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

6.5 Satellite Services

6.5.1 Coverage of Satellite Services in this Report

This section covers all commercial communication systems using satellite technology.

The analyses and findings cover the following the following three categories of satellite communications services:

  1. Mobile Satellite Service (MSS);
  2. Fixed Broadband Satellite communications; and
  3. Fixed (Bent-pipe) Satellite communications

This section also presents the supporting stakeholder and technical information on Satellite Broadcasting (DTH) regarding orbital slots, bands and stakeholder commentsFootnote 28.

The table below summarizes the classification of satellite communications and broadcasting services used in this Report, showing where each can be found and how they map onto other classifications used for satellite services.

Summary — Classification of Satellite Communications and Broadcasting Services
Classification and terminology used in this Report Methodology used Where is it analyzed? Where is the stakeholder and technical research data? Mapping onto BSS / MSS / FSS
Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) PRISM model — Satellite Communications module 6.5.4 Satellite Communications 6.5 Satellite Communications MSS
Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications PRISM model — Satellite Communications module 6.5.4 Satellite Communications FSS (part)
Fixed Bent-pipe Satellite Communications High-level analysis 6.5.5 Satellite Communications FSS (all of it other than fixed broadband)
DTH Satellite Broadcasting PRISM model — 
Broadcasting module
6.4 Broadcasting services BSS

6.5.2 Overview

Due to Canada's large landmass, satellite communication continues to play a critical role in providing telecommunications to all regions. Key examples of use include:

  • Linking remote and northern communities with Southern Canada;
  • Delivery of broadcasting programs to CATV cable head-ends;
  • Delivery of broadcasting program networks;
  • Distribution of DTH broadcasting satellite services;
  • Provisioning of commercial VSAT networks;
  • Enabling access to broadband Internet services in remote rural areas;
  • Provisioning of specialized government communications; and
  • Enabling mobile satellite services.

Four categories of satellite services are treated in this Report, namely:

  • Broadband Satellite Service (modelled in this section);
  • Mobile Satellite Service (modelled in this section);
  • Fixed Bent-pipe Satellite Service (analyzed in this section); and
  • DTH broadcasting satellite service (modelled in Section 6.4, under broadcasting).

During the past 10 years, new fleets of Canadian satellite networks have been built or authorized. These include the following:

  • Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications in the Ka-Bands (19.7-20.2 GHz and 29.5-30.0 GHz);
  • Fixed Bent-pipe satellite Communications in the C-bands (4/6 GHz), Ku fixed satellite bands (11/18 GHz) for a range of commercial telecom services;
  • Direct-to-home (DTH) Satellite Broadcasting in the Ku broadcasting band (12.2-12.7 GHz) and the Ka broadcasting band (17.3-17.8 GHz);
  • Also, new Mobile Satellite service Communications networks have been built in the L-band (1.5/1.6 GHz) and 2 GHz band to serve Canada, the U.S. and other markets.

For reference, a summary of the Canadian satellite inventory per frequency band and geostationary orbital slots is as follows:

  • New Fixed Bent-pipe satellite networks are presently operating in three prime orbital slots (providing coverage in Canada and abroad) in the conventional C- and Ku-bands;
  • New Fixed Broadband satellite networks are authorized in four orbital slots in the Ka-band;
  • DTH Satellite Broadcasting networks are operating in five orbital slots in the Ku-bands;
  • Also, DTH Satellite Broadcasting networks have been authorized in seven orbital slots in the Ka-bands, but have yet to be deployed; and
  • New Mobile Satellite Broadcasting Networks are operating in the L-band and 2 GHz band.

A large percentage of the newer Canadian satellite capacity is committed to serving the U.S. market. However, this is done with condition of licence to ensure that sufficient capacity is retained to serve the Canadian broadcasting industry. This includes, in particular, Canadian DTH broadcasting satellite services and TV program carriage, which have historically used more than 60% of the Canadian fixed-satellite capacity. In addition to Canadian communications satellites, a large number of foreign satellites (more than 50 satellites) have been permitted to serve the Canadian market for telecom, broadband access and mobile services.

6.5.3 Spectrum Inventory and Spectrum Utilization

Section 7.0 of the Inventory Report contains a list of operational and authorized Canadian and foreign satellites permitted to serve the Canadian market. For simplicity, the information in Figures 7.3 to 7.8 has been summarized in Table 6.5.1, below.

