Archived—Revisions to Allocations in the Band 2500-2690 MHz and Consultation on Spectrum Utilization

4. Background on Service Implementation

The band 2500-2690 MHz was re-arranged in 1985 based on the interest and potential opportunities which were identified at that time. Approximately half of the spectrum was identified for use by telecommunications networks (MCS) and the other half for wireless broadcasting distribution (MDS).

During the first few years, there was limited implementation of MCS and MDS systems. However, in the mid 1990s there was considerable interest in developing this spectrum due to the opening of competition in broadcasting distribution and telecommunications, the technological developments in digital microwave equipment, advancements in video compression technology, the commercialization of the Internet, and demand for high-speed Internet access. With the introduction of competition to cable TV in the 1990s, MDS became one of the first broadcasting distribution alternatives followed by other networks such as Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite broadcasting. Today, with the prospect of second generation digital microwave equipment employing non-line-of-sight technologies, integrated antennas, the ability to offer integrated Internet access, simplified installation and reduced costs, there are renewed opportunities to provide services using this spectrum.

4.1 Current MDS Broadcasting Service Licensing (2596-2686 MHz)

In 1994, a number of communities in Southern Manitoba were granted MDS Broadcast Distribution Undertaking (BDU) licences. Licensing processes followed in Saskatchewan, Southern/Eastern Ontario, Southern Quebec and the lower mainland of BC. The map in Figure A shows the general areas where the band 2596-2686 MHz is assigned for MDS broadcasting operations and the remaining areas where the spectrum is unused.

As part of its broadcasting licence obligations, MDS operators must offer specific approved programming packages, meet regulatory requirements and adhere to conditions of licence such as service implementation.

The technical requirements of the broadcasting service in the band 2596-2686 MHz are outlined in the Broadcast Procedures and Rules Part 6, Application Procedures and Rules for Multipoint Distribution Television Broadcasting Undertakings (MDS-TV) (BPR, Part 6) which is available on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Web site at http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum. Where MDS operators, using the spectrum under the broadcasting allocation, have excess capacity, they may be permitted to offer non-broadcasting services. Operators of radiocommunication services who use excess spectrum capacity must be authorized by Industry Canada under the Radiocommunication Act and Radiocommunication Regulations and therefore a licence fee applies. A condition of this licence is that spectrum must be available to meet their current broadcasting obligations.

Canadian MDS operators have requested that Industry Canada and the CRTC grant increased flexibility to allow for the use of more MDS broadcast spectrum for high-speed Internet access.

4.2 Current MCS Fixed Service Licensing (2500-2596 MHz)

In 1995, after a public process, Industry Canada issued licences to a number of school boards in Manitoba for the carriage of distance education and MCS channels were licensed in Manitoba for Instructional Television (ITV). In 1999, the Department launched a competitive licensing process for MCS systems in the band 2500-2596 MHz to provide a range of local telecommunications distribution services across Canada, with the exclusion of Manitoba. On March 24, 2000, the Department announced the successful applicants of the MCS spectrum licenses for the remainder of Canada.

In the 2500 MHz Policy and Licensing Procedures Footnote 2, MCS is described as a fixed two-way radio system in which a main hub radio station communicates with different subscribers or response stations at many locations within a given area. Depending on equipment capability and bandwidth availability, MCS can distribute a wide range of service offerings. In addition, the Department indicated that it would not restrict the services which would be offered in this band, subject to the fixed allocation and technical limitations, allowing licensees flexibility to react to market conditions and technical advances as they occur.

Following the 2000 World Radiocommunication Conference, there was concern that MCS/MDS would be affected by the future use of 3G in the band and the future of the licensees was considered to be uncertain. The Department undertook an assessment of the situation and in November 2001, the Minister indicated that the fixed and mobile services would be allocated throughout the band 2500-2690 MHz, that incumbent licensees would be able to implement their current business plans in accordance with the terms and conditions of their licences and that Industry Canada would consult on licensing considerations. This decision provided the licensees with an increased level of assurance allowing them to move forward with the delivery of broadband services to Canadians through the implementation of wireless systems.

