Consultation on a Framework to Auction Spectrum in the 2 GHz Range including Advanced Wireless Services

February 2007

Contents


Intent

This paper initiates consultation on a framework for the competitive licensing of spectrum as announced in the Canada Gazette DGTP-002-07. Part I makes allocation changes to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations for bands in the 1710-2200 MHz range, designates spectrum for Advanced Wireless Services (AWS), expands the 1900 MHz PCS licensed-bands and finalizes the allocation changes for the band 1670-1675 MHz as proposed in DGTP-004-05. Part II of this paper initiates consultation on a framework for the competitive licensing of this spectrum. The Annexes provide further detailed information related to Parts I and II.

The industry and the Department have been developing plans to identify mobile spectrum for AWS so as to keep the Canadian wireless infrastructure in step with developments in North America and Europe. The development and use of world class information and communication technologies and services will further enable Canadians to fully participate in the new economy. This spectrum may be used for a wide range of service applications such as cellular telephony, data, multimedia and Internet Protocol (IP)-based applications and broadband access, which may use third-generation (3G) cellular and other advanced technologies.

This paper also outlines a transition process to make the spectrum available for AWS, when and where required. In addition it addresses additional spectrum utilization issues, eligibility to access spectrum, competition, band plans, technical and operational considerations, the licensing process, and principles and proposed auction rules.

The Department anticipates that based on this public consultation process and other considerations, a framework will be developed to make the new resources available in a fair, open and transparent fashion. The policy and licensing procedures will be released later in 2007.

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Background

In October 2003, Industry Canada released a consultation paper entitled Consultation on Spectrum for Advanced Wireless Services and Review of the Mobile Spectrum Cap Policy (DGTP-007-03). The paper initiated the public consultation to open new spectrum in the 1710-2200 MHz range for AWS, with high mobility service capability as a main component. There was also a proposal made to expand the existing licensed PCS bands.

Among the general matters raised for public comment were:

  • proposed changes to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations for several bands;
  • proposals for spectrum utilization policies;
  • transition policies for dealing with incumbents;
  • a review of the mobile spectrum cap policy; and
  • measures to promote advanced mobile telephony services in rural Canada.

Thirteen responses were received from interested parties and posted on the Department's website. The public submissions were given careful consideration. The decision was made to rescind the mobile spectrum cap policy Footnote 1. In addition, a new policy was promulgated aimed at encouraging digital roaming for rural cellular operators in particular circumstances Footnote 2.

In 2005, Industry Canada released the notice DGTP-004-05 entitled Proposals and Changes to the Spectrum in Certain Bands Below 1.7 GHz, in which the Department invited comments on designating the band 1670-1675 MHz for flexible use for wireless access within the fixed and mobile service allocations. This current paper sets out the provisions for the designation of the band 1670-1675 MHz and initiates consultation on its licensing framework.

All of the frequency ranges addressed in this proceeding, with the exception of 1670-1675 MHz, have been identified internationally for what is known as International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) applications which are focused on high mobility services. This international identification does not preclude the use of these bands by other primary services. The Department recognizes the benefits of economies of scale for consumer products, which are achievable with international harmonization. Respondents to the AWS consultation paper expressed that it will be important for Canada to harmonize its spectrum usage and technical requirements with the international community and especially with the United States.

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Part I: Provisions for the Allocation and Utilization of the Various Bands to be Auctioned

1. Changes to the Canadian Table in the Frequency Ranges 1710-2200 MHz and 1670-1675 MHz

The Department is making a number of changes to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (herein refer to as the Canadian Table) to reflect, in part, the international decisions taken at World Radiocommunication Conference 2000 (WRC-2000) and World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03) to provide flexibility for administrations to designate spectrum for IMT applications. The changes will also address the evolution of spectrum resources for mobile and mobile-satellite services in North America and allow for planning of new spectrum for access including AWS. Frequency allocations are a first and important step in developing spectrum utilization policies which foster the implementation of new radiocommunication services. These modifications to the Canadian Table are intended to reflect the public interest in introducing important wireless services which will benefit Canadians and respond to the marketplace.

The specific bands consulted on included 1710-1755 MHz paired with 2110-2155 MHz which would provide 90 MHz of wireless access spectrum for AWS. Also included were changes to portions of the bands 1850-1990 MHz, 1990-2025 MHz, 2160-2200 MHz and 2155-2160 MHz within the mobile and fixed service allocations. The Department also sought comments on frequency bands from 1755 MHz to 1850 MHz and from 2160-2200 MHz. The band 1670-1675 MHz was discussed in the consultation paper Proposals and Changes to the Spectrum in Certain Bands Below 1.7 GHz published in 2005. Most of the comments received suggested that for subscriber-based services to achieve economies of scale and to facilitate roaming, Canada should harmonize with the United States. The policy provisions adopted through this proceeding are consistent with North American developments and address the comments received during the various consultations.

1.1 Discussion of the Changes to the Canadian Table in the Frequency Ranges 1710-1850 MHz and 2110-2200 MHz

1.1.1 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Bands 1710-1770 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz

Table of Allocations

In October 2003, the Department consulted on several proposed changes to the Canadian Table in the bands 1710-1850 MHz and 2110-2180 MHz with the view to allocate new spectrum for wireless access including high mobility applications. These changes included the raising of the mobile service to a primary allocation, removal of the footnote which limits mobile use to the Government of Canada, incorporation of new and modified international footnotes, and the addition of domestic footnotes to facilitate the transition to the new AWS systems. In general, all the responses received to the consultation supported the allocation changes to the Canadian Table for the 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands.

As a result, the Department is changing the spectrum policy and is modifying allocations to enable wireless access applications, including high mobility applications. This is consistent with the position taken by the Canadian government and industry in preparation for WRC-03.

1.1.2 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Band 1710-1850 MHz

The Department is making the following changes to the Canadian Table in the band 1710-1850 MHz as described below and as shown in Annex 3:

  • Splitting of the band 1710-1850 MHz into two new bands: 1710-1755 MHz and 1755-1850 MHz;
  • Raising of mobile service to a primary allocation in the band 1710-1755 MHz;
  • Incorporation of international footnote 5.384A, which identifies the band for the implementation of IMT 2000;
  • Removal of the reference to international footnote 5.385 from the band 1755-1850 MHz as it doesn't apply to this portion of the band;
  • Removal of the reference to Canadian footnotes C5 and C33 from the band 1710-1755 MHz as they no longer apply to this portion of the band;
  • Addition of a new Canadian footnote C37 in the band 1755-1780 MHz and in other bands, regarding the possible designation for AWS, subject to a future public consultation.

1.1.3 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Band 2110-2180 MHz

The Department is making the following changes to the Canadian Table in the band 2110-2180 MHz as described below and as shown in Annex 3:

  • Splitting of the band 2120-2165 MHz into two new bands: the band 2120-2155 MHz; and the band 2155-2165 MHz, which will be incorporated in the extended band 2155-2180 MHz;
  • Suppression of Canadian footnote C35A as it is no longer needed;
  • Incorporation of international footnote 5.388, which identifies the band 2110-2160 MHz for the implementation of IMT-2000;
  • Addition of a new Canadian footnote C37 addressing the possible future designation of 2155-2180 MHz for AWS subject to a future spectrum utilization policy;
  • Suppression of the mobile-satellite service (MSS) allocation in the band 2160-2180 MHz.

1.1.4 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Bands 1850-1990 MHz, 1990-2025 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz

Summary of the Consultation

In the 2003 consultation on AWS, the Department invited comments on proposed changes to the Canadian Table with respect to portions of the bands 1850-1990 MHz, 1990-2025 MHz and 2160-2200 MHz. This was done with the view to allocate new spectrum for high mobility service applications and to align commercial spectrum, such as the extension of the PCS bands and the harmonization of the mobile satellite bands, on a North American basis.

A first element of the proposal in the band 1850-1990 MHz, was to add international footnotes pertaining to IMT-2000 and a new Canadian footnote addressing potential designation changes to the band 1910-1920 MHz to support licensed PCS subject to a spectrum utilization policy. Comments received supported the incorporation of the international IMT-2000 footnotes but cautioned on the adoption of the Canadian footnote to achieve continental harmonization, given that a decision has yet to be made by the U.S. on this frequency range.

In the bands 1990-2025 MHz and 2160-2200 MHz, the Department proposed changes with a view to establish harmonized spectrum for North American mobile-satellite services and terrestrial wireless services. This included reducing the mobile satellite spectrum from 35+40 MHz to 20+20 MHz in the bands 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz.

Comments were received in support of continental harmonization.

Provisions Related to the Bands

With regard to mobile satellite interests in Canada, the Department has already informed interested parties of its plan to re-allocate some spectrum to the terrestrial mobile service and has informed mobile satellite licensees and applicants in the 2 GHz range of its intention to limit mobile satellite to the revised bands 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz. Changes to the allocations are made to the bands 1990-2000 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz and 2160-2180 MHz to accommodate mobile and fixed services, subject to spectrum utilization policies.

In addition, since the launch of the previous public consultation, the Department has proceeded in making more flexible accommodation for a wider range of licence-exempt PCS (LE-PCS) devices and applications in the band 1920-1930 MHz.

With the anticipation of the use of band 1910-1920 MHz for licensed PCS, a moratorium on the certification and distribution of LE-PCS devices in this band was announced in Spectrum Advisory Bulletin SAB-001-05 Footnote 3. These policy provisions aimed at harmonizing use of this spectrum in North America.

1.1.5 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Bands 1850-1990 MHz and 1990-2025 MHz

The Department is making the following changes to the Canadian Table in the bands 1850-1990 MHz and 1990-2025 MHz as described below and as shown in Annex 3:

  • Rearrangement of the bands 1990-2010 MHz and 2010-2025 into three new bands 1990-2000 MHz, 2000-2020 MHz and 2020-2025 MHz;
  • Suppression of the mobile-satellite service allocation in the bands 1990-2000 MHz and 2020-2025 MHz;
  • Modification of Canadian footnote C36 to reflect the new bands for mobile-satellite service;
  • Removal of Canadian footnote C36 from the bands 1990-2000 MHz and 2020-2025 MHz as it no longer applies to these bands;
  • Removal of international footnote 5.351A from the band 1990-2000 MHz as it no longer applies to this band;
  • Addition of new Canadian footnote C37 to the band 2020-2025 MHz regarding the possible designation of AWS in this band, subject to a future consultation.
  • Incorporation of international footnotes 5.384A to the band 1850-1885 MHz and 5.388A to the band 1885-1980 MHz, which identify these bands for the implementation of IMT-2000;
  • Incorporation of revised international footnote 5.351A for the mobile-satellite service in the band 2000-2010 MHz since it pertains to MSS allocations.

1.1.6 Changes to the Canadian Table in Band 2180-2200 MHz

The Department is making the following changes to the Canadian Table in the band 2180-2200 MHz as described below and as shown in Annex 3:

  • Reduction of the MSS band from 2165-2200 MHz to 2180-2200 MHz;
  • Incorporation of revised international footnote 5.351A for the mobile-satellite service in the band 2180-2200 MHz since it pertains to MSS allocations;
  • Removal of international footnotes 5.389C, 5.389E and 5.390 from the band 2180-2200 MHz as they do not apply to this portion of the band.

1.1.7 Changes to the Canadian Table in the Band 1670-1675 MHz

The 2005 edition of the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations incorporated the decisions of the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference, including allocations to the fixed and mobile services in the band 1670-1675 MHz and an allocation for MSS. Some regulatory provisions adopted at WRC-03 restricted the availability of the MSS spectrum (Earth to space) in part of North America.