Table 6.5.1 — Summary of satellite orbit-band resources
Type of satellite (orbit-band) Canadian satellite-
operational (orbit-band)
Canadian satellite - with authorization Foreign satellite, operational Foreign satellite - To be implemented
Fixed Bent-pipe Sat; C-band 4 0 53 0
Fixed Bent pipe Sat; Ku-band 4 0 52 0
Fixed Bent-pipe Extended Ku 2 1 24 0
Fixed Broadband Sat; Ka-band 5 3 6  
DTH Sat; Ku-band 7 1
DTH Sat; Ka-band 0 7
MSS- LEO 1.6/2.4 GHz 0 0 2
MSS- L-band; 1.5/1.6 GHz 1 4 1
MSS 2 GHz 1 1

Source: Inventory Report

6.5.4 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Comments from stakeholders

General

  • From the perspective of a satellite network carrier, there is un-met incremental satellite capacity demand to address broadcast, broadband and VSAT requirements in the Canadian market. For example, the two DTH satellite broadcasters have not secured satellite capacity for hundreds of CRTC Category 2 licensed broadcasts (digital specialty and pay programs). There is a significant demand for un-met Ka-band broadband VSAT service and some use of U.S. and FSS satellites.
  • The aforementioned carrier also believes that, given the development lead-times typical for satellite spectrum, a 10-year analysis of demand may be more useful than the current five-year analysis.
  • Further, it was suggested that, given the current economics of the Canadian marketplace, it has been difficult for Canadian satellite operators to interest Canadian satellite networks in pre-committing to new growth satellite programs in the near term.
  • A satellite-carrier perspective of this is that Industry Canada has awarded sufficient satellite spectrum to the two Canadian FSS/BSS satellite facility operators to meet near-term demand for satellite services.

Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications

  • According to a service provider, market research shows worldwide demand for broadband access supply will grow by more than 38% per annum over the next 10 years. A supply of nearly 350 Gbps will be required by 2019 to cover the number of projected broadband subscribers. This is equivalent to approximately 100 satellites (at 2 Mbps per MHz) assuming that the average subscriber will require less than 100 kbps (specifically, 60-70 kbps) by 2019.
  • The service provider estimates that 1 million Canadian homes and businesses will want broadband satellite in the next 10 years. These users either have no access (other than dial-up), or have only high-speed service (but not broadband, defined as 1.5 Mbps or greater).
  • A broadband service provider indicated that it is securing 10%-15% broadband Ka-band capacity from two U.S.-based satellites. While this will support the service provider's near-term (three-year) plans, it will be insufficient to support its mid- to long-term needs.
  • As an example, the broadband service provider indicated that ViaSat and Hughes are preparing to launch high-throughput satellites to provide low-cost Broadband services in the U.S. Both foreign operators have designed beams to cover the high-population density areas of southern Canada (at minimal incremental costs to the overall satellite program). A single Canadian service provider has procured satellite capacity on these "Canadian beams" from both foreign satellite operators. However, the consequence of this development is that the foreign operators' Canadian beams do not cover broadband services for Canadians living in rural and remote areas (including the far North).
  • High-speed access to the Internet in rural and remote areas will drive demand for FSS satellite spectrum.
  • Migration of VSAT and broadband services from traditional satellite payloads to high-throughput satellites using Ka-band FSS spectrum;
  • Continued rollout of terrestrial and wireless technologies could reduce the demand for satellite-based broadband and wireless services in Canada's rural and remote areas.

DTH Satellite Broadcasting Service

Some of the trends envisaged by DTH satellite carriers are highlighted below:

  • Ongoing demand for HD & 3D TV programming will increase demand for the FSS & BSS satellite spectrum;
  • Potential migration of subscribers from cable/DTH to IPTV via wired links may negatively impact demand for FSS & BSS satellite spectrum;
  • Aside from anticipating increased Internet service delivery over satellite in certain remote areas in the future, the biggest demands on satellite capacity will be for video, namely, MPEG4, and high-definition programming;
  • A satellite network operator indicated that Industry Canada has done an excellent job of securing FSS and BSS spectrum for use by Canadian satellite operators in the Canadian market and throughout the Americas. The satellite carrier has a sufficient backlog of satellite spectrum under development to meet its near-term market requirements;
  • A new BSS satellite was launched in 2008, and no Canadian DTH service provider has expressed an interest in its capacity for the Canadian market.
  • The Canadian DTH service providers appear satisfied with their current in-orbit capacity and limited incremental capacity under construction. However, ongoing demand for HD and 3D TV may drive demand for new spectrum in Canada over the next five to 10 years. The issue is the lack of interest from the Canadian satellite service providers in pre-committing to new-growth capacity to meet consumer, enterprise and government demand for satellite services.

