Archived—Multipoint Communications Systems in the 2500 MHz Range (MCS) — Policy and Licensing Procedures

4. Spectrum and Licensing Policy

4.1 Spectrum Structure and Usage

As was discussed in the Consultation Document, although the band 2500-2596 MHz has been available for MCS applications for many years on a first-come, first-served basis, recently manifested excess demand has led the Minister to initiate public consultations leading to a comparative licensing process.

Within the band 2500-2596 MHz, there is 96 MHz of spectrum available for assignment. Under the existing provisions of Revisions to Microwave Spectrum Utilization Policies in the Range of 1-20 GHz (SP 1-20 GHz), the types of MCS systems permitted in this band include one-way and two-way video and data services (e.g., instructional TV, video conferencing, multi-media applications). The Department is now implementing changes to this spectrum and licensing policy.

4.1.1 General

Comments submitted in response to the Department's Consultation Document stressed that given the limited amount of spectrum available, intersystem compatibilities could become an increasing concern if there were to be multiple licensees, particularly if two-way services were to be implemented. The Department has also taken into account the equipment and technology availability, usage of spectrum in other countries including the U.S., and industry pressures to move quickly. In consideration of all these issues, Industry Canada believes its general policy objectives for MCS, outlined in section 3 above, will likely be achieved by authorizing one MCS system per defined service area.

The Department does not intend to restrict the services to be offered in this band. Permitting licensees to offer a wide range of services, subject to technical limitations, will give licensees flexibility to react to market conditions and technical advances as they occur. However, in consideration of comments received on the use of MCS for learning purposes and given the direct linkages to Government policy, the Department will require that licensees accommodate local learning needs, as outlined in section 5.2.3. As well, to permit two-way operations, the Department is designating two additional bands, 2150-2160 MHz and 2686-2690 MHz, as is discussed in more detail below.

4.1.2 The Band 2500-2596 MHz

This band will be assigned as described below:

  1. a single block of 96 MHz (16 x 6 MHz channels) will be licensed in the band 2500-2596 MHz.
  2. one-way and two-way MCS operation will be permitted within the band 2500-2596 MHz.

4.1.3 Designation of the Band 2150-2160 MHz for Use by MCS and MDS Systems

Public comment was solicited in the Consultation Document on the specific requirement for spectrum outside the band 2500-2596 MHz to accommodate return traffic for MCS systems. Respondents supporting the designation of such spectrum particularly stressed the advantages of harmonizing spectrum use with the U.S. In particular, comments received advocated the designation of the spectrum band 2150-2162 MHz for return capability for MCS. Some concerns were expressed by PCS advocates stating that no new spectrum should be designated for fixed services.

On balance, Industry Canada has concluded that there is a need for out-of-band return spectrum for new MCS and MDS5 systems. This will allow MCS systems to provide a certain level of two-way interactive service and MDS operators the ability to provide interaction with programming and non-programming services. As a result, the Department is designating the band 2150-2160 MHz to provide return capability to both the MCS band (2500-2596 MHz) and the MDS band (2596-2686 MHz). MCS systems will have exclusive access to 2150-2156 MHz, and MDS systems will have access to 2156-2160 MHz. This additional spectrum provides a closer alignment with the spectrum usage in the United States and may result in economies of scale for equipment procurement.

In Canada, Mobile-Satellite Service (MSS) has been added as a primary allocation to the band 2160-2200 MHz, with a footnote restricting access to the band 2160-2170 MHz until after January 1, 2000. As a result, spectrum between 2160-2162 MHz will not be available for terrestrial MCS and MDS services. Further, use of the spectrum within the band 2150-2160 MHz by MCS and MDS operators will have to take into account incumbent systems presently licensed in the band. (See section 4.6.3. on the treatment of these existing licensees.)

MDS licensees wishing to gain access to the band 2156-2160 MHz should make application to their local Industry Canada office.

