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

3. Mandated Roaming

A general objective of the Telecommunications Act is to promote the availability of reliable and affordable telecommunications service to all regions of Canada.

The need for roaming by carriers was made clear in comments for the previous consultation under DGTP-007-03 Footnote 16. Although the issue consulted on at that time was roaming for non-competing carriers in rural and remote areas, the comments are still relevant.

It was described in comments that new entrants are at a competitive disadvantage with regard to incumbent wireless carriers if their customers have no ability to roam onto other networks.

As a result of that consultation, the Department issued a statement encouraging the existing carriers to offer roaming to non-competing carriers.

In 1995, at the time of licensing the national and regional PCS carriers for the 2 GHz spectrum, conditions of licence were imposed on the existing cellular mobile carriers to afford commercial arrangements to new PCS carriers for analogue cellular telephony roaming and resale at 800 MHz using dual mode PCS/Cellular terminals. An objective of the cellular roaming provision was to extend the mobile telephony service coverage of new PCS carriers to their subscribers during the implementation phase of their 2 GHz PCS network since the incumbent cellular carriers had established mature national analogue cellular service coverage. Consequently, the condition of licence imposed on the national and regional cellular carriers at 800 MHz does not include the offering of a digital cellular telephony roaming arrangement.

The Department also notes that analogue cellular equipment is being discontinued by most major manufacturers. Also, some of the national operators are discontinuing the sale of stand-alone analogue cellular and this infrastructure is being replaced by digital telephony networks.

The Department notes that digital telephony roaming service is commonly available to foreigners traveling in Canada or to Canadians traveling in many regions of the world. It is expected that Canadian subscribers of any carrier would benefit from similar roaming services. As mobile services have become an important service to many Canadians, it is important that all networks be fully integrated into the national telecommunications networks.

The Department invites comments on mandating incumbent mobile wireless operators to offer roaming services - to both competing and non-competing Canadian carriers - to foster the development of competitive wireless communication services.

Comments are invited on the extent to which the lack of mandated roaming could be a barrier to entry into the wireless market.

Comments are sought on what services should be included in any mandated roaming and to what specific frequency band(s) roaming should apply.

Comments are sought on the mechanisms that would best implement the policy objectives regarding roaming.

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4. Technical Considerations

The following section provides the technical characteristics and licence parameters that should be considered when responding to the proposals contained in this document or in submitting other suggestions for consideration. Comments are welcome on any technical issue. The Department will establish final technical specifications in consultation with the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) after the final spectrum policy and licensing procedures document is released.

4.1 Spectrum Bands

4.1.1 The Bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz

In the 2003 AWS consultation, the Department asked for preliminary comments and suggestions on the size of spectrum blocks and the pairing and combination for the channellization of the paired bands 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz. All responses to this question indicated that the block sizes should be a minimum of 5+5 MHz with a duplex spacing of 400 MHz. It was stated that these block sizes of integer multiples of 5 MHz would be capable of supporting all known technologies, including identified international IMT-2000 technologies. Another response received to this question specifically suggested four paired blocks of 10+10 MHz and one block of 5+5 MHz. Many respondents indicated that the Canadian band plan for this spectrum should be harmonized with the plan used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In developing a band plan for the purposes of consultation, the Department used the 5 MHz block as a basic unit. The 5 MHz block is harmonized with the U.S. and other countries to provide for technical neutrality, which facilitates roaming and bilateral coordination. The band plan and block sizes shown in Figure 1 and Table 1 below are based on the 5 MHz block grid, with band edges that align with the U.S. for both base and mobile stations, and internationally for base stations.

figure 1 is a visual for the information displayed in Table 1 below

Figure 1 - Proposed Band Plan

Incumbent cellular and PCS spectrum holders are currently reusing their existing spectrum to deploy advanced mobile systems and it is expected that the AWS spectrum will be used to complement existing systems. Small blocks of 5+5 MHz that are available in different geographic areas are well suited to complement existing systems since applicants will have maximum flexibility to aggregate the spectrum they need where they need it. Also, different PCS/Cellular licensees and new entrants may have different spectrum requirements. Therefore, both 5 MHz and 10 MHz block pairs provide the market with the flexibility to meet these diverse needs.

The Department also chose to include a 15+15 MHz block, which represents three channels. This block could provide sufficient high mobility spectrum for providers to deploy new systems for voice, data and video applications.

In the 2003 AWS consultation paper, the Department sought views on the use of the lower band for mobile operations and the upper band for base station operation. Respondents were in favour of this approach. Because the Department favours technological neutrality, it could allow time division duplexing (TDD) Footnote 17 techniques in the above sub-bands if they are proposed by operators. However, these systems will have to operate within the envelope of technical rules of frequency division duplexing (FDD) Footnote 18 systems. All systems must conform to the technical requirements set forth in the standards to be developed by the Department.

