Study of Future Demand for Radio Spectrum in Canada 2011-2015

6.4 Broadcasting Services

6.4.1 Overview

This section covers television, FM radio and DTH Satellite.

Over-the-AirTelevision

Major developments are expected to continue to take place in over-the-air (OTA) television broadcasting with the transition to digital technology, from production to delivery of signals, over the next five years.

The benchmark established by the CRTC for converting standard analogue OTA TV broadcasting stations to digital television (DTV) in large markets (populations more than 300,000), provincial and territory capitals and Ottawa occurred on August 31, 2011. The new DTV allotment plan provides a digital channel to each TV broadcasting station below 698 MHz or TV channel below 52. A total of 526 standard-power TV stations and 871 low-power TV (LPTV) stations operate in the VHF broadcasting band; and 231 TV stations and 476 LPTV stations operate in the UHF bands. Within the 6 MHz, which is the digital channel assigned to each broadcasting station, the broadcaster may have the flexibility to operate an HDTV program with some ancillary program services, such as mobile TV, or two standard-digital TV (SDTV) programs or other combinations, including two programs each from different broadcaster entities. In Europe and the U.S., broadcasters are pursuing the development of OTA mobile TV broadcasting, using capacity within the channel assigned to their station. In large market areas and along the U.S. border (in the vicinity of large U.S. cities, such as Detroit, Chicago, etc.), the broadcasting spectrum below 698 MHz is heavily used, thus, leaving just a few spare channels for growth in Canada.

The implementation of digital broadcasting technology brings significant spectrum efficiency and substantial capacity within the new TV allotment plan below channel 52. Digital-emission technology, with proper compression, significantly increases programming transmission and enables the use of additional allotments (in comparison to unused taboo channels prevailing with analogue), the support of higher-definition programs and other signals within a 6 MHz channel. The main consideration is how the demand for more OTA services will be accommodated within the new allotment plan. Cable TV and satellite broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDU) account for more than 90% of the household broadcasting distribution (approximately 11.3 millions) according to the CRTC CMR Report for 2009. The top four cable TV BDUs and two DTH BDUs provide 89% of all BDU subscribers in 2009. Approximately 25% of these BDU subscribers receive their services from DTH and MDS facilities. A growing number of Canadians use the Internet to watch some video programming. Although OTA TV broadcasting serves less than 10% of Canadian households, it is an important component of the broadcasting system.

FM Radio

The FM radio-broadcasting band (88-108 MHz) supports 1450 standard-power FM stations and 900 low-power FM stations across Canada. In large-market areas, the availability of allotments for new stations has reached exhaustion (e.g. Toronto) or is near exhaustion. The proximity to large U.S. cities also decreases the availability of FM allotment channels Footnote 25.

In the 1990s, Canada endeavoured to develop a new generation of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) technology in the L-band (1452-1492 MHz) with some other countries, but, due to lack of affordable equipment and lack of synergy with the U.S. marketplace, DAB was not realized. The U.S. adopted an in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital solution, where, initially, a digital broadcasting signal is multiplexed with the existing FM or AM signal within the existing analogue channel and then, eventually, a full digitization of the bandwidth would take place. This approach is being gradually implemented in the U.S. and will provide additional programming service capacity with the existing AM and FM broadcasting bands. The Canadian broadcasters have been given full flexibility to pursue a similar strategy for a transition to digital radio broadcasting.

Although the introduction of new OTA broadcasting services is driven, in part, by the prospect of market demand, the implementation is very much controlled by the CRTC, which oversees and authorizes any new broadcasting undertaking, often assessing against limited spare broadcasting channels and using a competitive process. The merit and benefit of new programming applications to the CRTC and the sustainability and impact of the new stations on existing OTA stations in the areas influences the service demand and spare channels allotment.

The approval of new OTA TV stations and FM station is determined by the CRTC, which bases its decision on a number of programming objectives contained in the Broadcasting Act and in a set of broadcasting regulations. Although there may be a perceived demand for new commercial or educational broadcasting stations for a particular type of programming, applications must go through a rigorous public hearing process before the CRTC renders decisions. The growth of OTA broadcasting stations is influenced by the availability and the type of subscription on Broadcasting Distribution Undertaking (BDU) and by the broadcasting objectives, and not primarily just on market demand.