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4.1.4 Designation of the Band 2686-2690 MHz for Use by MCS and MDS Systems

In addition to the spectrum noted in previous sections, spectrum in the band 2686-2690 MHz will also be designated on an equitable and proportional basis for MCS and MDS systems in Canada. For the purpose of facilitating the division of spectrum between MCS and MDS licensees as well as coordination, spectrum is divided into 31 narrowband channels of 125 kHz.

The lower portion of the band, 2686-2688 MHz, will be designated for MCS and the upper portion of the band 2688-2690 MHz will be available for MDS, as is detailed in Table 1, below. Licensees will not have to follow this channelization plan but will be subject to the technical parameters described in section 4.2. MDS licensees should apply to their local Industry Canada office to gain access to this band.

Table 1: MCS and MDS Channel Designations

MCS Channel Frequencies MDS Channel Frequencies
Channel No Frequency (MHz) Channel No Frequency (MHz)
1
2

15
16
2686.0625
2686.1875

2687.8125
2687.9375
17
18

30
31
2688.0625
2688.1875

2689.6875
2689.8125

Use of the spectrum 2686-2690 MHz must take into account incumbent fixed system operators currently licensed in the band as is discussed in section 4.6.4.

4.2 Technical Considerations

4.2.1 The Band 2500-2596 MHz

The following section specifies the technical requirements for the authorization of MCS operating in the 2500-2596 MHz band. The Department encourages, but will not mandate digital technology, in keeping with comments received from industry.

4.2.1.1 Co-existence

Whenever two or more radio stations in the same general vicinity share spectrum, there is the potential for radio interference from transmitters to receivers. Coordination processes for this band are therefore required.

In the Consultation Document, the Department requested input on preferred mechanisms for domestic coexistence and appropriate technical parameters. Specifically, the Department sought views as to whether the traditional site-to-site coordination mechanism should be retained, or if a service area boundary condition could be utilized. In response to these questions, interested parties clearly indicated a preference for boundary conditions, and suggested boundary field levels for the Department's consideration. The Department concurs with the proposals for co-existence and sets the following general technical parameters:

  1. The development of sharing arrangements6 between operators in adjacent service areas is required for MCS facilities that exceed the power flux density (pfd) of -80dBW/m2/6MHz at the service area boundary, in an adjacent service area. If systems on both sides of the service area border utilize analog modulation, the level of -70dBW/m2/6MHz may be used.

    The pfd shall be calculated on all channels and shall be based on free-space calculation.

  2. Out-of-band emissions of the system shall comply with the following spectral mask which is imposed on the highest and lowest channels only. For digital modulation, power spectral density across the occupied bandwidth of the signal shall be uniform.

    For a hub or repeater station with an EIRP larger than -9 dBW (126 mW), with NTSC modulation, the power spectral mask shall have an attenuation of 38 dB at the channel edge, increasing linearly to 60 dB at 1 MHz below the lower edge/at 500 kHz above upper edge, using the peak visual carrier as reference.

    For a hub or repeater station with an EIRP larger than -9 dBW using digital modulation, the power spectral mask shall have an attenuation of 25 dB at channel edge, increasing linearly to 40 dB at 250 kHz above/below edge, then following a linear slope to 60 dB at 3 MHz above/below edge, using the average 6 MHz power level as a reference.

    This requirement will not apply to the MCS at the high channel edge, if it is sharing the same facilities or co-sited with an MDS system using the same type of equipment, power and antenna.

  3. The maximum EIRP of a single station shall not exceed 32 dBW (1585 W) in any direction, using any polarization, for each 6 MHz channel. Hub-to-hub interconnection using spectrum in the 2500-2596 MHz band will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  4. The frequency tolerance for the hub or repeater station with an EIRP larger than -9dBW should be + or – 1 kHz or better.

  5. The antenna shall use linear polarization. Either horizontal or vertical polarization may be used subject to any coordination constraints in the international coordination zone with the U.S.