4.3 Recent Developments in the US

It is important to note several North American developments and in particular those in the United States due to the integrated nature of North American telecommunications networks.

In the United States there are approximately 2500 Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Services (MMDS) licensees and 1275 Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) licensees. However, 4 licensees in the US have licences which cover 80 percent of the population. The US is currently using a channelling plan where the high-power stations are interleaved throughout the band with low-power stations. The current FCC rules accommodate high-power MDS/ITFS which render the deployment of low-power operations difficult due to the large protection distances required for the high-powered stations. The FCC believes that their current rules prevent the efficient use of the spectrum.

On September 24, 2001 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that fixed incumbents (Instructional Television Fixed Service and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service licensees) would not be relocated from the 2500-2690 MHz band and that the mobile service would be allocated on a co-primary basis with the fixed service.Footnote 3 The new allocation in the US allows certain portable data applications under the existing service rules and provides flexibility for introducing other advanced fixed and mobile applications.

Then, on April 2, 2003, following a request by several licensees, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)Footnote 4 requesting comments into the possibility of re-channelling the band 2500-2696 MHz and to modify their rules. According to the FCC, the proposed rule changes are intended to facilitate the provision of high-speed data and voice services accessible to mobile as well as fixed users on channels that today are used primarily for one-way video operations. The re-channelization would facilitate the development of sharing rules between the high-power and relatively low-power cellular operations including mobile services. Finalization of this docket is expected sometime in 2004.

4.4 Return Spectrum and Promoting New Technologies

Another issue under consideration in Canada and the US is the need for return spectrum for two-way services. Currently MCS and MDS operators are permitted to use the 2150-2160 MHz band for return spectrum. In Gazette Notice DGTP-007-03, Consultation on Spectrum for Advanced Wireless Services and Review of the Mobile Spectrum Cap Policy, the Department proposed that 1710-1755 MHz paired with 2110-2155 MHz spectrum be made available for Advanced Wireless Services. This would displace at least half of the MCS/MDS return spectrum. Some operators have been asking the Department for suitable alternate return spectrum.

In addition, some operators are asking for symmetric forward and return channels. This raises the issue as to whether low-power symmetric operations would best be accommodated within the 2500-2690 MHz band. Considering the mix of technologies envisaged in the band and the flexibility required going forward, this may require that a channelling plan be developed which can accommodate both paired and unpaired channels so that operators may select the technology that best suits their needs. It may be possible to develop a frequency plan to allow for both paired and unpaired channels which would also be technology neutral and allow for greater flexibility in the future.

When considering the frequency arrangements, key issues include frequency coordination along the border areas, economies of scale based on availability of equipment, roaming and global or regional harmonization.

4.5 Alternate Frequency Arrangements

In view of the above, the Department is considering alternate frequency arrangements. If the incumbents current business plans can be accommodated within a new frequency channelling plan, the Department may consider redistributing spectrum between MCS and MDS operators. The redistribution should create a frequency plan that is harmonized within North America, would accommodate low-power and high-power operations and provide the operators with the option of using equipment for paired or unpaired channel plans.

Comments on Channelling Plans

Comments are invited on the possible re-channelization plan that could accommodate existing operation, high-power and low-power stations and both paired and unpaired band plans.

5. Prospective Use of the 2500 MHz Band for Mobile Services

A number of frequency bands were identified at World Radiocommunication Conferences for use by Administrations wishing to implement IMT-2000, also known as 3G. The bands identified for IMT-2000 are 806-960 MHz, 1710-1885 MHz, 1885-2025 MHz, 2110-2200 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz. Administrations have complete flexibility to implement IMT-2000 in the frequency bands most appropriate for their needs.

