rural". An example of a past approach has been the use of levels of spectrum saturation defined in RDP 100–500 MHz, Redeployment Plan for Spectrum Efficient Land Mobile Equipment in the Frequency Range 100–500 MHz to vary the application of policy provisions to suit urban and rural areas. Another example can be found in the 1998 Spectrum Utilization Policy 3400–3700 MHz, Spectrum Policy and Licensing Provisions for Fixed Wireless Access Systems in Rural Areas in the Frequency Range 3400–3700 MHz. By this policy, fixed wireless access spectrum in the 3500 MHz range was made available for licensing in low "teledensity", high-cost serving areas for telephony, as defined by the CRTC.

A possible future option might be basing the definition of "rural" on an accepted measure of population density while taking into account a defined separation from (urban) areas with spectrum congestion.

Proposal

To adapt departmental policy and procedures to further facilitate the provision of communications in rural and remote areas. For example:

  • determine an appropriate definition of "rural" for the purpose of describing areas with unserved and underserved communications;
  • modify the policy General Information Related to Spectrum Utilization and Radio Systems Policies (SP-Gen) to clearly delineate favourable provisions for the development of communication services in rural (and remote) areas;
  • facilitate the use of contiguous unused spectrum below 1 GHz for the deployment of lower-cost, broadband radio systems in rural (and remote) areas; and
  • relax the technical standards of communication systems, where feasible, in rural (and remote) areas to help reduce wireless infrastructure costs and to promote greater use of the spectrum.
Questions

The Department seeks input on the following questions related to further clarifying spectrum policies and procedures, and establishing incentives to promote the extension of communication services to rural markets.

(19) Should the definition of "rural" (and "remote") to describe areas with unserved or underserved communications, be based on population density as measured by Statistics Canada? What would be a practical approach for implementation?

(20) What policy and regulatory treatment would create conditions that best promote the extension of modern communication services to rural (and remote) areas?

  1. For example, should spectrum policies vary by geographic area according to the relative level of spectrum congestion or the demand for spectrum?
  2. In what manner should the technical and/or operational parameters for spectrum management policies and standards for wireless installations be relaxed in rural (and remote) areas?

11.9 Access to Spectrum for Public Safety Services

Part A Reference: Policy Guideline 8
Background

The public safety community needs access to significant quantities of land mobile spectrum to meet their communication requirements. The Department meets these requirements by giving priority access in licensing spectrum for public safety applicationsFootnote 4 in situations where there are competing demands for land mobile spectrum. In some frequency bands and geographical areas, the Department manages the spectrum to ensure the availability of spectrum for public safety.

There has been a historical lack of interoperability among the radio communication systems of public safety forces. Interoperability has many aspects – common spectrum, standards, integrated networking, administrative arrangements, etc. The Department has made common spectrum available on a national basis since 1990 in the 800 MHz band and common wide-area frequency assignments have been made in other bands over the years. However, for a number of reasons, interoperability has not often been placed as a priority in the design of communication systems for public safety agencies. Furthermore, the variation in frequency assignments geographically, to public safety services, in some bands, does not facilitate interoperability.

In October 2004, the Department released SP-746 MHz. This policy announced the decision to introduce the mobile service on a co-primary allocation basis with broadcasting in the band 746-806 MHz. This decision also included the designation of the spectrum of television channels 63 and 68 (764-770 MHz and 794-800 MHz) for public safety. In addition, it posed a number of specific questions for comment regarding interoperability among safety systems in the 700 MHz range.

Scenario

A prime objective in releasing new spectrum for public safety is to ensure that infrastructure is developed that will meet the needs of the public safety community including interoperability, common planning and open standards. This is particularly important in the establishment of new public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz and 4.9 GHz ranges.

In the past few years, the Department has increased its consultation with the public safety community to understand its spectrum and interoperability issues. A National Public Safety Radiocommunications Conference was held in March 2002 to discuss key issues, namely deficiencies in public safety radio services and the lack of interoperability among radio systems.

It has become evident that there is a need for planning new spectrum in a way that common radio systems are developed to meet the needs of police, fire protection, ambulance, emergency services and in some cases, national security. Common spectrum is required and so are common/open standards in order to ensure interoperability. Planning and developing this common infrastructure is very challenging, as there are many public safety services offered by many organizations, including different levels of government, across the country. These organizations have various levels of financial and technical resources.

In this regard, SP-746, released in October 2004, posed a number of specific questions for comment regarding interoperability among safety systems in the 700 MHz range.

Proposal

To establish an objective associated with the release of new spectrum for public safety that would seek the development of highly integrated and interoperable national/regional networks which can progressively accommodate common public safety requirements.

Questions

(21) Should the Department require that the licensing process for public safety systems consider the needs of the broader public safety community over larger geographical areas?

(22) Should the Department adopt standards which include the aspect of interoperability of public safety mobile systems?

  1. Should these standards be open standards to ensure that equipment from various vendors can operate on the same system?
  2. Should the Department, through its regulations or licensing process, ensure that interoperability is included as an aspect of the design of public safety systems?