  6. All radio equipment shall be certified. The Department intends to issue a Radio Standards Specification at a later date. The Department also intends to revise Standard Radio System Plan 302.5 (SRSP-302.5), Technical Requirements for Stations in the Fixed Services Operating in the 2,500 to 2,686 MHz Band, Issue 1, July 27, 1985 at a later date. Some technical parameters in this section may be revised at the time of the issuance of these documents.

  7. Transmitting stations at subscriber's premise communicating with a hub station which shall be located within the authorized service area may use any sub-channelized band and must also abide by the co-existence criteria above.

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Additional Considerations

Multipoint Distribution Systems (MDS)

The Department expects MCS licensees to ensure mutual co-existence with all existing MDS undertakings in the band 2596-2686 MHz serving the same and adjacent areas and vice versa. The technical characteristics of the broadcasting service in the band 2596-2686 MHz are outlined in the Broadcast Procedures and Rules, Part VI (BPR, Part VI) Application Procedures and Rules for Multipoint Distribution Television Broadcasting Undertakings (MDS-TV) which is available on the Industry Canada Internet site.

Mobile-Satellite Service (MSS)

At the 1992 World Radiocommunication Conference, Canada supported the international allocation of the band 2483.5-2500 MHz to Mobile-Satellite Service. In the 1994 revision to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations, the band 2483.5-2500 MHz was domestically allocated to MSS on a primary basis for the space-to-Earth direction. Following this, an MSS system was authorized and is expected to be operational in mid-1999. This system will utilize the allocation for satellite-to-user link. This band is adjacent to the MCS band and will have to be respected.

The Department expects MCS and MSS licensees to take into consideration the technical characteristics and the area of operation of the MCS and MSS systems, and work together to minimize the interference between the systems.

4.2.1.2 International Coordination

Both Canada and the United States use the band 2500-2596 MHz for multipoint systems under the terms of an arrangement which provides for frequency sharing in the border area. This arrangement has recently been updated to take into account the deployment of digital systems and may need to be reviewed in the near future to take into account two-way applications and use of the bands 2150-2160 MHz and 2686-2690 MHz.

The operation of MCS systems that are within 80 km of the Canada/USA border shall comply with both domestic technical sharing criteria and the terms of the understanding between Industry Canada and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States. This understanding, which came into force on December 5, 1997, is entitled General FCC/Industry Canada Understanding Concerning the Coordination of the 2500-2686 MHz Band within 80 km (50 miles) of the USA/Canada Border. The Understanding defines the specific technical sharing parameters for the noted frequency band. It provides access to all channels by both administrations subject to each administration utilizing its designated antenna polarization.

While international coordination is not normally required under the provision of the Understanding, each administration is required to notify the other of the operating parameters for each MCS hub station within the border area. These parameters, listed in Annex B to the Understanding, must be submitted to Industry Canada within 60 days following the implementation of a new or modified MCS station assignment in order to allow for their notification to the FCC. Industry Canada will identify the appropriate format and means of submission at a later date with the licensees.

4.2.2 The Bands 2150-2156 MHz and 2686-2688 MHz

The following section specifies the technical requirements for the authorization of spectrum in the bands 2150-2156 MHz and 2686-2688 MHz.

Transmitting stations at subscriber's premise shall communicate with a hub station located within the authorized service area. Additionally, these transmitting stations are to be operated on a "non-interference" basis and may be required to take corrective action or to cease transmission in the event that they are found to cause harmful interference.

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4.2.2.1 Co-existence

The Department sets the following general technical parameters for the operation of radio apparatus in the bands 2150-2156 MHz and 2686-2688 MHz:

  1. The development of sharing arrangements7 between operators in adjacent service areas is required for MCS facilities where the combined signals of all simultaneously operating transmitting stations at subscriber's premises toward a hub station exceeds a pfd of -80dBW/m2/6MHz (or the pro rata power spectral density equivalent based on the bandwidth actually employed) at the service area boundary. If systems on both sides of the service area border utilize analog modulation, the level of -70dBW/m2/6MHz may be used.