Mobile Satellite Service (MSS)

  • The new generation of L-band MSS satellites makes use of contiguous spectrum blocks from 1.25 to 10 MHz. This generation of satellites has been planned since the mid-1990s and should provide 10-15 years of service. The MSS L-band is shared with several operators, some of whom use first-generation MSS satellites.
  • Next-generation mobile satellites will be capable of providing "cellular-like" mobile communications services to rural and remote users, and also will be able to support significant growth. Mobile satellite users will have channel bandwidths of 1.25 MHz, which is a significant jump from the 6 kHz channel bandwidth used for first-generation MSS satellites (>200 times).
  • Overall demand for Canadian mobile satellite voice services is expected to increase by 10% to 15% over the next five years. Dual-mode handsets for MSS and terrestrial ATC (cellular operation) could increase the uptake of voice services by 75% over the same period, and by more than 400% over the next 10 years.
  • The number of MSS devices is expected to double by 2015, and MSS data services are expected to experience a 350% growth by 2020.
  • The upcoming MSS service in the X-band will provide additional capacity for services.

Research

Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications

As a first step, the share of fixed broadband satellite facilities as part of the overall fixed broadband Internet market size was determined. The vast majority of Canadians are served by wireline facilities (cable modem and DSL) and FWA facilities (outlined in the FWA section).

The starting point for the estimation of traffic and subscribers was CRTC's Annual Report on the state of broadband subscriptions, types of facilities, number of households already passed by various access facilities, the average broadband consumption per subscriber, and other relevant information. In addition, input was received from some service providers on broadband satellite services used to provide broadband access, and the economic opportunities for broadband satellites to address un-served or under-served broadband rural areas.

As of 2009, wireline broadband facilities (cable modem and DSL) with capacity of 1.5 Mbps or more passed by 100% of urban households and 82% of rural households. Therefore, 18% of the rural households are considered un-served or under-served. In the FWA section, it is established that wireless FWA and broadband satellite facilities offer the best business case by serving the rural market, and wireline facilities are not a feasible approach for technical and economical reasons. Thus, in the assessment of this Study, the focus was on the number of rural households and businesses, especially in moderate and sparsely populated areas, which have little or no access to broadband facilities.

The fixed broadband satellite facilities consist of advanced Ka-band (19/29GHz bands) satellites designed with multi-beams coverage and with both feeder and service links, to provide high-speed Internet service to homes and businesses.

Mobile satellite service (MSS)

The first step is to estimate the number of subscribers in Canada presently being served by all mobile satellites. In the past decade or so, the mobile satellite industry has struggled to achieve a significant level of subscriptions. In the 2008 timeframe, The FCC estimated that a total of 1M mobile satellite subscribers accessed voice and data services via U.S. Geo-stationary Orbit (GSO), which is mobile satellites operating in the L-band (1.5/1.6 GHz) and non-GSO mobile satellites in the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands.

A new generation of multi-beam mobile satellites is being launched in the L-band and 2 GHz band. These new satellites promise to greatly improve the quality and throughput capability of mobile satellite services. Furthermore, regulatory provisions have been made to permit the development of an Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) (cellular mobile overlay) using the MSS spectrum and to offer integrated MSS and ATC services. This approach would permit subscribers with dual-mode handsets to access either MSS or ATC services depending on their location and preference. This is expected to help increase the up-take of mobile satellite service over the next five years. The Study estimates the existing mobile subscription on first-generation satellites and handsets to be approximately 100,000 subscribers (10% of U.S. market).

The new generation of MSS satellite services and handsets are expected to be equivalent to 3G (cellular-like) capacity and features. Over time, most consumers and businesses are expected to replace older devices as these devices are phased out.

6.5.5 Fixed Broadband Satellite & Mobile Satellite Services: Service and Spectrum Demand

This section presents the projections of subscribers and traffic to be accommodated by fixed broadband satellite service and mobile satellite service.