(23) Should the Department identify common spectrum in the VHF and UHF bands (i.e. common to both Canada and the United States) to be used and shared in border areas for interoperability purposes, recognizing that currently spectrum in the VHF band is not aligned and that spectrum in both the VHF and the UHF bands is highly congested in densely populated areas?

12. Reference Documents

(Listed in the order in which they appear in this document.)

Framework
Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (2002 Revised Edition)
Strategic Directions
Strategic Directions – Spectrum/Telecom Program
International Table
CPC-2-1-17
38 GHz Licensing Process and Application Procedure

13. Call for Comments and Plan for the Revision of Other Departmental Policies and Procedures

Part B of this consultation has been prepared to indicate how the Department plans to address a number of related issues in spectrum management over the next five to seven years. Public comment is invited on the proposals, questions contained herein, as well as any other relevant aspects. The issues included in Part B have been presented in the context of the proposal to revise the Framework which is discussed in detail in Part A.

Future action is dependent on the outcome of this process of public consultation. Nevertheless, the decisions made as a result of this consultation will likely lead to two paths of further action. The first path will be the development of a revised Framework based on the decisions made subsequent to this process of public consultation.

A second path will be the further development and implementation of modified policies and system standards, as well as regulatory and operational procedures. Some of these consultations will take place in parallel with the revision of the Framework. Other consultations on specific policies and standards will follow the review of the issues raised in this consultation. All of these further actions will be subject to public consultation, as appropriate.

Issued under the authority
of the Radiocommunication Act

Larry Shaw
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch

Robert W. McCaughern
Director General
Spectrum Engineering Branch

Jan Skora
Director General
Radiocommunication and Broadcasting
Regulatory Branch



Appendix A — Extract of Core Objectives from 2002 Framework

To promote and support the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunication systems and services to provide economic, social and cultural benefits for Canadians while meeting Canada's sovereignty and security needs. In carrying out this function, the Department will respect the government's Regulatory Policy ensuring that federal government intervention is justified in those instances where regulation is seen as the best alternative and that adverse impacts on the economy are minimized.

To plan and manage the utilization of the spectrum resource in accordance with legislative and public policy objectives and international agreements by the powers conferred by the Radiocommunication Act and, with due regard to the objectives of the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts, through continuing review and improvement of the spectrum management process.

To further improve efficient and optimum use of the spectrum resource through adoption of advanced spectrum allocation, management techniques and licensing processes based on operational requirements and technical and economic viability.

To ensure flexibility and adaptability and ease of access to the spectrum resource in response to technological advances, and economic, social and market factors.

To ensure Canadian interests are protected when harmonizing and coordinating Canada's spectrum policies and utilization with other countries, regional and international organizations and with treaty obligations, including those of the ITU.

To support and promote innovation, research and development in new radiocommunication techniques and spectrum-based services and applications.

To coordinate and establish well balanced national spectrum and radiocommunication policies and plans by widely consulting with all interested parties and the general public.



Appendix B — Extract of Policy Guidelines from 2002 Framework

Policy Guideline 1 — Spectrum Resource Principles

The Department will apply these basic spectrum resource principles as an overall guidance for good planning and management of the radiofrequency spectrum. These principles will be adapted as necessary to meet evolving requirements.

  • Allocation of Bands to Radio Services — Bands of spectrum are allocated in Canada to particular radio services to accommodate radiocommunication systems with compatible coexistence characteristics, serving the largest number of users possible. These domestic allocations are normally a subset of the International Frequency Allocations. The Department will employ flexibility in their application as appropriate.
  • Designation to Usage — To promote efficient and optimal utilization by grouping together systems of similar characteristics, spectrum is designated on the basis of use, rather than type of user. The Department will provide licensees the flexibility to adapt their service offerings to meet demand within the practical limits of the allocation and designation.
  • Interference Mitigation and Frequency Coordination — The effects of interference are minimized or managed to acceptable limits. Coordination is normally required for licensees such as to permit service availability to users in adjacent service areas. The Department encourages the holders of area licences to coordinate amongst themselves.
  • Conformance to Standards and Frequency Plans — Conformance to common standards and frequency plans are normally required to ensure orderly development, to avoid harmful interference and to facilitate operational compatibility of radio systems, both in Canada and in the global market. Coexistence of multiple standards in certain frequency bands may be permitted.
  • Appropriate Use of Spectrum — The need and the appropriateness of use of the spectrum must generally be evident to ensure maximum utilization of resources.
  • Timely Release of Spectrum - The Department's intent is to release spectrum for licensing in a timely manner so that it can be used and produce benefits for all Canadians. The Department will continue to forecast when, and in what situations, additional spectrum and satellite orbital positions will be released. Spectrum will not be withheld, except when specific policy issues advocate it.
  • Orderly Growth of Radiocommunications — The proposed usage of the spectrum must be in harmony with the overall core objectives of spectrum usage in Canada.
  • Fostering of New Technologies and Innovation — The use of emerging technologies and innovation in service offerings which enhances the use of the spectrum resource is encouraged.
  • Application of Economic Principles — Since the publication of the Frameworkin 1992, the Department has increasingly incorporated economic principles and a reliance on market forces in the management of spectrum. Spectrum managers will strive to apply the most appropriate economic principles, as well as, policy, regulatory, technical and operational principles, to maximize the benefits to society through the use of the spectrum resource. They will manage the spectrum in a manner that supports fair competition, using market forces to capture resource rents where they exist and recovering spectrum management costs where such rents do not exist.

Policy Guideline 2 — Spectrum Resource Allocation

The radiofrequency spectrum, as a national public resource, will be allocated and planned to advance public policy objectives, while ensuring a balance between public and private radiocommunication use to benefit Canadians. The reallocation of, and access to, the spectrum resource will be adapted to meet changing user requirements, to provide spectrum that best meets the needs of the user and to facilitate the deployment of new and innovative services.

Policy Guideline 3 — Priority Support Areas

Radiocommunication systems vital to sovereignty and national security, National Defence, law enforcement, public safety and emergency will be granted high priority and support in the access and use of the radiofrequency spectrum.

Policy Guideline 4 — Socio-economic Factors

Socio-economic factors will be an important component in all aspects of spectrum policy and management, particularly within the scope of the Radiocommunication Act, where the Minister may give regard to the policy objectives of the Telecommunications Act.

Policy Guideline 5 — Spectrum Efficiency

Due regard will be given to efficient spectrum use in spectrum policy formulation and spectrum management practices, particularly when market forces do not align with certain important public interests.

Policy Guideline 6 — Spectrum Sharing

Spectrum sharing among various services and users based on appropriately defined criteria and conditions is required in order to satisfy the growing needs for radiofrequency spectrum resources. The Department will continue to promote spectrum sharing while considering the impact on spectrum efficiency and operational requirements of the services.

Policy Guideline 7 — Systems or Services Displacement

The Department will reallocate spectrum only when there is a compelling requirement to do so and will continue to provide reasonable notice to inform users of any conditions or circumstances which could result in displacement of services or systems. There is no liability or responsibility or intent by the Department to financially compensate spectrum users being displaced.

Policy Guideline 8 — Licensing Process

The use of the First-Come, First-Served licensing process will continue where the Department believes spectrum supply is adequate to meet demand or a reasonable accommodation of all applications can be managed.

In situations where there is, or could be, excess spectrum demand relative to supply or there is a need to pursue certain telecommunication policy objectives, a competitive licensing process, using either a comparative selection or auction licensing approach, will be initiated.

The Department will continue to ensure the necessary general policies are in place to effectively respond to evolving public policy objectives in telecommunications and broadcasting, and to protect existing users and services from harmful interference. Furthermore, the Department will continue to authorize radiocommunication system trials and new technology experiments.

As well, once radio systems have been authorized, the Department may ensure that these systems are implemented within a reasonable time and radio frequencies are efficiently utilized. In order to ensure that the radio system is implemented in a timely fashion, the Department may establish as terms and conditions of licence a reasonable period for radio station installation to take place and service to begin.

Policy Guideline 9 - Licence Fees

Licence fees will be based on spectrum management costs where resource rents do not exist. When resource rents do exist, fees will ensure a fair economic return to the public in addition to recovering spectrum management costs.

Policy Guideline 10 — Research and Development

The Department recognizes R&D as necessary for the maintenance and development of the radiocommunication infrastructure and products and services in Canada, and to support a strong Canadian industry. The Department will continue to establish radiocommunication R&D requirements whenever appropriate. These requirements will be developed in consultation with industry prior to licensing.

Policy Guideline 11 — Radiocommunication Standards

Standards and conformity assessment procedures facilitate compatibility and interoperability, avoid interference and promote efficient spectrum management and utilization. The objective is to align Canadian standards and conformity assessment procedures to the greatest extent possible with international standards. Harmonization of radio system standards is an important consideration in this process.

Mandatory standards and conformity assessment procedures should be compatible with international agreements and arrangements to which Canada is a signatory and they should include only those requirements which can be demonstrated to be necessary for good spectrum management.

Policy Guideline 12 — Spectrum Resource Planning

Planning of spectrum resources will continue to be a prime activity of the Department to support the process of allocating adequate spectrum for various existing and new services. The Department will publish on a regular basis a forecast of spectrum resources and associated time frames of making additional spectrum and satellite orbital positions available for the benefit of all Canadians.

The Department will continue to exercise a leadership role in planning and consultation at a national and international level to judiciously plan the spectrum resource.

Policy Guideline 13 — Public Consultation

The Department will continue to use the most modern means to disseminate and collect information and ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to allow interested parties to provide input to the Department on spectrum matters.

Policy Guideline 14 — International

The Department will continue to exercise leadership and commitment to Canadian involvement in regional and international spectrum matters, including those involving national security and economic/market considerations. The marketing of Canadian expertise and products will be done in concert with private industry.

Policy Guideline 15 — New Approaches for Spectrum Policy Development and Spectrum Management

The Department will encourage new approaches to spectrum policy development and spectrum management, and will endeavour to assess these on a continuing basis and implement where warranted.

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