    The pfd shall be calculated on all channels and shall be based on free-space calculation.

  2. Out-of-band emissions of the system shall comply with the following spectral mask which is imposed on the highest and lowest channels only. For digital modulation, power spectral density across the occupied bandwidth of the signal shall be uniform.

    For transmitting stations at the subscriber's premises using analog modulation within the 125 kHz channels, the channel shall be centered at the assigned frequency as described in section 4.1.4. If amplitude modulation is used, the carrier shall not be modulated in excess of 100%. If frequency modulation is used, the deviation shall not exceed ± 25 kHz. Any emissions outside the channel shall be attenuated at the channel edges at least 35 dB below peak output power, and any emission more than 125 kHz from the channel edge, including harmonics, shall be attenuated at least 60 dB below peak output power.

    For response stations using digital modulation within the 125 kHz channels, the power spectral mask must have an attenuation of 35 dB at the channel edge, increasing linearly to 60 dB at all frequencies that are more than 125 kHz above and/or below the channel edge, using the average power level over the 125 kHz band as a reference.

    This requirement will not apply to the MCS at the channel edge adjacent to an MDS system, if it is sharing the same facilities with MDS (using the same type of equipment, power and antenna).

  3. The maximum EIRP of a single station shall not exceed 15 dBW (33 W), using any polarization, for a 125 kHz channel. Hub-to-hub interconnection will be considered on a case-bycase basis.

  4. The antenna shall be directional and shall use linear polarization.

  5. All radio equipment shall be certified. The technical parameters in this section may be revised when the Department issues a Radio Standards Specification.

Additional Considerations

All existing incumbent fixed systems presently licensed in accordance with the Standard Radio System Plan 301.9 (SRSP-301.9) entitled Technical Requirements for Line-of-Sight Radio Systems Operating in the Fixed Service in the Band 1,900-2,290 MHz must be taken account.

Existing systems are protected under the general principles described in sections 4.6.3 and 4.6.4 of this document.

4.2.2.2 International Coordination

The use of the bands 2150-2160 MHz and 2686-2690 MHz are currently covered by Arrangement A8. The governments of Canada and the United States expect to review the terms of the Understanding regarding coordination in the band to take into account two-way applications in the bands 2150-2160 MHz and 2686-2690 MHz. Licensees will be required to comply to any future Canada-United States sharing arrangements for the use of these bands.

4.3 Service Areas

In the Consultation Document, it was proposed that Canada be divided into 17 contiguous service areas along census subdivision lines, varying from relatively small to very large areas. Comments received on this proposal were generally favourable with the exception that many supported the amalgamation of three metropolitan centres (Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto) with adjoining areas due to severe technical coordination constraints. Furthermore, as a result of the learning aspect in the application process whereby provincial learning authorities will coordinate the input of the learning communities and assist MCS applicants in the preparation of their Learning Plans, it was deemed necessary to have service areas that would provide the closest possible alignment with provincial boundaries. As a result, Industry Canada has redefined the divisions so as to set one service area per province and territory, with a total of fourteen (14) services areas with the Eastern Ontario and Outaouais service area being a standalone area for economic, technical and interference reasons (See map below).

A list of these areas with their corresponding authorization fee is provided in Appendix A. A map for the Eastern Ontario and Outaouais service area as well as the list of census divisions comprised in that service area are provided in Appendix B. All other services areas conform exactly to provincial and territorial boundaries, except for the portions of Ontario and Quebec included in the standalone Eastern Ontario and Outaouais service area.

Figure 1. Service Areas

4.4 Eligibility

It is Industry Canada's view that a broad range of service providers should be permitted to participate in the licensing process. Comments received were generally supportive of this direction. Consequently, the Department does not propose to institute any additional eligibility criteria except those required by law. Notably, as it is envisaged that the band will be used by companies operating as radiocommunication carriers, the provisions contained in section 10 of the Radiocommunication Regulations concerning Canadian ownership and control will apply.

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