Industry Canada released a consultation paper on October 10, 2003 entitled Consultation on Spectrum for Advanced Wireless Services and Review of the Mobile Spectrum Cap Policy for the proposed use of the bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz (45 MHz paired with 45 MHz) and other smaller spectrum segments. Canada has previously indicated that it would be licensing the 1710 MHz and 2110 MHz spectrum in the 2005/2006 time frame thereby permitting similar services in Canada and the US.

In Europe, additional mobile spectrum is forecasted to be required in the 2008-2010 time frame. The European Commission has mandated the Conference of European Post and Telegraph (CEPT) to develop detailed spectrum arrangements for the 2500-2690 MHz spectrum. It aims to harmonize the frequency range 2500-2690 MHz for IMT-2000/UMTS systems in Europe in 2004.

Discussions are ongoing in the various Study Groups under the ITU-R regarding the use of the 2500 MHz band for IMT-2000. Various channelling plans are being considered within the band 2500-2690 MHz to provide for the introduction of IMT-2000 in parallel with the activities in North America as previously in Section 4.3.

In yet another development, the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is also studying standards for mobile broadband wireless access systems in frequency bands below 3.5 GHz. The development of standards by the IEEE 802.20 working group may result in yet greater use of this spectrum as the 2.5 GHz band is considered a candidate band for IEEE 802.20 compliant systems.

Considering the proposed licensing of AWS in the 1710 and 2110 MHz bands, and the availability of other frequency bands for mobile telephony services, it is possible that the demand for the 2500 MHz band by mobile services in Canada could be predominantly in areas of high spectrum use (i.e. major urban centres). Another possibility is that the 2500 MHz band would be used for specialized fixed and mobile broadband wireless access applications using high data rates including multi-media applications.

As described earlier, a number of MCS systems have been recently licensed for fixed service and the licensees are expected to roll out services according to their business plans. Insofar as the need to accommodate portable data applications, the Canadian Radiocommunication Regulations permit the use of portable stations within the fixed service. In addition, the existing policy for MCS encourages the development of innovative wireless access applications.

If interested parties, including the existing MCS and MDS licensees, were to request the implementation of mobile services, a separate public consultation would be initiated to determine the licensing considerations.

A number of spectrum planning activities and new technologies are emerging that could provide greater opportunities in the future to develop wireless facilities and provide new service offerings to businesses and consumers. The Department seeks views from existing licensees and other interested parties on how greater flexibility within the new frequency allocations could be afforded to better serve the public interest.

Use of the 2500 MHz Band in Canada

The Department invites comments on the long-term use of the band 2500-2690 MHz in Canada considering the new frequency allocations (i.e. mobile and fixed services).

6. Unassigned MDS Spectrum in the band 2596-2686 MHz

The MDS broadcasting spectrum in the 2596-2686 MHz band was allocated to the broadcasting service in 1985. Figure A shows the general areas where MDS broadcast distribution undertaking licences have been granted by the CRTC and their relative occupation of the spectrum. The unassigned spectrum is generally available in the Atlantic Provinces, Alberta and most of northern Canada.

As a result of the changes being made internationally and in particular in the US, and given that this spectrum was designated in 1985 and remains un-used, the Department would like to assess the changing needs and provide this spectrum for the best use and benefit to Canadians. In June 2003, the Department instituted a moratorium on the availability of MDS spectrum in the band 2596-2686 MHz for regions of Canada where MDS broadcasting distribution licences have not been granted. This moratorium is expected to be in force for 18 to 24 months providing sufficient time to carry out spectrum planning through this public consultation process.

In considering the various options for the unassigned 2500 MHz band spectrum, the Department would consider the possible re-channelization that may occur in the band. Since there are currently no incumbents, the Department would also consider whether it is appropriate to license this spectrum at this time. The Department would consider allowing a large amount of spectrum over a wide geographical area to remain unassigned for a period of time in order to establish more clarity on the technology, service and public interest.

Spectrum Currently not Assigned

Comments are invited on the best use of the spectrum in the band 2596-2686 MHz for regions of Canada where this spectrum is unassigned.