It gives the assumptions used to define the share of the market for satellite broadband access and mobile satellite service, the relative demand for spectrum and the results for alternative service demand scenarios.

Note: The results for Fixed (Bent-pipe) Satellite Communications Service are given in this subsection (6.5.5), and the results for DTH Satellite Broadcasting are presented in the Broadcasting Services section, 6.4, above.


Market analysis and subscriber projections

(i) Fixed Broadband Satellite Service

Fixed broadband satellite services provide Internet broadband services to homes and workplaces, generally, in deep rural/remote areas where fixed Broadband and FWA are uneconomical.

A top-down analysis was conducted to project the growth of all broadband subscriptions, which will be served by a mix of technologies over the next five years.

In the analysis, the share of the market served by fixed broadband satellites was determined. Also assessed was the growth of subscriptions, the average monthly usage in GB per subscriber, the ratio of download to upload traffic, and the types of rural markets best suited for broadband satellite services (versus FWA service, for instance).

The charts below summarize the projections for subscribers, data traffic and total traffic for broadband satellite to households and SMEs.

Figure 6.5.1, below, shows the projected number of subscriptions on Fixed Broadband Satellites.

Figure 6.5.1 — Fixed Broadband Satellite subscriber projections

Fixed Broadband Satellite subscriber projections (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Red Mobile Research and Projections

Description of Figure 6.5.1

This chart provides projections for fixed broadband satellite subscribers in number of subscriptions per year from 2010 to 2015. The number of subscriptions per year is as follows:

Fixed Broadband Satellite subscriber projections
2010 40,000
2011 60,000
2012 80,000
2013 100,000
2014 130,000
2015 160,000

  • Data traffic per fixed broadband satellites subscriber is less than it is for FWA and xDSL/fibre subscribers, at 10 GB/mo in 2010, rising to 25 GB/mo by 2015.

Market analysis and subscriber projections

(ii) Mobile Satellite Service (MSS)

Mobile satellite services will focus on the new L-band and 2 GHz satellites. In terms of market coverage, they are likely to focus on remote and deep rural areas, where cellular coverage is uneconomical.

Figure 6.5.2, below, presents the projections used for the number of subscribers for Mobile Satellite Services. They show some growth in subscribers over the period of 2010-15, coupled with a major shift from older (1G) to newer (3G) technology.

Figure 6.5.2 — Mobile satellite subscribers, by technology

Mobile satellite subscribers, by technology (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Red Mobile Projections

Description of Figure 6.5.2

This chart provides projections for mobile satellite subscribers in number of subscriptions per year from 2010 to 2015. The number of subscriptions per year, divided by technology, is as follows:

Mobile satellite subscribers, by technology
1G 3G
2010 120,000 0
2011 105,000 25,000
2012 70,000 80,000
2013 30,000 140,000
2014 30,000 150,000
2015 30,000 160,000

  • There are 120,000 Mobile Satellite Communications subscribers in 2010, growing to 190,000 by 2015;
  • Mobile Satellite Communications services generate low levels of voice traffic, approximately 50-60 minutes of voice traffic per month;
  • Data traffic (only for those subscribers on the newer technology) is projected to reach 40 MB per subscriber per month by 2015.

Projected Growth in Traffic

Fixed Broadband Satellite traffic is expected to grow due to a combination of increases in both the number of subscribers and the traffic per subscriber.

Mobile Satellite Services traffic remains a much lower level than FSS traffic, and the growth of MSS is largely driven by the introduction of mobile data, rather than growth in subscriber numbers.

Figure 6.5.3, below, shows the growth in traffic.

Figure 6.5.3 — Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, Traffic

Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, Traffic (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Red Mobile Projections

Description of Figure 6.5.3

This chart provides projections for traffic growth in GB/month for Fixed broadband satellites and mobile satellites. The traffic in GB/month from 2010-2015 is summarized in the following table:

Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, Traffic
Fixed Broadband Satellite Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)
2010 501,000 450
2011 39,000 775
2012 1,502,000 1,983
2013 2,253,000 5,147
2014 3,416,000 7,380
2015 5,005,000 9,863

Key Assumptions and Relationship between Service and Spectrum Demand
(Fixed Broadband and Mobile Satellites)

The key assumptions made in going from traffic demand into spectrum demand are as follows:

  • For Fixed Satellite communications, busy-hour traffic is assumed to be 2.5 times the average. For Mobile, it is assumed to be 3.5 times the average traffic;
  • A further uplift of 1.5 times the traffic is assumed to accommodate Quality of Service and for short bursts in traffic demand from individual subscribers;
  • Dual-polarization is implemented throughout;
  • A downlink spectral efficiency of 1.5 is assumed per polarization;
  • A frequency reuse factor across Canada of 4 for Fixed and 6 for Mobile is assumed
  • Spot counts for Canada are assumed to be 15 for Fixed and for 1G Mobile, and 65 for 3G Mobile. Typically, each satellite is capable of offering three times this spot count, but the other two-thirds of spots are allocated to the rest of the North American market.
  • Major improvements in spectral efficiency for Mobile Satellite Communications, arising from the shift from first-generation technology (delivering 0.06 bits/sec/polarization/Hz) to newer technology satellites (delivering 0.65 bits/sec/polarization/Hz).
  • All the satellite communications spectrums are paired.

The assumption regarding spot-beam counts is important and warrants further clarification:

It means that the correct interpretation for the spectrum demand figures presented here is: "Canadian demand for spectrum – in MHz x Geostationary Orbital slots – assuming that Canada obtains one-third of the capacity of each orbital slot."

The effect of this aspect of the definition of spectrum demand is summarized in the box below.

Clarification of the assumptions regarding spot beams for Satellite Communications

In this Study, the assumptions regarding spot beam counts allow for the likelihood that Canada will continue to get one-third of the spot beams available in each orbital slot.

A true picture of the Canadian demand for spectrum — assuming that Canada had access to 100% of the capacity of each orbital slot — would be one-third of the figures presented in this Study.

This approach to quantifying Canadian demand for spectrum applies to both Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications and Mobile Satellite Services.

Spectrum Demand: Broadband and Mobile Satellite Communications

Figure 6.5.4, below, shows the projections for the demand for spectrum.

Note that, for this Service, the demand for spectrum is measured in MHz x Geostationary Orbital Slots.

Figure 6.5.4 — Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, demand for spectrum

Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, demand for spectrum (the long description is located below the image)

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

Description of Figure 6.5.4

This chart provides projections on demand for spectrum in MHz x geostationary orbital slots for Satellite Communications (Fixed broadband satellites and mobile satellites). The demand in MHz x Orbital Slots from 2010-2015 is summarized in the following table:

Fixed broadband and mobile satellites, demand for spectrum
Fixed Broadband Satellite Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)
2010 824 MHz 97 MHz
2011 1,545 MHz 86 MHz
2012 2,247 MHz 62 MHz
2013/th> 3,064 MHz 45 MHz
2014/th> 4,040 MHz 54 MHz
2015/th> 5,147 MHz 63 MHz

Growth in the demand for spectrum is fuelled by growth in the number of subscribers, as well as traffic per subscriber.

For Mobile Satellite Services, the shift to newer technologies brings improvements in spectral efficiency. These offset the impact of traffic growth. Overall the demand for spectrum is projected to remain comparable with, or less than, what it is in 2010.

For Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications, over the Study period, the growth in traffic translates into a pro-rata increase in the spectrum (when expressed in MHz x GOS) required to carry the traffic.

Assessment of Alternative Scenarios: Fixed Broadband Satellite and Mobile Satellite Services

The only differences between the scenarios, which have a bearing on the demand for spectrum — as measured in MHz x Geostationary Orbital slots — are in the demand projections, these are as follows:

Scenario 2:

  • Fixed Broadband Satellite Subscribers grow to 185,000 by 2015 (instead of 160,000), and traffic per subscriber grows to 30 GB/mo (instead of to 25 GB/mo).
  • Mobile Satellite Subscribers on 1G technology decline to 22,000 by 2015 (instead of 30,000), and the number of subscribers on 3G technology grows to 250,000, instead of 160,000. Downlink data traffic per 3G-technology subscriber grows to 70 GB/mo (instead of to 0 MB/mo).

Scenario 3:

  • Fixed Broadband Satellite Subscribers grow to 100,000 by 2015 (instead of 160,000), and traffic per subscriber grows to 18 GB/mo (instead of to 25 GB/mo).
  • Mobile Satellite Subscribers on 1G technology decline to 48,000 by 2015 (instead of 30,000), and the number on 3G technology grows to 100,000, instead of 160,000. Downlink data traffic per 3G-technology subscriber grows to 20 GB/mo (instead of to 0 MB/mo).