DTH Satellite Broadcasting

DTH Satellite broadcasting delivers hundreds of television and radio programming services to about 2.7 million home subscribers. Close to 90% of Canadian homes (or 11.3 million homes) received their television services from cable TV and DTH satellite broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs). It is estimated that less than 10% of Canadian households receive their television services from OTA television stations.

Canada has been operating two DTH satellite BDUs since the late 1990s, and each operator offered hundreds of television and radio programs to their subscribers. This includes the programs of national, regional and local OTA stations; groups of specialty channels; pay-per-view and movie channels; and national and regional radio stations and other audio services. DTH satellites compress these analogue and digital programming signals, using MPEG 2 and offer various service plans in both standard-definition television (SDTV) and high-definition TV (HDTV) digital format to a home set-top box and small dish antenna.

Over the years, the two DTH satellite operators have developed their respective television program lineup and secured long-term DTH satellite facilities from independent satellite network operators. One DTH operator has secured its satellite's capacity in two orbital-spectrum resource units at 91 degrees and 85 degrees longitude west, for an equivalent capacity of 64 satellite transponders in the Ku-bands (12/17 GHz broadcasting satellite bands). The other DTH satellite operator has secured satellite capacity in the equivalent to 1.5 orbital-spectrum resource units at 111.1 degree longitude west, for an equivalent of 36 satellite transponders in the Ku-bands (11/18 GHz fixed satellite bands). An orbital-spectrum resource unit is equivalent to 500 MHz spectrum in an orbital position for downlink services to the subscribers. (It is noted that interleave transponders operating in one polarization partially overlay the adjacent transponders operating at a different polarization in the 500 MHz band. This approach permits a satellite orbital-spectrum resource to enhance the satellite capacity to up to 800 MHz of throughput operating spectrum.)

In an effort to keep similar information together regarding satellite information, the full description of satellite communication spectrum-orbital resource, the Inventory Report, the stakeholders' inputs and other analyses is contained in the Satellite Section (Section 6.5) of this Study. This includes the relevant information on DTH satellite. However, as DTH satellites are used for the broadcasting market, this Study covers DTH satellite-spectrum demand modelling within this Broadcasting Services section.

6.4.2 Spectrum Inventory and Spectrum Utilization

The Inventory Report provides the following overview of the broadcasting environment in Canada.

Over-the air (OTA) Television Broadcasting
(53 – 72 MHz, 76 - 88 MHz, 174–216 MHz, 470 – 806 MHz)

As of June 2010, there were 2079 analogue TV stations in Canada: 732 regular and 1347 low power, as shown in the table, below, from the Inventory Report.

Figure 6.4.1 — Distribution of OTA TV stations, by region

Distribution of OTA TV stations, by region (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Inventory Report

Description of Figure 6.4.1

This chart depicts the distribution of OTA TV stations by providing the numbers of stations across each region: Pacific, Prairies and Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic. The information contained in the figure is approximated in the following table:

Distribution of OTA TV stations, by region
Pacific Prairies/ Northwest Territories Ontario Quebec Atlantic
All stations ~ 600 ~480 ~475 ~250 ~310
Regular Stations ~100 ~200 ~195 ~150 ~215
Low-Power Stations ~500 ~280 ~280 ~100 ~95

Major users include CBC/Radio-Canada (668 stations), The Ontario Educational Communications Authority (TV Ontario) (267 stations), CTV Television (122 stations), Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (94 stations) and CanWest Television (89 stations). There were 183 unique TV broadcasting station owners, 37 for regular stations only.

FM Radio (88 – 108 MHz)

A review is made of the actual FM allotments in large-market centres to determine occupancy, the progress of in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital technology by the American FM broadcasters, and any plan of Canadian broadcasters to move to digital technology. The potential of IBOC technology to increase the number of programs and ancillary services is also assessed.

As of June 2010, there were 2349 FM stations operating in Canada: 1456 regular and 893 low-power stations, as shown in the table, below, from the Inventory Report.

