Archived—Consultation on the Auction of Spectrum Licences for Wireless Communication Services in the 2300 MHz Band and Fixed Wireless Access in the 3500 MHz Band - Proposed Policy, Licensing Procedures and Technical Considerations

Spectrum Management and Telecommunications Policy

Gazette Notice No. DGRB-006-01

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Telecommunications Policy Objectives
  3. Spectrum Policy for WCS Band - 2300 MHz (2305 - 2320 MHz and 2345 - 2360 MHz)
  4. Spectrum Policy for the FWA Band - 3500 MHz (3400 MHz - 3700 MHz)
  5. Treatment of Incumbent Licensees
  6. Eligibility and Spectrum Aggregation Limits
  7. Technical Considerations
  8. Licensing Process
  9. Financial Aspects of the Auction
  10. Consultation Process
  11. Submitting Your Comments
  12. Further Information

List of Tables:


Consultation on the Auction of Spectrum Licenses for Wireless Communication Services in the 2300 MHz Band and Fixed Wireless Access in the 3500 MHz Band - Proposed Policy, Licensing Procedures and Technical Considerations
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1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to launch the consultation on licensing spectrum for Wireless Communications Services (WCS) in the 2300 MHz Band and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in the 3500 MHz Band. Industry Canada is seeking comments that will assist in the finalization of the spectrum policy and licensing process.

The Department notes that two telecommunications applications in particular require that additional spectrum be made available. The first is fixed telephony, where the high cost of implementing facilities-based service using wireline technology inhibits widespread competition from entering the market. With the advances in wireless technology, the potential for a competitive market now exists. As well, existing service providers may look to the proposed bands in order to complement their current facilities and services. The second application is advanced telecommunications services, in particular high-speed Internet access. The demand for Internet access has grown dramatically and the service providers are using many different technologies including dial-up modem, cable, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), and satellite.

A significant level of investment and activity is being directed by the Canadian industry to provide high-speed Internet access in urban areas. Canadians are among the highest users of Internet of the leading industrialized countries. Canada has a high percentage of homes with computers on-line and has one of the lowest tariffs for high-speed Internet service. Some forecasts project that in the next 2-3 years 3040 % of Canadian households could be subscribing to high-speed Internet and that high-speed Internet access will surpass dial-up Internet modems. With this strong demand forecast for broadband Internet access, the Department believes that new terrestrial wireless technologies have an important and distinct role to play in accelerating high-speed access to the new broadband infrastructure. Hence, additional spectrum below 10 GHz is required to provide the range of interactive communication services that businesses and consumers need to fully participate in the information economy.

In the past three years the Department has licensed a number of fixed service frequency bands on a spectrum-area basis to provide opportunities for businesses and consumers to benefit from a range of advanced communications access services from a number of carriers. The Department has licensed spectrum at 24 GHz, 28 GHz and 38 GHz for a variety of broadband wireless applications. This spectrum is expected to support short distance high density high capacity wireless connections of multiple T-1 channels and will most likely serve businesses in large buildings and apartment complexes first. Some of these systems are being deployed to complement local wireline and fibre distribution networks.

In March 2000, the Department announced the winners of a licensing process for Multipoint Communication Systems (MCS) for fixed services in the band 2500-2596 MHz. This spectrum opened the door for a range of services including high-speed Internet access for consumers and small businesses. Equipment in this spectrum can provide line-of-sight transmission coverage of up to 30 km or more. The spectrum propagation characteristics at 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz permit relatively the same transmission reach as the MCS spectrum at 2500 MHz. The Department's Guidelines on the Licensing Process and Spectrum Release Plan (DGTP-04-99), identified the FWA band at 3500 MHz as one which, based on anticipated demand, would require a competitive licensing process when opened to urban areas and large communities. The spectrum at 2300 MHz designated for WCS in a recent utilization policy paper dealing with the frequency range 2285-2483.5 MHz (DGTP-003-01), has similar capabilities and anticipated demand as the spectrum for FWA at 3500 MHz. The Department expects that the demand for this spectrum will exceed the available supply in certain areas and that reliance on the marketplace to select licensees will be in the public interest. An auction was therefore selected as the most appropriate licensing process for these two bands. The similarities between the two bands makes a single consultation and licensing process efficient. Where necessary, however, issues specific to one band or the other have been dealt with individually. Interested parties are encouraged to provide comments to the Department on the various issues discussed in this consultation paper.

Once the consultation process is complete, the final policy and licensing procedures document will be published detailing the spectrum policy decisions, the spectrum auction rules, and the specifics on post-auction licensing procedures for these frequency bands.

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2. Telecommunications Policy Objectives

The Minister, in exercising his discretionary powers under the Radiocommunication Act, may have regard to the policy objectives set out in the Telecommunications Act. The Telecommunications Act establishes several objectives of particular relevance to wireless telecommunications services that can be provided using WCS and FWA. These objectives include:

  • to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness, at the national and international levels, of Canadian telecommunications;
  • to render reliable and affordable telecommunications services of high quality accessible to Canadians in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;
  • to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services and to ensure that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective; and,
  • to respond to the economic and social requirements of users of telecommunications services.

It is also noted that in the Speech from the Throne 2001, the Government has committed to work with the private sector to achieve the goal of making broadband access widely available to citizens, businesses, public institutions and to all communities by 2004.

It is clear that the telecom industry must play a key role in advancing this goal. At present, Canadians enjoy one of the world's highest levels of telephone penetration (99%), nearly 80% availability of basic cable TV and 75% availability of high speed Internet service.

With the release of this spectrum the Department is making an important step towards fulfilling the Government of Canada's goal.