Scenario Comparison Results

(i) Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications

Projections for traffic and spectrum demand for Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications are shown in Figure 6.5.5 and Figure 6.5.6, respectively, below.

Figure 6.5.5 — Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario

Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Red Mobile Projections

Description of Figure 6.5.5

This chart provides projections for traffic growth in GB/month for Fixed broadband satellite, for each of the three scenarios. The traffic in GB/month is summarized in the following table:

Fixed Broadband Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario
BAU WFW Low Inv.
2010 ~500,000 ~500,000 ~500,000
2011 ~939,000 ~939,000 ~939,000
2012 ~1,502,000 ~1,600,000 ~1,200,000
2013 ~2,253,000 ~2,600,000 ~1,500,000
2014 ~3,416,000 ~4,400,000 ~1,700,000
2015 ~5,005,000 ~6,900,000 ~2,200,000

Figure 6.5.6. — Fixed Broadband Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, by Scenario

Fixed Broadband Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, 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 6.5.6

This chart provides projections on demand for spectrum in MHz x geostationary orbital slots for Fixed broadband satellites and mobile satellites, for each of the three scenarios. The demand in MHz x Orbital Slots from 2010-2015 is summarized in the following table:

Fixed Broadband Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, by Scenario
BAU WFW Low Inv.
2010 824 MHz 824 MHz 824 MHz
2011 1,545 MHz 1,545 MHz 1,545 MHz
2012 2,247 MHz ~2,500 MHz ~1,700 MHz
2013 3,064 MHz ~3,600 MHz ~2,000 MHz
2014 4,040 MHz 5,100 MHz 2,100 MHz
2015 5,147 MHz ~7,100MHz ~2,200 MHz

The differences in traffic growth translate, proportionally, into differences in the demand for spectrum, as measured in MHz x Geostationary Orbital slots.

In practice, it is likely that these differences would translate into differences in the supply of satellite communications capacity offered to the Canadian market versus other markets, and (in the longer term) in the timing and capacity of future satellites. As with Cellular and several of the other services, there are grounds for expecting there to be somewhat of a balancing feedback loop between supply of spectrum and demand for spectrum.

Scenario Comparison Results

(ii) Mobile Satellite Services (MSS)

Projections for traffic and spectrum demand for Mobile Satellite Services are shown in Figure 6.5.7 and Figure 6.5.8, respectively, below.

Figure 6.5.7 — Mobile Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario

Mobile Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Red Mobile Analysis

Description of Figure 6.5.7

This chart provides projections for offered traffic in GB/month for mobile satellite communication, for the three scenarios. The traffic in GB/month from 2010-2015 is summarized in the following table:

Mobile Satellite Communications: Growth in Traffic, by Scenario
BAU WFW Low Inv.
2010 450 450 450
2011 775 775 775
2012 1,983 ~2,500 ~1,500
2013 5,147 ~10,500 ~2,400
2014 7,380 ~17,000 ~2,500
2015 9,863 ~24,500 ~2,600

The scenarios have very different projections for total traffic driven by the differences in both subscriber numbers and in traffic per subscriber, outlined above.

However, when it comes to understanding the projections for spectrum demand, the differences in traffic growth are largely offset by differences in the rate of switchover to the newer, more spectrally efficient, technology.

Figure 6.5.8 — Mobile Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, by Scenario

Mobile Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, 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 6.5.8

This chart provides projected demand for spectrum in MHz x geostationary orbital slots for mobile satellite communications for each of the three scenarios. The demand in MHz x Orbital Slots from 2010-2015 is summarized in the following table:

Mobile Satellite Services: Spectrum Demand, by Scenario
BAU WFW Low Inv.
2010 97 MHz 97 MHz 97 MHz
2011 86 MHz 86 MHz 86 MHz
2012 62 MHz ~60 MHz ~70 MHz
2013 45 MHz ~56 MHz ~54 MHz
2014 54 MHz ~80 MHz ~56 MHz
2015 63 MHz ~110 MHz ~58 MHz

The outcome is that the trajectory for spectrum demand is similar for all three scenarios over the period 2010-13, after which it grows slowly in Scenarios 1 and 3, and then grows rapidly in Scenario 2.

As with the spectrum projections for Fixed Broadband Satellite, there may to be further balancing feedback loops, which have the effect of closing any gaps between spectrum supply and spectrum demand.