Figure 6.4.2 — Distribution of FM radio stations, by region

Distribution of FM radio stations, by region (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Inventory Report

Description of Figure 6.4.2

This chart depicts the distribution of FM radio stations by providing the numbers of stations across each region: Pacific, Prairies and Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic. The information in the figure is approximated in the following table:

Distribution of FM radio stations, by region
Pacific Prairies/ Northwest Territories Ontario Quebec Atlantic
All stations ~ 550 ~600 ~465 ~450 ~300
Regular Stations ~255 ~340 ~325 ~340 ~215
Low-Power Stations ~295 ~260 ~140 ~110 ~85

Major users include CBC/Radio-Canada (560 stations), Astral Media (62 stations), Rogers Broadcasting (60 stations), Native Communications (56 stations), Newcap (51 stations) and Northern Native Broadcasting (51 stations). There were 672 unique FM broadcasting station owners, 334 for regular stations only.

6.4.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Input from stakeholders and observations from interviews are summarized below:

  • According to input from the broadcasting industry participants, in-band-on-channel (IBOC) technology in the FM band, adopted from the U.S., presents some concerns. Also, there is some ongoing debate over the power level of digital signals as compared with the analogue signal.
  • Some stakeholders feel IBOC HD is likely to be the right choice for the Canadian radio industry. However, to ensure this, testing should be conducted to confirm for a smooth transition to digital of FM radio stations, while concurrently ensuring that adjacent analogue stations will not experience interference.
  • One major broadcaster is planning to implement 27 DTV digital stations in mandatory markets, but does not intend to convert its remaining over-the-air television networks.
  • CRTC rules for the digital transition merely provide for the minimum of OTA television stations, which must be converted to digital. It is expected that 75 to 100 OTA stations will have been converted to digital by the mandated date of August 31, 2011. As for stations in smaller markets, it is impossible to predict the period of time required to convert these OTA stations to digital.
  • In Canada, a 50% conversion rate (OTA analogue to OTA digital) is realistic, given that there are no set-top box subsidies.
  • OTA TV reception may not increase, as a percentage of Canadian households, given the existing dominance of cable and DTH BDUs, as well as their growing Internet services.
  • According to some projections, OTA TV households will continue to slowly migrate to subscription TV services, and OTA TV will gradually decline from 10% in 2009 to 4% in 2012. However, there seems to be a renewed interest in OTA DTV. Interest in watching TV on a mobile phone is growing. In 2010, 19% of Anglophones and 14% of Francophones showed interest in watching TV on a mobile phone.
  • Some broadcasters believe that there is a continued requirement for DAB channels at L-band for specialized, ethnic, community, campus, public and commercial programming. Also, they are of the view that the L-band DAB should be licenced for wideband multimedia services, which would include a local DRB/DMB component, and the traditional broadcasting licence should be retained.
  • It has been noted that, according to stakeholders' input, the radio industry would support a North American-wide reallocation of TV channels 5 and 6 (76-88 MHz) for a new, digital-only radio band.
  • Radio Data System (RDS) is a communications protocol standard for embedding small amounts of digital information in conventional FM radio broadcasts. The RDS system standardizes several types of transmitted information, including time, station identification and program information.

Spectrum Utilization

Table 6.4.1 — Data compiled from Industry Canada DTV-Post Transition Allotment Plan identifies assignment for a minimum of nine OTA TV channels
DTV (post-T) NTSC T-DTV City Station
2 Montreal un-assigned
6 Montreal un-assigned
10 10 59 Montreal CFTM-TV
12 12 21 Montreal CFCF-TV
15 Montreal un-assigned
19 2 19 Montreal CBFT
21 6 20 Montreal CBMT
26 17 27 Montreal CIVM-TV
29 29 54 Montreal CFTU-TV
35 35 42 Montreal CFJP-TV
36 Montreal un-assigned
49 62 69 Montreal CJNT-TV
51 46 51 Montreal CKMI-TV-1
------- ------- ------- ------- -------
5 Toronto un-assigned
8 Toronto un-assigned
9 9 40 Toronto CFTO-TV
19 19 51 Toronto CICA-TV
20 5 20 Toronto CBLT
21 Toronto un-assigned
25 25 24 Toronto CBLFT
30 Toronto un-assigned
40 52 66 Toronto CKXT-TV
41 41 65 Toronto CIII-TV-41
44 69 44 Toronto CJMT-TV
47 47 64 Toronto CFMT-TV
51 57 53 Toronto CITY-TV

Source: Industry Canada


The Figure 6.4.3, below (Inventory Report, section 6.4), shows the growth in broadcasting stations over the last six years.

FM radio has seen increases in both regular and low-power operations during the last seven years (26.3% and 19.7%, respectively). This can be partially explained by a number of radio stations converting from AM to FM.