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3. Spectrum Policy for WCS Band - 2300 MHz (2305 - 2320 MHz and 2345 - 2360 MHz)

3.1 Background

In March 2000, the Department released a consultation paper entitled Proposed Revisions to the Spectrum Utilization Policy (SP 1-20 GHz) for Services in the Band 2285-2483.5 MHz under Gazette Notice No. DGTP-003-00. One of the proposals included the alignment of the bands 23052320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz with the United States for WCS applications.

In the U.S., WCS is described as radiocommunications that may provide a range of services to individuals and businesses. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued licences in April 1997 through an auction process in 126 markets and to 176 individual winners. Initial expectations suggested that the WCS would be used to provide a variety of services. Current activity is focussed on multipoint fixed wireless access applications with considerable interest in offering high-speed access services to residential and business customers.

The public submissions to the consultation process supported the designation for WCS and encouraged the Department to proceed expeditiously to license. The Department subsequently designated this spectrum for WCS services in June 2001 in the document Revisions to the Spectrum Utilization Policy for Services in the Frequency Range 2285 – 2483.5 MHz (DGTP-003-01).

"The spectrum in the bands 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz is re-assigned from conventional microwave radio systems (point-to-point) to Wireless Communication Service applications."

The Revisions document (DGTP-003-01) recognizes that the defining line between fixed and mobile services is becoming less distinct in some scenarios envisaged for local broadband networks. Provision for applications which have elements of both services, depending on the user location or situation, are included in several broadband requirements. The Department wishes to provide full flexibility for the development of local broadband networks in this band and does not want to predetermine or prescribe the type of commercial services to be offered. However, Industry Canada envisages that the spectrum designated for WCS services will be used predominantly for the provision of local broadband access applications in fixed service point-to-multipoint configurations.

As outlined in Section 7.1, suitable technical rules will need to be adopted which facilitate interference free operation between systems, services and operating areas.

3.2 Proposed Band Plan for the WCS Spectrum at 2300 MHz

In 1997, the U.S. auctioned WCS Spectrum in 5 MHz blocks. Immediately following the auctions there was very little activity, however more recently the spectrum has been consolidated into larger blocks.

With the increasing interest in Canada to have sufficient spectrum to facilitate a strong business case for wireless services, the Department proposes making this spectrum (2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz) available in one paired block of 15+15 MHz for WCS service.

Preliminary views from industry on equipment technology indicate that segmenting the band in blocks less than the 15+15 MHz proposed would not be spectrum efficient (e.g. guard band requirements) and may be insufficient to support strong business plans.

A diagram of the band is included in Appendix A.

Table 1 - 2300 MHz Frequency Block Pair of 15+15 MHz
Paired Block Lower Frequency Block
(MHz)
Upper Frequency Block
(MHz)
A/A' 2305-2320 2345-2360

Comments on the proposed spectrum band plan are invited.

3.3 Incumbents in the 2300 MHz Band

3.3.1 Mobile Aeronautical Telemetry in the Band 2300-2360 MHz

In the consultation paper on the spectrum utilization policy in the band 2285-2483.5 MHz (DGTP-03-00) Industry Canada established a moratorium on any further licensing of new fixed and mobile systems (in particular, Mobile Aeronautical Telemetry Systems or MATS) in the band 2285-2360 MHz. The Department at that time designated the band 2360-2400 MHz for MATS service for use by the Government of Canada. The paper requested comments on the issue of retaining the MATS designation around major military bases of the Department of Defence and vicinities in the band 2300-2360 MHz on a secondary basis.

The Department subsequently made policy provisions for MATS operation on a secondary basis in the band 2285 - 2360 MHz in June 2001 in the document Revisions to the Spectrum Utilization Policy for Services in the Frequency Range 2285 – 2483.5 MHz (DGTP-003-01).

"Where MATS does not impact the implementation of WCS and other services, it may be authorized to the Department of National Defence, on a secondary basis, on major military bases and vicinities, in the band 2300-2360 MHz. However, if required, the Department of National Defence would have to cease MATS operation upon notification from the Department of Industry. The operation of MATS in the band 2320-2345 MHz is also subject to the conditions of the Canada/U.S. agreement on coordination with U.S. DARS."

A list of Canadian military bases where MATS operate is available at Industry Canada's Web site at: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf05518.html

3.3.2 Fixed Systems in Bands 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz

The paired bands 2290-2350 MHz and 2390-2450 MHz have been used for fixed service applications. With the release of Spectrum Utilization Policy 1-20 GHz (SP 1-20 GHz) in January 1995, the Department changed the designation to pair the bands 2290-2360 MHz and 2520-2590 MHz for low-capacity (LC) and subscriber radio systems (SRS). Since that time, a number of spectrum policy decisions have limited the availability of these bands for LC, SRS and MATS. In the document Amendments to the Microwave Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 1-3 GHz Frequency Range (SP 1-3 GHz), accommodation was made for LC systems in the band 2025-2110 MHz paired with 2200-2285 MHz. SRS systems were also accommodated in these bands in remote and distant rural areas, under the Geographical Differences Policy Guideline outlined in SP 1-20 GHz.

Currently in the band 2305 - 2320 MHz there are approximately 175 frequency assignments with 120 of those assignments held by 2 companies. These two licensees have systems which are mostly located in BC and in Ontario. In the band 2345 - 2360 MHz there are approximately 41 assignments used by 6 licensees, with 3 of those licensees holding 35 of the assignments. Two of these licensees have systems which are situated in BC while the third licensee has systems located mostly in Quebec.

In order to accommodate WCS applications, it is proposed that existing fixed systems licensed in the bands 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz be subject to displacement under the transition policy provisions and timing described in Section 5.2.

Interested parties can locate the frequency assignments licensed to incumbents that may be impacted in this process through a search of our radio frequency licensee database at Industry Canada's Web site at: http://spectrumdirect.ic.gc.ca/engdoc/main.html

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