6.5.6 Fixed Bent-Pipe Satellite Communications (C- and Ku-bands)

Canada has a number of commercial fixed "bent-pipe" satellites in the conventional C- and Ku-bands and a large number of foreign fixed satellitesFootnote 29, approved in these bands, to serve the Canadian telecommunication market. These satellites, including Canadian satellite networks, provide services to the North American Continent and other regions. The Americas are being served by these commercial fixed satellites, which are generally staked at every 2 degrees along the geostationary arc. These satellites, located on the 70-to-130-degree-longitude-west arc would have good-to-excellent coverage of Canada. This represents a large pool of spectrum-orbital resource in the C- and Ku-bands to operate a large number of fixed satellites and provide significant satellite capacity to serve the North American market, including Canada.

As such, it is hard to quantify the actual Canadian communication traffic on these many Canadian and foreign satellites serving a large marketplace. It is equally difficult to estimate the Canadian service demand of fixed "bent-pipe" satellite communications. These satellites provide a wide range of service applications to many customers and satellite resellers. These commercial communications services include:

  • Carriage of public switched telecom network (PSTN) traffic across Canada, including Northern Communities;
  • Internet trunking to various hubs, including remote locations;
  • Specialized communication networks for enterprises and government use;
  • Carriage of broadcasting programs, from production to distribution centres and to broadcasting station, including SNG (satellite news gathering);
  • Support VSAT enterprise networks; and
  • Use of satellite to restore terrestrial fibre and microwave radio relay systems, and other applications.

Financial analysts regularly assess the satellite service market in terms of satellite capacity (number of transponders) available and the market demand for transponders. Capacity is based on satellite service demand and projected transponders scheduled for service over the next five years. These assessments show that a good level of spare satellite capacity is available to serve the North American telecom market.

The opinions of Canadian satellite network operators on fixed "bent-pipe" satellite capacity have indicated the following:

  • Business News Information made public by Telesat Canada indicated that the use of its existing satellite capacity to be as high as 80% for North America in early 2011.
  • Ciel Satellite operator indicated, in a presentation at Spectrum 20/20 in 2010, that the demand for new satellites to serve North America is expected to be strong and growing steadily, and existing spectrum-orbit assigned by Canada to be adequate to meet current and future satellite demand.
  • Ciel made the following estimate, in Table 6.5.2, belowFootnote 30, on the availability of fixed satellite capacity (number of transponders) by Canadian satellites to serve the North American market in the C- and Ku-band.
Table 6.5.2 — Total Canadian satellite capacity (equivalent transponders), by frequency bands
Year C band Ku band Total no. of transponders
2006 60 120 180
2008 60 130 190
2010 60 140 200
2012 60 140 200
2014 60 140 200
2016 60 165 225
2018 60 190 250

Source: Spectrum 20/20 Presentation


The Study has provided an overview situation with fixed "bent-pipe" satellite communications and the relative capacity available from Canadian satellite networks. With more than 50 foreign fixed satellites approved in various bands to serve the Canadian market, the available transponder capacity could be a factor of 1 to 2, especially to serve Southern Canada.

6.5.7 Conclusion

In the Mobile Satellite Service, the Study projects an increase in subscribers and the introduction of some mobile data on a usable scale. These substantial increases in traffic are offset by the gain in spectral efficiency from moving from the 1G to 3G technology. The net effect is that spectrum demand for Mobile Satellite Services is projected to be fairly steady over the next five years, as subscribers upgrade to the newer technology.

In the Fixed Broadband Satellite market, a four-fold growth in subscribers, and a relatively slow (two and half times) growth in the volume of data traffic per subscriber are projected. The combined effect is a close-to-tenfold growth in traffic over the five-year period. We do not anticipate any large-scale gains in spectral efficiency for these services over the five-year period and, consequently, the demand for spectrum, as measured in MHz x orbital slots, is likely to follow the growth in traffic.

An analytic overview has been presented for the fixed "bent-pipe" satellite service. Due to the large number of Canadian and foreign satellites serving the North American market, including Canada, it is difficult to quantify demand. Furthermore, there are many types of satellite telecom services being delivered and a large number of satellite network operators, service providers and a large pool of fixed satellite users. Very little information was available to study the service and spectrum demand for this category of fixed satellites.

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