Television has seen increases in regular operations (2.2% analogue and 700% digital) and decreases in low-power operations (9.4%) within the last seven years. The large increase in digital television stations is due to their very low initial numbers and the beginning of the DTV transition.

Figure 6.4.3 — Broadcasting: local and national channels, by technology, 2004-10

Broadcasting: local and national channels, by technology (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Inventory Report

Description of Figure 6.4.3

This figure provides broadcasting trends by providing the numbers of local and national channels, by technology, from 2004 to 2010. The numbers of stations/systems in the figure are approximated in the following table, averaged out for each year and by technology. It is noted that the figure uses a small scale and the numbers are difficult to estimate. Given possible inaccuracies in the numbers, it would be more beneficial to focus on the trends.

Broadcasting: local and national channels, by technology, 2004-10
MDS Reg, D AM LP AM REG TV REG, A TV REG, D TV LP FM REG FM LP
2004 ~40 ~180 ~240 ~720 ~0 ~1480 ~1150 ~750
2005 ~40 ~180 ~240 ~720 ~0 ~1480 ~1180 ~780
2006 ~40 ~180 ~240 ~740 ~0 ~1460 ~1250 ~800
2007 ~40 ~170 ~240 ~740 ~0 ~1440 ~1300 ~810
2008 ~50 ~170 ~240 ~750 ~10 ~1380 ~1350 ~830
2009 ~50 ~160 ~210 ~750 ~20 ~1350 ~1400 ~870
2010 ~50 ~160 ~200 ~750 ~20 ~1350 ~1420 ~900

6.4.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Service Demand: Market Analysis

When modelling the service and spectrum demand, it is important to note some key considerations in relation to OTA TV broadcasting in Canada, as highlighted below.

The model for spectrum demand under a digital broadcasting system assesses the capacity of 6 MHz channels to accommodate a range of simultaneous broadcasting offerings from HDTV, 3D-HDTV, SDTV, mobile TV and other distributive IP-based services.

As noted, more than 90% of Canadian households receive TV signals by cable or DTH satellite. However, for public policy reasons, OTA TV broadcasting will continue to be available from a number of stations.

Service demand considerations: In preparing the forecast of the demand for OTA TV spectrum, consideration needs to be given to the regulatory regime, the number of stations in operation per market and the capacity of the 6 MHz digital channel (19.3 Mbps). These are the factors that will govern TV broadcasting from 2010 to 2015. Broadcasters will want to respond to the emerging market needs to offer High-Definition TV, 3D HDTV, mobile TV, Standard-Definition TV and other service opportunities.

Regulatory-driven demand considerations: The CRTC's regulations will decide, in part, how many OTA SD, HDTV and mobile TV channels will be broadcast. The Advanced Television Standard Committee's (ATSC) current timelines for implementing digital TV for standard-power stations are:

  1. major markets, provincial and territorial capital cities,
  2. areas with population more than 300,000; and,
  3. other areas where there is more than one local TV station broadcasting OTA signal.

The OTA signal in these areas must be transmitting a standard-definition digital signal as of August 31, 2011.

Spectrum demand considerations: Converting a quasi-market demand for OTA TV will need to take into account the technology options, as well as the market demand and regulatory regime in place.

The North American digital standard is based on the ATSC's set of standard requirements, which provide a means for TV stations to upgrade to digital TV, including the transmission of HDTV and 3D HDTV. As such, the usual configuration is for a multiplexer to accommodate a single HDTV stream, plus one or two extra SDTV programs. Up to 6 SD (standard definition) TV programs could be accommodated by a 6 MHz OTA channel operating a 19.3 Mbps channel.

Table 6.4.2 — Capabilities of a 6 MHz channel or a 19.4 Mbps payload
Program/digital bit rate (Mbps) Bit rate required (Mbps) Payload
0.4 Mbps PSIP -----
4-6 Mbps 2-3 mobile video -----
1-3 Mbps SD multicast Up to 6 SD
12 Mbps Primary HD 1 HD and 2 SDor 1x 3D HD

Source: Spectrum 20/20 Presentation


Industry Canada has coordinated a comprehensive post-transition allotment plan for Canada, plus developed a detailed assignment of the allotments below channel 52 for each of the standard analogue TV stations. The Canadian TV broadcasters now have the frequency allotment resources to convert their analogue stations to digital TV broadcasting. The demand for channels (spectrum) will, therefore, depend on the number of TV channels (SDor HD) that are to be supported, and on any constraints imposed by frequency reuse across Canada and in coordination with the U.S.

