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)

2.4 Manitoba (shown as Region C in Appendix A)

In DGSO-001-10, Industry Canada announced its decision to grandfather all site-specific MCS licences (see Appendix B) in Manitoba (shown as Region C in Appendix A). The BRS licence in the band 2596–2657 MHz is currently held by Inukshuk.

In DGSO-001-10, the Department sought comments on its proposal to mandate the exchange of 20 MHz of the MDS spectrum for 20 MHz of the MCS spectrum.

QMI supported the Department's proposal to mandate the exchange of 20 MHz of the MDS spectrum for 20 MHz of the MCS spectrum, but pointed out the difficulties which could be caused by the maintenance of certain site-specific licences. The RABC, SaskTel and TELUS were of the view that Industry Canada should make all efforts to align the overall use of spectrum with the ITU band plan, which emphasizes the maximization of paired spectrum. However, TELUS maintained that, since incumbents should only retain 30 MHz of spectrum, any mandatory exchange would be of 15 MHz rather than 20 MHz.

MTS Allstream did not specifically comment on the Department's proposed reassignment of licences. Rather, it objected to the decision to grandfather MCS site-specific licences in Manitoba and recommended that the existing MCS licensees in Manitoba be subject to a transition policy to return the MCS spectrum before the planned BRS auction. MTS Allstream contended that indefinite grandfathering overlooks several cost-effective, innovative alternatives to meet the school divisions' needs and proposed to work cooperatively with the school divisions to provide a more effective solution than that which is provided by their current MCS spectrum.

The Department is of the view that a mandatory assignment of a new spectrum licences based on the "exchange" of spectrum usage as described above will facilitate the transition to the new band plan in a timely manner. This approach would also provide for paired spectrum for incumbent(s), which would be consistent with the proposed new band plan.

With respect to MTS Allstream's objections to the grandfathering of site-specific licences in Manitoba, the Department notes that these issues were taken into consideration in the formulation of its June 2010 decision and maintains that the decision with respect to grandfathering site-specific licences in Manitoba remains appropriate. The Department encourages the affected parties to work cooperatively to find mutually acceptable solutions to address their needs.

The following sections (sections 2.4.1 to 2.4.2) do not apply to site-specific licences in Manitoba.

2.4.1 Physical Migration Date – Band 2620–2640 MHz

As discussed previously, the Department recognizes the challenges associated with the physical migration of existing systems and their impact on users. However, to enable the orderly planning and deployment of BRS radio systems, no fixed deadline for the completion of all spectrum exchanges or transactions and physical migration of systems will be imposed at this time. The Department agrees that sufficient time should be given to incumbents in order to update or replace the existing MCS and MDS radio systems with new systems based on the new BRS band plan and new broadband technologies, including the transition of current users to new systems. However, the Department also recognizes that a prolonged migration time can prevent the deployment of new BRS systems. Therefore, it has been decided that the transition policy included in Section 2.4.2 will apply. Accordingly, incumbent licensees are advised to begin planning and implementing their migration plan in a timely manner.

2.4.2 Decisions
Decisions applicable to Region C in Appendix A:

4-1 In Manitoba (shown as Region C in Appendix A), new BRS licences based on an "exchange" of licences authorizing spectrum usage as shown in Figure 11 will apply.

Figure 10 — Spectrum before spectrum exchange in Manitoba

Figure 10 — Spectrum before spectrum exchange in Manitoba (the long description is located below the image)

Figure 11 – BRS band plan in Manitoba, as of April 1, 2011

>Figure 11 – BRS band plan in Manitoba, as of April 1, 2011  (the long description is located below the image)

4-2 BRS licences authorizing the use of bands 2520–2540 MHz , 2595–2620 MHz and 2640–2660 MHz will be issued to eligible incumbents.

4-3 The bands 2500–2520 MHz and 2620–2640 MHz (20+20 MHz of paired spectrum), 2540–2570 MHz and 2660–2690 MHz (30 + 30 MHz of paired spectrum), and 2570–2595 MHz (25 MHz of unpaired spectrum) are to be licensed by the Department as set out in Part B of this paper.

4-4 Operations of stations by incumbent licensees in the band 2620–2640 MHz (see also Section 2.5 of this paper) are subject to the following conditions:

Incumbent systems in the band 2620–2640 MHz 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 systems operating in all areas within Region C, 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.