7. Internet Access Using MDS Broadcasting Spectrum

A number of MDS broadcasting distribution operators began offering services in the mid 1990s and have invested significant resources to build digital MDS broadcasting systems. Some MDS licensees in the band 2596-2686 MHz have expressed to both the Department and the CRTC an interest in having more spectrum available to provide wireless high-speed Internet access.

The MDS operators have indicated that the complementary offering of high-speed Internet service is an important component of their service offerings. This is facilitated in large part because many components of their digital transmission equipment can be used for both video distribution and Internet access.

The Department has issued radiocommunication authorizations for MDS spectrum used to provide non-broadcasting services under the Radiocommunication Act using the licence fees applicable to these types of radiocommunication services. As previously described, MDS operators may be permitted to offer non-broadcasting services using excess capacity and these radio licenses for non-broadcasting services are issued with the condition that the spectrum would continue to be available for broadcasting distribution to meet broadcasting obligations. The operators have indicated that Internet access is a significant part of their business and highly valued by their customers. Consequently, the Internet access services should be treated equally by removing the regulatory uncertainty created by the current conditions of licence.

During the course of renewing their licences with the CRTC, the MDS operators requested among other things, a reduction in their program carriage obligations which, if granted, would allow the operators to increase the amount of spectrum used for Internet access services. Also, MDSoperators are undergoing trials of new video compression technologies for the delivery of their broadcasting services which could result in further spectrum capacity being made available for Internet access.

Regardless of the means by which excess capacity is obtained, the result is that significant spectrum capacity may be available for Internet access. The amount of spectrum used for Internet access could potentially become greater than the spectrum used for broadcast distribution.

Proposal:

Considering that MDS operators have requested flexibility to offer both broadcasting as well as more Internet services, and that the Department aims to, foster innovation, encourage a diversity of services, promote the best and most valued use of the spectrum and allow operators to react to market demand, the Department proposes to:

  1. allow MDS operators, already providing broadcasting distribution services, the use of up to 50 percent of the MDS spectrum for non-broadcasting services; and
  2. allow MDS operators flexibility to offer a range of services in this spectrum under the fixed service allocation by removing conditions of licence which make Internet access services secondary in this band; and
  3. if the broadcasting distribution service was to be discontinued, the licensee would be permitted to continue operation of the non-broadcast services, as proposed in section (i) above.

Internet Access by MDS Operators

Comments are invited on the proposal to allow MDS operators, already providing broadcasting distribution services, the use of up to 50 percent of the MDS spectrum for non-broadcasting services and to allow MDS operators the flexibility to offer a range of services in this spectrum under the fixed allocation by removing conditions of licence which make Internet access services secondary in this band.

8. Conclusions

Based on the results of this public consultation and on the footnotes proposed, a revised Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations will be announced.

Public comments on these spectrum utilization issues will identify the public interest aspects of various wireless services. This information will be useful to the Department in dealing with a range of emerging issues with existing and potential future use of the spectrum.

Issued under the authority
of the Radiocommunication Act

Larry Shaw
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch

Figure A - General MDS Coverage in Canada

Image: MDS coverage in Canada

Note: This map is not indicative of the actual coverage of the stations and is intended as a general overview showing a centre coordinate for the stations authorized and an 80 Km radius. Actual coverage and protection zones may vary.


Annex B - Complete Text of Footnotes

5.149 In making assignments to stations of other services to which the bands:

13 360-13 410 kHz,
4 990-5 000 MHz,
94.1-100 GHz,
25 550-25 670 kHz,
6 650-6 675,2 MHz,
102-109.5 GHz,
37.5-38.25 MHz,
10.6-10.68 GHz,
111.8-114.25 GHz,
73-74.6 MHz in Regions 1 and 3,
14.47-14.5 GHz,
128.33-128.59 GHz,
150.05-153 MHz in Region 1,
22.01-22.21 GHz,
129.23-129.49 GHz,
322-328,6 MHz,
22.21-22.5 GHz,
130-134 GHz,
406.1-410 MHz,
22.81-22.86 GHz,
136-148.5 GHz,
608-614 MHz in Regions 1 and 3,
23.07-23.12 GHz,
151.5-158.5 GHz,
1 330-1 400 MHz,
31.2-31.3 GHz,
168.59-168.93 GHz,
1 610.6-1 613.8 MHz,
31.5-31.8 GHz in Regions 1 and 3,
171.11-171.45 GHz,
1 660-1 670 MHz,
36.43-36.5 GHz,
172.31-172.65 GHz,
1 718.8-1 722.2 MHz,
42.5-43.5 GHz,
173.52-173.85 GHz,
2 655-2 690 MHz,
42.77-42.87 GHz,
195.75-196.15 GHz,
3 260-3 267 MHz,
43.07-43.17 GHz,
209-226 GHz,
3 332-3 339 MHz,
43.37-43.47 GHz,
241-250 GHz,
3 345.8-3 352.5 MHz,
48.94-49.04 GHz,
252-275 GHz
4 825-4 835 MHz,
76-86 GHz,
 
4 950-4 990 MHz,
92-94 GHz,
 

are allocated, administrations are urged to take all practicable steps to protect the radio astronomy service from harmful interference. Emissions from space borne or airborne stations can be particularly serious sources of interference to the radio astronomy service (see Nos. 4.5 and 4.6 and Article 29). (WRC-2000)

5.417A
(Previously 5.418bis)

In applying provision No. 5.418, in Korea (Rep. of) and Japan, resolves 3 of Resolution 528 (Rev.WRC-03) is relaxed to allow the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) and the complementary terrestrial broadcasting service to additionally operate on a primary basis in the band 2 605-2 630 MHz. This use is limited to systems intended for national coverage. An administration listed in this provision shall not have simultaneously two overlapping frequency assignments, one under this provision and the other under No. 5.416. The provisions of No. 5.416 and Table 21-4 of Article 21 do not apply. Use of non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) in the band 2 605-2 630 MHz is subject to the provisions of Resolution 539 (Rev.WRC-03). The power flux-density at the Earth's surface produced by emissions from a geostationary broadcasting-satellite service (sound) space station operating in the band 2 605-2 630 MHz for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 4 July 2003, for all conditions and for all methods of modulation, shall not exceed the following limits:

–130 dB (W/(m2 ·MHz)) for 0° < θ ≤ 5°

–130 +0.4 (θ – 5) dB(W /(m2·MHz)) for 5° < θ ≤ 25°

–122 dB(W/(m2 ·MHz)) for 25° < θ ≤ 90°

where θ is the angle of arrival of the incident wave above the horizontal plane, in degrees. These limits may be exceeded on the territory of any country whose administration has so agreed. In the case of the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) networks of Korea (Rep. of), as an exception to the limits above, the pfd value of -122 dB(W/(m2 · MHz)) shall be used as a threshold for coordination under No. 9.11 in an area of 1 000 km around the territory of the administration notifying the BSS (sound) system, for angles of arrival greater than 35 degrees. (WRC-03)

5.417B
(Previously 5.418Abis)

In Korea (Rep. of) and Japan, use of the band 2 605-2 630 MHz by non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound), pursuant to No. 5.417A, for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 4 July 2003, is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.12A, in respect of geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, is considered to have been received after 4 July 2003, and No. 22.2 does not apply. No. 22.2 shall continue to apply with respect to geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, is considered to have been received before 5 July 2003. (WRC-03)

5.417C
(Previously 5.418Bbis)

Use of the band 2 605-2 630 MHz by non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound), pursuant to No. 5.417A, for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 4 July 2003, is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.12. (WRC-03)

5.417D
(Previously 5.418Cbis)

Use of the band 2 605-2 630 MHz by geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 4 July 2003 is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.13 with respect to non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound), pursuant to No. 5.417A, and No. 22.2 does not apply. (WRC-03)

5.418

Additional allocation:  in Korea (Rep. of), India, Japan, Pakistan and Thailand, the band 2 535-2 655 MHz is also allocated to the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) and complementary terrestrial broadcasting service on a primary basis. Such use is limited to digital audio broadcasting and is subject to the provisions of Resolution 528 (Rev. WRC-03). The provisions of No. 5.416 and Table 21-4 of Article 21, do not apply to this additional allocation. Use of non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) is subject to Resolution 539 (Rev.WRC-03). Geostationary BSS (sound) systems for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information has been received after 1 June 2005 are limited to systems intended for national coverage. The power flux-density at the Earth's surface produced by emissions from a geostationary broadcasting-satellite service (sound) space station operating in the band 2 630-2 655 MHz, and for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information has been received after 1 June 2005, shall not exceed the following limits, for all conditions and for all methods of modulation:

–130 dB(W/(m2 ·MHz)) for 0° ≤ θ ≤ 5°

–130 0.4 (θ – 5) dB (W /(m2 ·MHz)) for 5° <θ ≤ 25°

–122 dB (W/(m2 ·MHz)) for 25° < θ ≤ 90°

where θ is the angle of arrival of the incident wave above the horizontal plane, in degrees. These limits may be exceeded on the territory of any country whose administration has so agreed. As an exception to the limits above, the pfd value of -122 dB (W/(m2  MHz)) shall be used as a threshold for coordination under No. 9.11 in an area of 1 500 km around the territory of the administration notifying the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) system. In addition, the pfd value shall not exceed -100 dB (W/(m2 MHz)) anywhere on the territory of the Russian Federation.

In addition, an administration listed in this provision shall not have simultaneously two overlapping frequency assignments, one under this provision and the other under No. 5.416 for systems for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information has been received after 1 June 2005. (WRC-03)

5.418A
In certain Region 3 countries listed in No. 5.418, use of the band 2 630-2 655 MHz by non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound) for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 2 June 2000, is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.12A, in respect of geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, is considered to have been received after 2 June 2000, and No. 22.2 does not apply. No. 22.2 shall continue to apply with respect to geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, is considered to have been received before 3 June 2000. (WRC-03)
5.418B
Use of the band 2 630-2 655 MHz by non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound), pursuant to No. 5.418, for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 2 June 2000, is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.12. (WRC-03)
5.418C
Use of the band 2 630-2 655 MHz by geostationary-satellite networks for which complete Appendix 4 coordination information, or notification information, has been received after 2 June 2000 is subject to the application of the provisions of No. 9.13 with respect to non-geostationary-satellite systems in the broadcasting-satellite service (sound), pursuant to No. 5.418 and No. 22.2 does not apply. (WRC-03)

Annex C - Excerpt from Article 21 Table 21-4

Table 21-4 (WRC-2000)

9 21.16.3 These power flux-density values are derived on the basis of protecting the fixed service using line-of-sight techniques. Where a fixed service using tropospheric scatter operates in the bands listed in the first column and there is insufficient frequency separation, there must be sufficient angular separation between the direction to the space station and the direction of maximum radiation of the antenna of the receiving station of the fixed service using tropospheric scatter, in order to ensure that the interference power at the receiver input of the fixed-service station does not exceed -168 dBW in any 4 kHz band.

Frequency band Service Limit in dB (W/m2) for angle of arrival (δ) above the horizontal plane Reference bandwidth
0°-5 5°-25° 25°-90°
2 500-2 690 MHz
2 520-2 670 MHz
2 500-2 516.5 MHz
(No. 5.404)
Fixed-satellite
Broadcasting-satellite
Radiodetermination-satellite
-152 9 -152 + 0.75(δ - 5)9  -1379 4 kHz

Footnotes

  1. back to footnote reference 2 2500 MHzMultipoint Communications Systems Policy and Licensing Procedures, June 1999
  2. back to footnote reference 3 First Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order - FCC 01-256
  3. back to footnote reference 4 Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Memorandum Opinion and Order FCC 03-56
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