The Study has considered the likely national demand for TV channels under the established DTV allotment plan in large markets, such as Toronto and Montreal, and identified the requirements, in terms of the range of potential broadcasting service offerings across Canada.

For terrestrial broadcasting — OTA Digital TV, and Analogue and Digital FM radio — there are two further important assumptions that should be borne in mind:

  • A cap, or constraint, is applied to reflect the amount of available spectrum within the bands that each technology can use. For OTA TV, and for FM radio, this effectively caps the demand for spectrum at the current allocation.
  • A suitable factor for frequency reuse (generally 5, for those broadcasting technologies that require frequency reuse) is then applied to get from the spectrum required to serve one local area in isolation (and ignoring cross-border interference), to get to a National figure of spectrum demand for Canada.

The Figure 6.4.4, below, shows the growth projections for the number of national-equivalent channels of each type of broadcasting services — OTA TV, FM Radio and DTH satellite (log scale). As the focus in this Report is on assessing the demand for spectrum, the figures are given in national-equivalent channels, i.e. with regional channels and licences aggregated to give a national-equivalent figure.

The projected pattern is as follows:

  • Some traffic growth is observed in DTH Satellite TV services for Standard-Definition TV (SDTV) and High-Definition TV (HDTV) for the period of 2010-2015.
  • For OTA radio and TV services, the view is that demand generally remains at the current level.

There are two further possibilities for OTA Broadcasting, although, in this Study, they are not projected to occur within the 2015 timeframe:

  • Demand for commercial OTA TV broadcasting may be reduced, if there is a large decline in the number of households it serves. In these circumstances, the economics of serving the market may drive some operators to merge or reduce their OTA broadcasting services.
  • Demand for OTA radio spectrum may alter — either an increase, if further spectrum becomes available — particularly if this becomes an international frequency plan, with corresponding economies of scale, which reduce equipment costs. Or, the demand may decrease, if users switch to streaming audio via other technologies, such as over fixed broadband, cellular or satellite.

Figure 6.4.4 — Traffic volumes: Broadcasting – number of national-equivalent channels

Traffic volumes: Broadcasting – number of national-equivalent channels  (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile Analysis

Description of Figure 6.4.4

This figure provides the broadcast traffic volume in terms of number of national-equivalent channels from 2010 to 2015 by application. For DTH Satellite TV Std Def, the number of channels rises slowly from 951 in 2010 to 1532 by 2015. For DTH Satellite TV – HD, the number of channels rises steadily from 162 in 2010 to 494 by 2015. For ATSC OTA digital channel TV, the number remains constant at 18 channels from 2010 to 2015. For Analogue Radio (FM), the number also remains at 18 channels for the 5 year period. For ATSC OTA for HDTV, the number remains constant at 9 channels for the 5 year period. For Digital Radio in the FM Band, the number of channels, starts at only a couple of channels in 2012, and rises to 9 channels by 2015.


The next figure, 6.4.5, shows the traffic growth, converted into the common units of GB/month, and plotted on a log scale. Again, DTH Satellite Broadcasting shows some growth, and OTA remains constant.

Figure 6.4.5 — Traffic volumes: Broadcasting, in GB/mo

Traffic volumes: Broadcasting, in GB/mo (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile Analysis

Description of Figure 6.4.5

This figure provides the traffic volume in GB/month for broadcasting from 2010 to 2015, by application. For DTH Satellite TV Std Def, the traffic rises slowly from 1.26 million GB/mo in 2010 to 2 million by 2015. For DTH Satellite TV – HD, the traffic rises steadily from 640,000 GB/mo in 2010 to almost 2 million by 2015. For ATSC OTA HDTV, the traffic remains constant at approximately 38,000 GB/mo from 2010 to 2015. For ATSC TV SD Digital and Mobile TV, the traffic remains constant at approximately 20,000 GB/mo for the 5 year period. For Analogue Radio (FM), the traffic remains constant at 673 GB/mo for the 5 year period For Digital Radio in the FM Band, the traffic rises steadily from 84 GB/mo to in 2012, to 420 GB/mo by 2015.


