Archived—Industry Canada's response to the public comments received from the consultation announced in Canada Gazette notice no. DGRB-002-06 Spectrum Licence Fees for Broadband Public Safety in the Band 4940-4990 MHz

Industry Canada has carefully considered the comments received in response to Canada Gazette notice no. DGRB-002-06 - Spectrum Licence Fees for Broadband Public Safety in the Band 4940-4990 MHz1 and notes there have been no proposals for modifying the fee for this particular frequency band. There are, however, requests for clarification on how the licensing will be done, and what follows is further precision on those issues.

Licence Term

Both the RCMP and the Government of Ontario provided comments regarding the licence term. The RCMP requested the licence term be extended to 15 years to provide for increased certainty and the Government of Ontario asked whether a licensee would be obligated to hold the licence for the full 10 years.

With regard to the request to extend the licence to 15 years, the Department notes that the 10-year term is consistent with other long-term spectrum licences. The intent of having a 10-year licence term is to reduce the administrative burden associated with an annual licence and to demonstrate that this band will be dedicated to broadband public safety communications for the long-term. Consistent with Client Procedures Circular 2-1-23, Licensing Procedure for Spectrum Licences for Terrestrial Services (CPC-2-1-23), a spectrum licence will generally be renewed for a term of up to 10 years provided that the licensee is compliant with the conditions of licence and in taking into account developments that may cause the Department to consider a change to the band. Should such a situation arise, the Department would consult with stakeholders at least 2 years prior to the end of the licence term.

Concerning the question raised by the Government of Ontario, spectrum licence fees are to be paid on an annual basis, due on March  31st of each year. Licensees may cancel the licence at any time prior to the end of the term, in which case the licensee will not be invoiced for any further annual licence fee payments.

A major advantage of a 10-year term is that the licensee need submit only one application for its entire system during this 10-year period. Unlike the traditional radio licensing approach, the licensee is able to deploy, modify and expand its network during this term without additional regulatory approvals by the Department. This reduces the burden on both the licensee and the Department. It results in a less costly and less intrusive regulatory instrument while meeting the Department's policy objectives for the 4940-4990 MHz radio frequency spectrum band. This is consistent with the government's commitment under the Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative and Smart Regulation to reduce the regulatory burden on Canadians.

Further General Comments on Fees

The Department notes that no suggestions were provided for an alternate fee for the band 4940-4990 MHz. General comments were provided, and the Department agrees with the observations put forward regarding the appropriateness of comparing fees for shared versus non-shared spectrum. The Department confirms that the fact that this spectrum will be licensed on a shared basis, is a key reason why the proposed fee is comparatively low to fees for other bands and services.

Industry Canada believes that the proposed fee provides a reasonable assessment of the economic value for this spectrum and will encourage its efficient use. Furthermore, under the Radiocommunication Act all users, including governments, are required to pay licence fees on the same basis as other users of spectrum. This came into effect in March 1987 with the passing of Bill C-3, a bill to amend the Radio Act, through which Parliament eliminated the preferential licence fees granted to users of the spectrum in the federal, provincial and municipal governments, including public safety entities.

With the publication of this notice, the Department will be moving forward with the tabling of the fee proposal before the House of Commons and the Senate as required under the User Fees Act.

For any questions regarding this fee or the process, please contact Heather Hall, Manager, Emerging Networks at 613-990-4411.

December 19, 2006

_________________________
Jan Skora
Director General
Radiocommunications and
Broadcasting Regulatory Branch


Footnote

1 The consultation, Canada Gazette notice and the comments received can be viewed on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Web site at:  http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf08544.html.

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