Decisions on a Band Plan for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Consultation on a Policy and Technical Framework to License Spectrum in the Band 2500-2690 MHz

Part A – Decisions on Band Plan and Mapping of Incumbents to the New Band Plan (Continued)

2. Mapping of Incumbents into the BRS Band Plan (Continued)

2.3 Mapping of Incumbents in Regions where both the MCS and MDS Spectrum have been Licensed (except in Manitoba)

In Saskatchewan, SaskTel is the current MCS licence holder. The MDS licence was held by YourLink and has subsequently been transferred to Inukshuk. In Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Inukshuk (the former MCS licence holder) currently holds a BRS licence in the bands 2500–2535 MHz and 2568–2596 MHz, as well as an interim MCS licence in the band 2535–2568 MHz.

In parts of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Inukshuk (the former MDS licence holder) also holds a BRS licence in the bands 2596–2657MHz. Other MDS authorizations are currently held by Val Gagné Communications in certain areas of Ontario and by Cablevision T.R.P. Inc. in certain areas of Quebec.

The Department consulted on methods to reorganize the incumbents in the band plan:

  1. through voluntary agreements which rely on market forces and mutually beneficial solutions instead of the Department imposing a solution;
  2. through the direct reassignment of spectrum licences by the Department; in this case, the MCS and MDS incumbents would be mapped into the new band plan, resulting in each licensee holding 20 + 20 MHz of paired spectrum.

Comments were sought on whether government intervention is required where there are different MCS and MDS incumbents in the same geographic areas. Inukshuk, TELUS, SaskTel, YourLink and the RABC supported the approach to rely on voluntary agreements, unless a situation arises where government intervention becomes necessary. In support of this approach, SaskTel and YourLinkFootnote 15 (the respective MCS and MDS incumbents in Saskatchewan) indicated that they had developed a good working relationship and were already discussing the issues, options and alternatives for transitioning the networks of both SaskTel and YourLink to the new band plan. On the other hand, Pacomm and QMI recommended that the government directly reassign the bands.

The Department notes that, regardless of whether a reassignment of licences is required, the amount of spectrum available for auction will not be affected. The only available spectrum for auction will be the returned spectrum (i.e. 2540–2570 MHz and 2660–2690 MHz).

Industry Canada, therefore, supports the approach to allow the MCS and MDS incumbents to reconfigure their current spectrum holdings through voluntary agreements in the bands 2500–2540 MHz and 2570–2660 MHz. The Department, however, recognizes that government intervention could be required should voluntary agreements not be reachable by incumbent operators. In such cases, the Department may intervene, upon request by any incumbent operator, and reassign licences in order to effect the band plan (shown in Figure 9 below) and transition timeline.

2.3.1 Physical Migration Date
2.3.1.1 Bands 2450–2570 MHz and 2660–2690 MHz

SaskTel and YourLink each indicated that it would take up to three years to complete the transition, due to both their extensive existing network deployments across Saskatchewan and to the complexities of planning and coordinating the transition of both networks to the new band plan without disrupting service to customers.

As mentioned, Industry Canada recognizes the challenges associated with the physical migration of existing systems and their impact on users. In order to minimize such impact, the Department agrees that existing systems will not be required to be displaced unless and until it becomes necessary. Therefore, it has been decided that the transition policy included in Section 2.3.2 will apply. Accordingly, incumbent licensees are advised to begin planning and implementing their migration plan in a timely manner.

2.3.1.2 Bands 2500–2540 MHz and 2570–2660 MHz (where displacement notice is required)

As discussed above, in the bands 2500–2540 MHz and 2570–2660 MHz, incumbents will be permitted to reconfigure their current spectrum holdings through voluntary agreements. Affected operators are encouraged to come to mutually acceptable arrangements that include considerations on physical migration date(s) in these bands. In the absence of an agreement, the Department may, upon request by any affected incumbent, be asked to intervene. In such case, the transition policy included in Section 2.3.2 will apply.

2.3.2 Decisions
Decisions applicable to Region B in Appendix A:

3-1 In areas (shown as Region B in Appendix A) where both the MCS and MDS spectrum have been licensed (except in Manitoba), new BRS licences based on the BRS band plan shown in Figure 8 below will apply.

Figure 8 – BRS band plan, in areas where incumbents hold both MCS and MDS spectrum as of April 1, 2011

Figure 8 – BRS band plan, in areas where incumbents hold both MCS and MDS spectrum as of April 1, 2011  (the long description is located below the image)

3-2 BRS licences authorizing the use of bands 2500–2540 MHz and 2570–2660 MHz will be issued to eligible incumbents.

3-3 The bands 2540–2570MHz and 2660–2690MHz (30 + 30 MHz of paired spectrum) are to be licensed by the Department as set out in Part B of this paper.

3-4 Operations of stations by incumbent licensees in the bands 2540–2570MHz and 2660–2690MHz (see also Section 2.5 of this paper) are subject to the following conditions:

Incumbent systems in the bands 2540–2570MHz and 2660–2690MHz are permitted to continue to operate, but are subject to displacement. Industry Canada may issue a displacement notice on the following basis:

  1. Where a BRS licensee planning to deploy its services in its authorized spectrum identifies specific incumbent station(s) that may prevent their deployment, the BRS licensee can approach the Department with an identification of the areas, the spectrum required and time frames for their deployment that will be affected by an incumbent station(s). Industry Canada will examine the submission and may issue a displacement notice requiring the incumbent licensee to cease or migrate all or part of its operations in order to provide for the timely deployment of BRS systems by the BRS licensee.
  2. The following minimum notification periods will apply:
    1. For incumbent systems operating in all areas within Region B, incumbent stations subject to displacement will be afforded a minimum of a six-month notification period.
  3. Voluntary agreements between the BRS licensees and the incumbent licensees may provide for earlier displacement or for the continued operation of the incumbent systems.

3-5 In the bands 2500–2540MHz and 2570–2660MHz , incumbents are encouraged to enter into voluntary agreements that would facilitate the use of paired spectrum consistent with the BRS band plan (as shown in Figure 5). Such agreements are to be submitted to Industry Canada for approval; new BRS spectrum licences will be issued accordingly.

3-6 The affected parties may request that the Department intervene should they fail to come to an agreement as per Decision 3-5 above. In such cases, the Department may reassign licences in order to effect the band plan as shown in Figure 9. Incumbents will be afforded a minimum of a six-month notification period to migrate their systems to the BRS band plan.

Figure 9 – BRS band plan (where Industry Canada is required to intervene to facilitate the use of paired spectrum)

Figure 9 – BRS band plan (where Industry Canada is required to intervene to facilitate the use of paired spectrum) (the long description is located below the image)
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