Key Assumptions and Relationship between Service and Spectrum Demand

In this Study, the preferred approach is to focus on a traffic-oriented metric that gives projections on how much spectrum the networks need to carry the traffic to serve consumers.

For Broadcasting services, there is a need to pause briefly to consider the concept of the "demand for spectrum", and to define it further: specifically, whose "demand" should be considered. For this service, unlike the other services, the approach is to project the demand for spectrum calculated from the viewpoint of the spectrum user or network operator, rather than a pure end-consumer viewpointFootnote 26. It represents the spectrum that broadcasting networks require in order to deliver the volume of content they wish to broadcast.

For Broadcasting, there are no major changes expected over the period of 2010-2015 regarding the spectral efficiency of each of the individual technologies or networks. The likelihood of major changes in technology, such as a migration from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4, which would double the spectral efficiency of the networks, has been considered. However, MPEG-4 will not be compatible with the existing base of receivers currently in the hands of the public.

The resulting assessment is that these technological changes are likely to occur, but perhaps not in the time period of the Study, and that any gains from improved codecs or spectral efficiency would likely be absorbed by broadcasting networks migrating their content to higher resolutions and bit rates.

As a result of this, the changes in the demand for spectrum for Broadcasting are wholly driven by changes in traffic volume, and the results are less spectacular than those for the previous services in this Study.

Demand for Spectrum

The projection of the demand for OTA spectrum is shown below. Figure 6.4.6 covers OTA TV, and Figure 6.4.7 covers OTA FM radio.

Demand for spectrum for terrestrial services is projected to remain constant for both TV (270 MHz) and FM radio (20 MHz).

There will be demand for additional FM spectrum as broadcasters seek to provide digital, as well as analogue FM services, and the available spectrum is already congested. The large installed base of devices includes a significant number (i.e. in-vehicle), which cannot easily be switched to accept digital FM signals. This prolongs the requirement for analogue FM capacity to, at least, the end of the period of this study.

In addition to this, there seems to be a suppressed/pent-up demand for additional program channels from broadcasters. This suggests that there would be advantages to increasing the number of channels that FM can deliver to the installed base of devices. The main options for achieving this would seem to be converting to digital technology (noting the issues outlined above regarding the installed base), extending the band, or further reducing the channel spacing.

There are no corresponding issues for OTA TV because the digital switchover was completed in 2011, so analogue TV was excluded from the projections made in this study.

Figure 6.4.6 — Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting – OTA TV

Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting – OTA TV (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile and PA Analysis, and PA PRISM Modelling

Description of Figure 6.4.6

This chart provides the demand for spectrum in MHz required to serve the offered traffic for OTA TV Broadcasting. Demand is divided into spectrum forATSC OTA TV SD Digital + Mobile TV and ATSC OTA HDTV. From 2010 to 2015, spectrum demand for OTA TV remains constant at 273 MHz, with 180 MHz of spectrum for ATSC OTA HDTV and 93 MHz of spectrum for ATSC OTA TV SD Digital + Mobile TV.


Figure 6.4.7 — Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting – FM Radio

Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting – FM Radio (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile and PA Analysis, and PA PRISM Modelling

Description of Figure 6.4.7

This chart provides the demand for spectrum in MHz required to serve the offered traffic for OTA Radio Broadcasting. Demand is divided into spectrum for Digital Radio in FM and Analogue Radio (FM). For Analogue Radio (FM), spectrum demand remains constant at 19 MHz from 2010 to 2015. For Digital Radio FM, spectrum demand is zero for 2010 and 2011, increases slowly from 1 MHz in 2012 and 2013, to 2 MHz in 2014 and 3 MHz in 2015.


For DTH Satellite, Figure 6.4.8 shows that there is growth in demand for spectrum, as measured in the relevant units for satellite, MHz x Orbital SlotsFootnote 27.

The growth in demand is largely fuelled by growth in HDTV, but is supplemented by continuing growth in the demand for a wider range of content channels for Standard-Definition TV.