The Department intends to consult the industry in the development of those standards.

Table 1 - Proposed Block Sizes
Block Licences Pairing Amount of Spectrum
A 1710-1715 MHz and 2110-2115 MHz 2 x 5 MHz
B 1715-1720 MHz and 2115-2120 MHz 2 x 5 MHz
C 1720-1730 MHz and 2120-2130 MHz 2 x 10 MHz
D 1730-1740 MHz and 2130-2140 MHz 2 x 10 MHz
E 1740-1755 MHz and 2140-2155 MHz 2 x 15 MHz

Comments are sought by the Department as to whether:

  1. the band plan shown in Figure 1 should be adopted in Canada - if not, please provide specific alternative options and the rationale justifying your suggestion;
  2. the Department should allow TDD operation in these sub-bands if they meet the conditions listed above - if not, please provide the rationale supporting your view.

4.1.2 The Band 1670-1675 MHz

With the release of Canada Gazette notice DGTP-004-05, the Department consulted on the use of the band 1670-1675 MHz. Comments received showed interest in having this band opened for flexible use by fixed and mobile services.

To have a block size capable of supporting all known technologies, including those identified as IMT 2000, the block sizes should be a minimum of 5 MHz. To benefit the economies of scale for the deployment of systems, the Canadian band plan for this spectrum should be the same as that adopted by the FCC. The Department therefore proposes to licence the band 1670-1675 MHz as one single block for fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) services.

Operators may deploy time division duplexing (TDD) techniques or frequency division duplexing (FDD) techniques in this block. If FDD is proposed, radio systems may use this block paired with another block acquired via auction. This block may be used for mobile transmit operation or for base transmit operation. All systems shall conform to the technical requirements set forth in the standards to be developed by the Department in consultation with the industry.

Comments are sought by the Department as to whether:

  1. the band plan as proposed should be adopted in Canada - if not, please provide specific alternative options and the rationale supporting your suggestion;
  2. the technological neutrality related to duplexing should be adopted in Canada - if not, please provide the rationale supporting your view.

4.1.3 The Bands 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz

In the 2003 AWS consultation paper, the Department sought comments on the proposal to use the bands 1910-1920 MHz and 1990-2000 MHz for the extension of the 1850-1990 MHz PCS band. Comments received supported the Department's proposal.

To be consistent with the existing PCS band plan, the Department is making available the first paired block of 5+5 MHz (1910-1915 MHz /1990-1995 MHz) at the same time as the AWS spectrum, as expansion bands for PCS.

The Department proposes to apply the same standards used presently for PCS Footnote 19. The Standard Radio System Plan 510 and Radio Standards Specification 133 Footnote 20 will be updated by the Department in consultation with the industry.

Comments are sought by the Department as to whether:

  1. the band plan as proposed should be adopted in Canada -- if not, please provide specific alternative option and the rationale supporting your suggestion;
  2. 2. the standards for PCS should be applicable to this spectrum -- if not, please provide the rationale supporting your view.

4.2 Service Areas

The Department has established four tiers of service areas, which it uses for competitive licensing procedures. These areas cover the entire geography of Canada, ranging from a single national service area (Tier 1) to a set of 172 small areas (Tier 4) suitable for local development.

These service area tiers are based on contiguous groupings of Statistics Canada's 2001 Census Divisions and Subdivisions. For full details of the tiers, please refer to the document Service Areas for Competitive Licensing, available on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf01627.html.

In general, the Department is of the view that it should accommodate high-speed mobile applications. This is consistent with many other countries, including the United States. Consequently, the tier size should accommodate wide area systems for the purposes of new service plans and the extension of capacity.

4.2.1 AWS Service Areas, 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz

In the past, the Department has licensed equivalent spectrum, such as cellular (800 MHz) and PCS (1900 MHz), on a national basis. This allowed for the deployment of service across the country. The Department is of the view that the services likely to be offered with AWS spectrum would be amenable to licensing both on a local and a larger regional level basis, by both incumbent and new carriers. Therefore, the Department proposes that a mix of Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 service areas be used to license these bands. See Table 2 for a summary of proposed block and tier sizes.

Table 2 - Summary of Proposed Block and Tier Sizes
Block Licences Pairing Amount of Spectrum Proposed Tiers Number of Licences
A 1710-1715 MHz and 2110-2115 MHz 2 x 5 MHz 4 172
B 1715-1720 MHz and 2115-2120 MHz 2 x 5 MHz 4 172
C 1720-1730 MHz and 2120-2130 MHz 2 x 10 MHz 3 59
D 1730-1740 MHz and 2130-2140 MHz 2 x 10 MHz 3 59
E 1740-1755 MHz and 2140-2155 MHz 2 x 15 MHz 2 14

Comments are sought on the proposed tier sizes for AWS spectrum.

Comments are sought on whether the block and tier sizes given above will allow the entry of new carriers in the market.

4.2.2 PCS Expansion Service Areas, 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz

The Department is of the view that the services likely to be offered with PCS expansion spectrum would be amenable to large service areas, and therefore proposes that Tier 2 service areas be used to license these bands.

Comments are sought on the proposal of Tier 2 service areas.

4.2.3 1670-1675 MHz Service Areas

The Department is of the view that the services likely to be offered with 1670-1675 MHz spectrum would be amenable to large service areas and proposes that Tier 2 service areas be used to license these bands.

Comments are sought on the proposal of Tier 2 service areas.

4.3 Co-channel/Adjacent Area Coordination

In the case of co-channel/adjacent area systems, licensees will be encouraged to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements to foster efficient spectrum use near their common boundaries.

The Department expects the licensees to initiate and coordinate the deployment of systems. Licensees should develop effective arrangements with neighbouring licensees to maximize the use of the spectrum. Furthermore, in cases of interference resulting from the operation of two AWS, licensees should cooperate fully to resolve those conflicts through mutual arrangements.

It should be noted that licensees will be expected to take full advantage of interference mitigation techniques such as antenna discrimination, polarization, frequency offset, shielding, site selection, and power control to facilitate coexistence with systems of other operators, at both design and implementation stages, and taking into consideration hubs and subscriber terminals.

The Department proposes to use the same process and criteria as for cellular systems Footnote 21 and PCS Footnote 22 for coordination between licensees. More precise technical requirements will be developed at a later date in consultation with the industry.

4.4 Adjacent Channel/Same Area Coordination

For the coordination of systems using adjacent channels or blocks of spectrum in the same geographic area, the Department proposes to use the same process as in cases of coordination of systems which use co-channels in adjacent areas as described in Section 4.3.

Minimum technical requirements to permit coexistence of systems operating in adjacent channels within the same geographical area will need to be established. Out-of-block emission limits will be provided at a later date in a Radio Standards Specification document, which will be developed in consultation with the industry.

Comments are requested on technical considerations for AWS systems in the applicable bands.

4.5 Sharing Issues with Other Services

As indicated in the previous section, AWS systems, deployed in the bands 1710-1755 MHz, 1990-1995 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz before the end of the transition period afforded to the incumbents, will be required to protect the incumbent microwave fixed systems. This does not preclude that mutually acceptable arrangements may be negotiated between new radio users and existing users on a voluntary basis, within the provisions of the spectrum transition policy.

The band 1670-1675 MHz is adjacent to the radio astronomy band 1668.5-1670 MHz which is being used for by the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton, British Columbia. Licensees will be required to protect the radio astronomy service in this location.

Further details will be provided at a later date in a Standard Radio System Plan, which will be developed in consultation with the industry for each band identified above.

Comments are requested on technical considerations for sharing of AWS systems with other services in the applicable bands.

4.6 Equipment Certification

Under the Radiocommunication Act, certification of radio apparatus is required. The details will be provided at a later date in a Radio Standards Specification document, which will be developed in consultation with the industry.

4.7 International Coordination

Licensees must respect ITU Radio Regulations pertaining to the bands 1670-1675 MHz, 1710-1755 MHz, 1910-1915 MHz, 1990-1995 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz and abide by any future agreements established with other countries.

It should be noted that the band 1670-1675 MHz is covered in ITU-R Resolution 744 of WRC-03. This Resolution will be addressed in WRC-07 under Agenda Item 1.7. The use of this band may be subject to the outcome of WRC-07.

The assignments of undertakings near the Canada/U.S. border are subject to the coordination agreements established between the two countries. Bilateral negotiations between Industry Canada and the FCC of the United States for the sharing of the bands 1670-1675 MHz, 1710-1755 MHz, 1910-1915 MHz, 1990-1995 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz are ongoing. It is expected that coordination will be carried out by licensees. Licensees will be encouraged to enter into mutually acceptable sharing agreements that will facilitate the reasonable and timely development of their respective systems in the border area. These agreements provide the basis for coordination in this area.

Bilateral arrangements with the U.S. in the bands 1710-1755 MHz, 1990-1995 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz may include requirements to protect the existing fixed microwave stations during the transition period. The band 2150-2155 MHz may also include requirements to protect the existing multipoint distribution systems.


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