SP 944 MHz — Spectrum Utilization Policy in the Frequency Range 944–960 MHz

3.3 Spectrum Policy Provisions for the Band 953-960 MHz

3.3.1 Discussion

The band 953-956 MHz has been held in reserve for a number of years. The band 956-960 MHz is currently used by fixed radio service links to support the transmission of AM and FM audio broadcasting from Studio-to-Transmitter Links (STLs).

As indicated in DGTP-006-96, Industry Canada received a proposal from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) to designate the band 953-956 MHz for STLs in the fixed service as an extension to the band 956-960 MHz.

Respondents generally agreed with the provision of additional spectrum for STLs to satisfy their long-term needs for digital radio broadcasting (DRB) facilities in certain geographical areas. In addition, some respondents stated that there is a need for the designation of spectrum to other fixed applications including wireless local loop (WLL) applications in rural areas.

3.3.2 Decision

The Department agrees that there is a need for additional spectrum for STLs, particularly in urban areas where there may be a large number of AM, FM, and potential broadcasting DRB stations. It is noted, however, that DRB STLs will need relatively high capacity (1.5 Mb/s) transmission facilities and that they could be equally accommodated by very low capacity systems in the band 1700–1850 MHz although the equipment would likely be more expensive.

The growth of STLs in a specific area will vary depending on the number of AM stations moving to FM operations and also with the introduction of DRB. Another factor is that the availability of cost effective wireline alternatives will reduce the demand for STLs. In any case, it is evident that the deployment of STLs will not be extensive in rural areas. The spectrum in these areas could be utilized by other radio applications to ensure efficient use of the frequency spectrum.

In this regard, the Department believes that it is important to provide spectrum for radio services that promote consumer access to similar telecommunication services nationwide, particularly in rural areas that are sometimes not adequately served by the current telecommunications infrastructure. In particular, the Department is guided by the Speech from the Throne, September 23, 1997, regarding the objectives of making information and knowledge-based infrastructure available to all Canadians. Therefore, the Department sees merit in the designation of spectrum for radio services such as WLL applications in the band 953-960 MHz that could be deployed outside of the areas of intense use of STLs.

Hence, the Department will designate the use of the band 953-960 MHz for fixed radio service links to support audio broadcasting STLs as well as WLL applications. This spectrum is to be shared on a geographical basis giving priority for access to STLs as required.

3.3.3 Policy Provisions

The band 953-960 MHz is designated for fixed radio service links for both audio broadcasting STLs and WLL applications. WLL applications in this spectrum can support a broad range of applications including telephone and data services in rural and remote areas where a telecommunications infrastructure does not exist or needs upgrading. Taking into account the future spectrum requirements for STLs and WLL applications, the use of the frequency spectrum for STLs and WLLs will be shared, subject to the following criteria to provide access to spectrum for STLs as required:

  1. Geographical zones will be established, in collaboration with interested parties, where the future use of STLs could be most intense. Within these geographical zones, STLs will have priority access to the band 953-960 MHz. A buffer zone will also be defined surrounding these geographical zones, to provide the necessary coordination distance between WLLs and STLs to facilitate access for STLs in these areas.
  2. Outside of the geographical areas defined in (i), the band will be shared between STLs and WLLs. Access to the spectrum will be on a first-come first-served basis, although Industry Canada staff will monitor the deployment of radio systems to ensure adequate access for foreseen requirements of STLs.
  3. Notwithstanding (ii), at least 1 MHz of spectrum, preferably the upper portion of the band 953-960 MHz, will be reserved in all geographical areas for the exclusive use of STLs to account for any unforeseen requirements.
  4. As a general practice, the provision of new STL licences will begin from the upper frequency limit of the band 953-960 MHz, whereas the provision of new WLL licences will begin from the lower frequency limit of the band. The Department will request the assistance of the Radio Advisory Board of Canada in developing the sharing criteria to be applied in the geographical zones described above.

3.4 Spectrum Policy Provision for the band 952-953 MHz

The spectrum policy for the use of the band 952-953 MHz by multipoint communications systems remains unchanged and may be found in the Spectrum Utilization Policy 896 MHz (SP-896 MHz).

4.0 Implementation

It is planned to carry out licensing on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the Department reserves the right to use a competitive licensing process to deal with excess demand or to resolve situations of mutual exclusivity. Inquiries about the policy provisions contained in this document may be addressed to the Spectrum and Radio Services Directorate, Telecommunications Policy Branch, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8.

Issued under the authority of the Radiocommunication Act

Michael Helm
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch

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