Figure 6.4.8 — Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting, Satellite TV

Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting, Satellite TV (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile and PA Analysis, and PA PRISM Modelling

Description of Figure 6.4.8

This chart provides the demand for spectrum in MHz required to serve the offered traffic for Satellite Broadcasting. Demand is divided into spectrum for DTH Satellite TV HD and DTH Satellite TV SD. The values in the table are summarized in the following table:

Demand for Spectrum: Broadcasting, Satellite TV
DTH Satellite TV HD DTH Satellite TV SD
2010 221 MHz 642 MHz
2011 276 MHz 706 MHz
2012 345 MHz 776 MHz
2013 431 MHz 854 MHz
2014 539 MHz 939 MHz
2015 674 MHz 1033 MHz

The above projections assume no large-scale shift in encoding, from MPEG2 to MPEG4, over the period of 2010-15. If this were to occur, it could potentially reduce the demand for spectrum by a factor of 2, although it would appear likely that some or all of this would be taken up by broadcasters electing to upgrade more channels to HD (and/or to 3D), or to add more channels at SD.

Assessment of Alternative Scenarios

The projections given above are for Scenario 1, Business as Usual (BAU), which constitutes the central scenario considered for this Study. However, two other scenarios have also been modelled to give an indication of some of the possible alternatives:

Scenario 2 – Wire-Free World
Scenario 3 – Low Investment

The assessment of these scenarios was as follows:

  • During the period of 2010-2015, OTA demand for spectrum remains the same as it is in Scenario 1, Business as Usual (BAU).
  • In this same time span, the rate of growth in DTH satellite TV channels is likely to vary, with consequent impact on the demand for Satellite Broadcasting spectrum.

The figure below shows the spectrum-demand projections for DTH Satellite Broadcasting. There is higher growth in demand in Scenario 2 and lower growth in Scenario 3. The differences are driven by different growth rates of HDTV and SDTV channels.

Figure 6.4.9 — DTH Satellite Broadcasting Services: demand for spectrum, by scenario

DTH Satellite Broadcasting Services: demand for spectrum, by scenario (the long description is located below the image)

Source: based on Red Mobile and PA Analysis, and PA PRISM Modelling

Description of Figure 6.4.9

This chart provides the demand for spectrum in MHz required to serve the offered traffic for DTH Satellite Broadcasting in total (in MHz x GOS). Demand is shown for the three scenarios. For the BAU scenario, the demand increases steadily from over 800 MHz in 2010 to about 1700 MHz by 2015. For the WFW scenario, demand increases more rapidly from over 800 MHz in 2010 to about 2600 MHz by 2015. Under the low investment scenario, demand increases slowly from over 800 MHz in 2010 to about 1000 MHz by 2015.


6.4.5 Conclusion

This Study shows that the spectrum demand for OTA Television is relatively flat. However, within the DTV Allotment plan, a small number of spare channels are available for growth (See allotment for Toronto and Montreal in Table 6.4.1). Moreover, within the ATSC digital channel of 19.3 Mbps, there are opportunities for broadcasters to offer a mix of HDTV, SDTV and mobile TV programming within an assigned 6 MHz OTA TV broadcasting channel. The demand for spectrum will remain at 270 MHz, however, service growth will occur within the allotted 6 MHz channels.

It is noted that congestion of FM Radio spectrum exists in large markets, such as the Greater Toronto Area. There will be continued pressure as AM stations aspire to convert to FM broadcasting. The use of IBOC digital broadcasting within existing FM channel allotment may offer a way forward to expand the use of the FM band. But, it is envisaged that the FM radio spectrum will remain the single most congested band of any of those assigned to the High-Value Services, over the period of the Study, and there are limited grounds for expecting this to change in the years immediately following 2015.

Three scenarios of DTH Satellite service and spectrum demand were modelled as shown in Figure 6.4.8, above. The number of SDTV is estimated to grow from 951 to 1532 programs from 2010 to 2015. Similarly, the number of HDTV grows from 162 to 494 programs. In 2010, about 800 MHz (orbital-MHz units) is needed for the equivalent of less than two DTH satellites.

However, in 2015, depending on which scenario is used, a range of 1000 MHz to 2600 MHz (orbital-MHz units) will be needed. For the Business as Usual scenario, the equivalent of 3.5 DTH satellites will be required. As the two DTH satellite operators have already procured the equivalent of 3.5 DTH satellites (as indicated in the Overview, Section 6.2.1), there is sufficient satellite capacity to meet the service demand. Some DTH satellite operators (See the Stakeholders' comments in the Satellite Services section (Section 6.5)) have indicated that some satellite capacity is available on new DTH satellites currently being put in service.

Date modified: