SAB-002-06 — Consultation on Implementation Matters Related to the Band Plan and the Mobile Service for the Band 2500‑2690 MHz

A policy statement published in the Canada Gazette on April 1, 2006, includes a statement that the Department will harmonize the 2500 MHz band plan to be compatible with the US band plan and will consult on implementation matters. The Department expects that this consultation will be released this winter. This consultation will include a discussion of the issues related to setting a firm transition date to allow for nation-wide implementation of the band plan and the mobile service. There may be advantages to having a common transition date for incumbent MCS fixed service and MDS broadcasting service licences. Changes to existing operations could be planned and executed in a coordinated fashion. The Department notes that most MCS and MDS licence terms end in 2011. Given the above, the Department will not consider renewing any broadcasting certificates for any MDS licences beyond 2011 until the next round of consultations clarifies the timing for the implementation of the mobile service and the new band plan. For more information, please refer to the letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) dated September 27, 2006.


Mr. Michel Arpin
Vice-Chairperson Broadcasting
Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N2

Dear Mr. Arpin:

Subject: Spectrum Planning Activities and Auction of Unassigned MDS Broadcasting Spectrum

In a letter to Andrée Wylie, the previous Vice-Chairperson Broadcasting, dated June 20, 2003, we informed the Commission and the industry, that a moratorium was being imposed on the availability of MDS spectrum for areas where MDS broadcasting distribution licences have not been issued. We indicated that we would carry out public consultation on rationalizing the spectrum allocations, adding mobile services and moving to a new harmonized band plan.

The conclusions to our consultation can be found in a policy statement made by the Department of Industry, dated March 30, 2006 (copy attached). Since the release of this statement, Industry Canada officials met with their CRTC counterparts to inform them of the new policy. In the policy statement, the Department indicates that it will auction the unassigned MDS spectrum as soon as possible. The policy states that the spectrum assigned in the auction process may be used by the successful bidder for mobile, fixed or broadcasting services. Should licensees wish to offer broadcasting services, they would do so in accordance with CRTC requirements and any applicable broadcasting certificate.

The policy statement further indicates that the Department will harmonize the band plan to be compatible with the US band plan and will consult on implementation matters. We also encourage existing incumbents, including MDS licensees, to transition to the new band plan as they implement new services.

Spectrum auctions are generally preceded by a public consultation phase where views are sought on a broad range of policy, technical and procedural matters. I expect that this consultation will be released this winter. This consultation will include a discussion of the issues related to setting a firm transition date to allow for nation-wide implementation of the band plan and mobile service.

As the Department will be consulting on implementation matters relating to the band plan, including timing, there may be advantages to having a common transition date for existing MCS and MDS licences. Changes to existing operations could be planned and executed in a coordinated fashion. We note that most MCS and MDS licence terms end in 2011. Given the above, the Department will not consider renewing any broadcasting certificates for any MDS licences beyond 2011 until the next round of consultations clarifies the timing for the implementation of the mobile service and the new band plan.

We will keep you and your staff informed as this file moves forward.

Michael Binder
Assistant Deputy Minister
Spectrum, Information Technologies
and Telecommunications Sector


Annex A 

Notice Number DGTP-002-06 — Policy Provisions for the Band 2500–2690 MHz to Facilitate Future Mobile Service.

A. Intent

The purpose of this notice is to announce the Department's policy on the use of the spectrum in the band 2500–2690 MHz. On November 16, 2001, fixed and mobile services were allocated throughout the band 2500–2690 MHz. At that time, Industry Canada indicated that the use of the mobile service would be subject to the development of appropriate licensing considerations. On April 30, 2004, the Department initiated a public consultation on the use of the band 2500–2690 MHz through Canada Gazette notice DGTP-004-04, that considered the ongoing spectrum planning activities and the licensing approach for all services allocated in the band.

B. Consultation

Comments received indicated that technology is evolving rapidly with the promise of converged fixed and mobile services. There remains some uncertainty on the timing and amount of spectrum required to implement mobile services. Some operators indicated a desire to pursue new wireless opportunities, including mobile, while others were uncertain as to the timing for the implementation of new services. As a result, the Department is not prepared to launch a spectrum re-farming exercise at this time that would require displacement of incumbents and changes to their spectrum assignments. Nonetheless, enabling the mobile service gives effect to the fundamental reallocation of the spectrum made in 2001. There is an overriding policy need to accommodate the introduction of new services, such as mobile and broadband Internet access and to encourage the most efficient use of the spectrum. Consequently, the development of licensing considerations appropriate to the mobile service are important.

C. Conclusion and Decision

In the formulation of this policy, it is recognized that: market demand should play a role in the development of new services for Canadians; mobile spectrum is very valuable; and there are numerous technological advances occurring in the 2500 MHz band. Several interested parties have asked for a flexible licensing approach to allow the implementation of new services. The Department agrees that a flexible approach to the use of the spectrum is desirable as it allows market forces to play a greater role in determining its best use.

The added regulatory flexibility to permit the mobile service, together with the greater spectrum efficiencies associated with mobile technologies and the increased value associated with mobile spectrum, constitute a significant material change. The implementation of the mobile service justifies a re-assessment of the licensing requirements including the amount of spectrum retained by incumbent licensees.

The Department is therefore adopting the following policy provisions:

  1. For Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) in the sub-band 2500–2596 MHz:
    1. Operators may continue to offer broadband Internet access services in accordance with the fixed service definition and in accordance with the 2500 MHz Multipoint Communications Systems Policy and Licensing Procedures of June 1999;
    2. Operators are advised that under the fixed service they cannot offer service to subscriber stations that are intended to be used while in motion. Consequently licensees or their affiliates cannot use the 2500 MHz spectrum to offer for sale and/or provide service to battery operated hand held terminals or provide network mobility features such as handoff between base stations.
  2. For Multipoint Distribution Systems (MDS) in the sub-band 2596–2686 MHz:
    1. Any of the previously allocated MDS broadcasting spectrum in the 2500 MHz band can also be used for fixed telecommunications services. The MDS operators may continue to offer broadcasting distribution services, in accordance with a licence from the CRTC;
    2. Should an existing MDS operator wish to offer fixed broadband Internet access services, they may apply to the Department for a spectrum licence under the fixed service in the band 2596–2686 MHz. Conditions of licence will be applicable and may include terms and conditions of licence similar to current MCS authorizations.
  3. The licensing of mobile service in the 2500 MHz band: 
    1. The un-assigned spectrum in the band 2596–2690 MHz, in a number of areas of Canada, is available for the development of mobile service, as well as for fixed broadband access, in accordance with the new band plan (see section 5). Significant interest has been shown recently by entities to access this prime spectrum to develop new wireless services;
    2. Should an existing MCS or MDS licensee, authorized to operate in the 2500 MHz band, wish to offer mobile services, they may apply to the Department for a new spectrum licence in the mobile service. The Department may issue a new spectrum licence which will include mobile service for approximately two-thirds of the originally authorized spectrum in the 2500 MHz band and one-third will be returned to the Department subject to the following:

      In order to implement mobile service, the Department will adopt a new band plan (see section 5), taking into account the needs of incumbents and other requirements. The spectrum that needs to be returned to the Department from the incumbents in order to be authorized to provide mobile service will be:

      1. the band 2535–2568 MHz (33 MHz), and,
      2. the band 2657–2690 MHz (33 MHz),
      3. the Department will establish additional guidelines in accordance with the policy framework discussed below.
  4. Auction process:

    The Department will initiate a public consultation as soon as possible to establish the policy framework for licensing spectrum permitting mobile in the band using an auction process. The framework will provide the basis for an initial auction of unassigned spectrum plus any spectrum returned by incumbents at that time, and for subsequent auctions of spectrum which becomes available. It is anticipated that this consultation will address, inter alia, competition issues (such as head-start, spectrum cap, roaming and measures for encouraging new entrants) and licence fees.
  5. For the transition to a new band plan:
    1. Consistent with its long-term policy, the Department will harmonize the band plan to be compatible with the U.S. band plan, as appropriate;
    2. Requests by licensees to change their spectrum assignment to the new band plan will be encouraged, and the Department's decisions will be based on relevant considerations, including impact on other licensees, technical and related matters at that time;
    3. The Department reserves the right:
      1. to decide whether to implement a new band plan as contemplated in this policy;
      2. to decide when to adopt and to implement the new band plan; and
      3. to take any action to ensure that the new band plan is implemented and that the incumbents fully conform to the new band plan and this policy, at a date determined by the Department and after due notice; and
    4. The Department will consult the industry on the implementation of the new band plan.

D. Future action

This policy does not bind or prevent the Minister from taking any action in the future under the powers conferred to the Minister under the Radiocommunication Act.

Obtaining Copies

Copies of this notice and documents referred to are available electronically on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Web site.

Official printed copies of Canada Gazette notices can be obtained from the Canada Gazette Web site or by calling the sales counter of Canadian Government Publishing at 819-941-5995 or 1-800-635-7943.

March 30, 2006

 

Larry Shaw
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch
Industry Canada

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