2.5 Interim MCS Licence and Deployment of Services during the Migration Period to the New BRS Band Plan

Although not an issue raised in DGSO-001-10, QMI argued that incumbents in the 2500 MHz band should be prevented from launching new mobile services until after the 2500 MHz auction. In reply comments, TELUS supported such a moratorium, whereas Inukshuk submitted that such a "no head start" rule is entirely unnecessary. Inukshuk pointed out that QMI already holds mobile spectrum licences and is free to implement advanced new mobile broadband services at any time within its licensed territory.

Industry Canada is of the view that, consistent with the 2006 Policy, incumbents should be allowed to deploy new mobile services at any time, so long as they comply with the provisions set out in their current licences. The Department will not impose a moratorium on the deployment of new mobile services by incumbent licensees in bands where incumbents are eligible to obtain new BRS licences in accordance with this decision. However, for the frequency bands that are "returned spectrum," the Department is of the view that no new services (i.e. expansion of existing systems or new mobile service) should be permitted, in order to ensure an orderly transition to the new BRS band plan. The Department notes that during the period when incumbents will be migrating their systems to the new BRS band plan, they may be issued interim annually renewable MCS licences in order to use bands that are part of the "returned spectrum."

Decision:

5-1 In the returned spectrum bands within each specific geographic area, incumbents will be issued interim MCS licences, renewable on an annual basis. As part of the licensing conditions of the interim MCS licence, incumbents will not be permitted to expand beyond their current operation in those bands; as well, no mobile service will be permitted.

2.6 Other Incumbents

2.6.1 Incumbents' Fixed Systems in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec

In June 1999, through DGRB-006-99, the Department issued Multipoint Communications Systems in the 2500 MHz Range, Policy and Licensing Procedures. This paper included provisions to make available the 2500 MHz band for MCS. In addition, there were provisions dealing with the treatment of incumbent fixed systems in the band. Some of these systems remain in operation in Calgary, Alberta, and certain areas of British Columbia and Quebec (see Appendix C).

Currently, there is one system in operation in the band 6–2690 MHz in Calgary. Pursuant to DGRB-006-99, this system was provided with four years of protection (beginning in 1999), with a minimum notification period of two years before potential displacement. Upon request by an MCS licensee, the Department would have provided the incumbent licensee with a notice of displacement where necessary.

In British Columbia and Quebec, there are some systems in operation in the frequency range 2525.5–2588.25 MHz. These systems were permitted to continue their operation unless their presence precluded the establishment of an MCS system. In such cases, a displacement period of two years to vacate the band was provided.

The Department notes that, to date, it has not received any request from incumbent MCS licensees to displace any of the systems in Alberta, British Columbia or Quebec.

Therefore, the Department has decided that the transition policy included in Section 2.6.3 will apply.

2.6.2 CRTC Licence-Exempt Broadcasting Stations

Pursuant to DGSO-001-10, CRTC licence-exempt broadcasting stations in rural areas will not be eligible for conversion to BRS and are subject to the transition policy set out in DGSO-001-10, Section 5.1.4, repeated below. These stations (as of November 2010) are listed in Appendix D.

"CRTC licence-exempt broadcasting stations in rural areas will not be eligible for conversion to BRS and will be subject to a transition policy whereby:

  • they may continue to operate in accordance with their current authorization;
  • no additional authorizations in spectrum or geographic area will be considered by the Department;
  • should the MDS operation prevent the deployment of a BRS system, the BRS licensee must identify to Industry Canada the stations and frequencies that may prevent its BRS deployment;
  • Industry Canada will notify the MDS operator and the latter may continue to operate for up to two years following the date of the notice; and
  • after the two-year notification period, the MDS operator must vacate the spectrum or operate on a no-protection, non-interference basis."
2.6.3 Decisions
Decisions:

6-1 Operation of fixed systems by incumbent fixed service (FS) licensees in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec (see Appendix C) are subject to the following conditions:

Incumbent fixed systems 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 fixed 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 fixed station(s). Industry Canada will examine the submission and may issue a displacement notice requiring the incumbent fixed station 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 Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, fixed stations subject to displacement will be afforded a minimum of a two-year notification period.
  3. Voluntary agreements between the new licensees and the incumbents FS licensees may provide for earlier displacement or for the continued operation of the FS systems.
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