As previously stated, the Department determined that MSS spectrum should be harmonized in North America to ensure the viability of the service. While the MSS allocation to the bands 1518-1525 MHz and 1668-1675 MHz is entered in the Canadian Table, the use of these bands for MSS is withheld. Canadian footnote C31A indicates that the use of fixed and mobile services is subject to future policy review. Since the policy to enable the use of this spectrum by fixed and mobile service is stated in this document, footnote C31A will be deleted.

Changes to the Canadian Table are shown in Annex 3.

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2. Spectrum Utilization

2.1 Bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz

Scope of the AWS designation

A number of respondents to the 2003 AWS consultation suggested that the Department should consider expanding the AWS bands to 1710-1770 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz in the longer term. Such an expansion would add an extra 30 MHz (15+15) of wireless access spectrum and allow further harmonization worldwide. It was also noted that this would enable manufacturers to provide handsets with a 60+60 MHz capability consistent with the usage of this band in Europe and Asia and thereby provide additional economies of scale.

The Department has decided that in this round of consultation, the designation will be limited to the 45+45 MHz to align the spectrum in North America. As a result of the comments received, the extension of these bands could be the subject of a future spectrum utilization policy. This is reflected in a new Canadian footnote C37.

Service Definition

In the 2003 AWS consultation paper, the Department proposed that this spectrum be designated for AWS with a service capability of high mobility and fixed operations. The public comments, in general, supported this terminology in order to align service within North America.

The limited amount of wireless access spectrum below 3 GHz puts pressure on the Department to continue to open up new bands and develop transition policies for the incumbents. A number of bands are under consideration for designation at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference. Current licensees in these bands have asked the Department to ensure that the spectrum already available for access is fully used before the Department contemplates vacating new bands. Opening new bands is justified because the use of the spectrum for wireless access applications (e.g. IMT) is very important. Numerous licensees of fixed services in the band will be transitioned out of the band at their cost to facilitate the deployment of wireless access applications. Since backhaul is very similar to the services being transitioned out and numerous bands are available for backhaul, this spectrum is not to be used for primarily backhaul purposes.

Advanced Wireless Services are first and foremost subscriber based services to provide Canadians with access to the public telephone network and the Internet. Consequently, as part of the service definition, the AWS spectrum is available for wireless access applications. Flexibility is provided to the licensees within the context of wireless access applications within the mobile and fixed service allocations. While this spectrum is not to be used primarily for backhaul purposes, some technologies, such as mesh networks, intrinsically provide both access and backhaul; for greater flexibility, these networks will be considered as providing access.

2.2 Bands 1910-1920 MHz and 1990-2000 MHz

Summary of Consultation

In the 2003 AWS consultation paper, the Department asked for comments on the interest and need to designate the bands 1910-1920 MHz and 1990-2000 MHz for the extension of the band 1850-1990 MHz for PCS or AWS. In general, comments received supported the Department's intentions and rationale for this band. Some expressed concerns over the possible interference problems resulting from the narrow duplex band separation of 10 MHz for the second pair of 5+5 MHz (1915-1920 and 1995-2000 MHz). These technical issues need to be addressed before the licensing of the second pair of 5+5 MHz (1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz). Possible interference to MSS systems at 2 GHz from PCS systems operating in the new extended band will be investigated.

Provisions Related to the Bands

The Department is designating the bands 1910-1920 MHz and 1990-2000 MHz for licensed PCS service. A first paired block of 5+5 MHz (1910-1915/1990-1995 MHz) will be made available at the same time as AWS. The second pair will be held in reserve until the technical issues referred to above have been addressed. The Department will consult the industry in order to develop suitable standards applicable to the 1915-1920/1995-2000 MHz bands and to ensure compatibility with adjacent services such as the MSS.

2.3 Bands 2020-2025 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz

Summary of Consultation

In the 2003 AWS consultation paper, the Department asked for comments on the interest and need to designate the bands 2020-2025 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz for particular terrestrial services or applications. Most respondents agreed that these bands should be the subject of a future spectrum utilization policy for the introduction of AWS. Others expressed the view that it was premature to develop these policies at this time.

As previously stated, many respondents expressed the view that the Department should consider the extension of the AWS bands, pairing 1755-1770 MHz with 2155-2170 MHz, given possible requirements for additional spectrum.

Provisions Related to the Bands

The Department is not ready at this time to designate or license the bands 2020-2025 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz for AWS until potential service applications, band pairing, and technology are clear.

The use of the bands 1755-1780 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz and 2155-2180 MHz will be addressed in a future public consultation as per Canadian footnote C37.

2.4 Band 1670-1675 MHz

Summary of Consultation

Through the release of Canada Gazette notice DGTP 004-05, the Department requested comments on the use of the band 1670-1675 MHz. A number of entities have expressed interest in having this band opened for flexible use of fixed and mobile services. Currently trials are being conducted under developmental licences in the band.

Provisions Related to the Band

Therefore the Department designates the band 1670-1675 MHz for fixed and mobile services (except aeronautical mobile) and seeks comments on the licensing framework for the assignment of this spectrum in Part II in document. As stated previously, Canadian footnote C31A is no longer required and is suppressed.

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3. Treatment of Incumbent Licensees

3.1 General Principles

The Minister plans the allocation and use of the radio frequency spectrum pursuant to the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act. Section 40 of the Radiocommunication Regulations specifically provides that the assignment of a frequency does not confer a monopoly on the use of the frequency or any right of continuing tenure in respect of the frequency.

It is the general policy of Industry Canada to effect the displacement of frequency assignments, only where and when required, so as to minimize disruption. The Department recognizes the significance of providing reasonable notice to inform spectrum users of any conditions or circumstances that might result in the displacement of services.

All costs associated with displacement of frequency assignments are and will remain the responsibility of the spectrum users. The Government of Canada bears no responsibility for any or all costs and expenses incurred by the displacement of frequency assignments and, accordingly, does not have a responsibility or intent to financially compensate spectrum users who are displaced. As new services are introduced, arrangements may be made between new radio users and incumbents on a voluntary basis, as a contractual matter between private parties to the extent that such arrangements are consistent with the provisions of the spectrum transition policy.

These are long-standing principles that have been used successfully for many years to introduce new radio services while taking into account the needs of new operators and the incumbents.

3.2 Transition Provisions for Fixed Services in the Band 2110-2170 MHz for the Implementation of AWS in the Bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz

In the AWS consultation paper, the existing usage of the bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz was reviewed. The Department placed a moratorium on the licensing of any new fixed microwave stations and on the addition of frequencies to existing microwave systems in the band 1710-1755 MHz. A moratorium had previously been imposed in 1995, on the further licensing of new fixed microwave stations in the bands 1990-2010 MHz and 2110-2200 MHz in order to facilitate the introduction of emerging wireless communications.

The licensee in the Multipoint Communications System (MCS) and Multipoint Distribution System (MDS) return bands (2150-2162 MHz) was notified in 2004 that the licence would be subject to the transition policy applicable to the fixed service for the implementation of AWS. Furthermore, the Department is currently proceeding with a consultation process to implement a new band plan in the 2500 MHz band. The purpose of this planning activity is to enable the use of mobile services (for both forward and reverse channels within the same band) and new, more efficient technologies.

Noting that respondents to the consultation proposed that the Department consider implementing AWS up to 2170 MHz at some future time, and noting the possible interference from the co-channel and adjacent channel MCS/MDS return links into AWS systems, the transition provisions for the implementation of AWS will be applicable to all fixed services in the band 2110-2170 MHz, including MCS/MDS applications.

Fixed licensees will be afforded a notification period before displacement following the AWS licensing process. The Department proposed that the transition policy be based on the displacement of incumbents on a "where necessary" basis. The continued operation of existing microwave systems in remote and rural areas may be permitted if it does not prevent the deployment of planned AWS systems in accordance with the transition policy in this document.

It was proposed that existing fixed stations would be subject to displacement with a minimum 1-year notification period if they affect the deployment of AWS in urbanFootnote 4 areas or in specific geographic areas such as along major highway corridors. It was also proposed that a 2-year minimum notification period apply to fixed stations in all other areas.

In general, the comments received were supportive of the 1 and 2-year notification periods for displacement. Some incumbents indicated however that they would have difficulty complying with the 1-year displacement period and would need 2 years.

In the AWS consultation, a new Canadian footnote C33A which included a date affecting the priority status of licensees was proposed. The comments suggested that the priority status date should be linked to the date of the future competitive licensing process and not to be an absolute date established independently. At this point in time, the Department has decided not to add the proposed footnote C33A. Since the competitive licensing process is going to take place after the date suggested in the proposed footnote, the question of the timeline for the priority between services is no longer relevant. The transition policy adopted herein will be sufficient to address any question of priority.

The Department is adopting the following transition policy for the bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz. The policy provides a reasonable notification period for the displacement of fixed services and allows for the timely deployment of new AWS services in these bands.

The minimum notification period is as follows:

By the release of this paper, fixed station frequency assignments located either near urban areas or along major highway corridors are given advance notice that they may be subject to displacement. This advanced notice will provide those licensees in urban areas that have a high probability of being displaced with extra time for planning purposes.

Industry Canada will inform incumbents of the policy. Though the transition policy provides for a 1- or 2-year notice depending on location, this notice effectively extends the notification period by at least 1 year.

After the close of the auction and licensing, the AWS operators must identify the specific fixed station frequency assignments that may prevent their deployment of AWS. This should include the areas, the spectrum required and timeframes for the deployment of AWS services, in order to enable the Department to issue displacement notifications to the incumbent licensees. The following minimum notification periods will apply:

  1. For AWS implementation in urban areas having a population of 25,000 or more, and those along major highway corridors, all fixed station frequency assignments subject to displacement will be afforded a minimum of a 1-year notification period; and
  2. For AWS implementation in other markets, all fixed station frequency assignments subject to displacement will be given a minimum of a 2-year notification period.
  3. Mutually acceptable arrangements between the new licensees and the incumbents may provide for earlier displacement to the extent that such arrangements are consistent with the policy set out in this paper.

Regarding fixed systems above 2155 MHz identified as impeding the deployment of AWS, the Department is of the view that displacement of incumbent stations should be justified technically. Studies will be required to demonstrate interference as frequency separation provides additional protection to AWS systems. The Department is concerned about the possibility of premature displacement. AWS licensees have a responsibility to advise the Department of any delays or changes in their implementation plans, particularly where they affect the displacement of fixed service licensees. The Department may postpone some displacements where there are expected delays in deployment.

3.3 Transition Provisions for the PCS Expansion Band

The band 1910-1930 MHz was identified in 1994 for use by licence-exempt PCS operations. The Electro-federation Canada (EFC) undertook the task of coordinating the manufacturing industry's activities in bringing these products to the marketplace. The activities were to include the identification of fixed microwave systems or particular links that would need to be displaced for the introduction of non-nomadic LE-PCS. Following the AWS consultation paper of October 2003, the Department placed a moratorium on the certification of any new LE-PCS devices for use in the band 1910-1920 MHz through Spectrum Advisory Bulletin SAB-001-05, dated December 2005. It was indicated in this Bulletin that the designation for the use of this band would be developed in a future spectrum utilization policy.

Any remaining fixed systems in the band 1910-1915 MHz that may be affected by the use of the spectrum by PCS services will be subject to the same 1-year and 2-year notification provisions as noted above for the AWS bands. The same transition provision applies to its paired band 1990-1995 MHz.

3.4 Transition Provisions for the 1670-1675 MHz Band

According to the Department's licensing database, there are no incumbents in this band; therefore, a transition policy is not required.


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