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

6.8 Amateur Radio

6.8.1 Overview

The amateur radio service is used by individuals for communication between amateur stations, radio transmission for non-commercial exchange of messages, disaster relief communications, and training, etc. There are several bands allocated to the amateur service, and many of these are on a shared basis.

A number of frequency bands have been allocated internationally to amateur services. These include the:

  • 160, 80, 40, 30, 20, 16, and 10 meter bands at HF;
  • 6 and 2 meter bands and the band 222-225 MHz at VHF; and
  • A number of bands across the UHF and SHF ranges are for primary and secondary services.

Regulatory bodies may assign a number of these bands as primary or secondary to amateur service, in accordance with their domestic spectrum priorities. The Canadian amateur radio community participates actively at ITU-WRC conferences to advance the interest of its members.

The amateur community is well recognized as providing valuable communications assistance during times of disaster and emergency, in particular, when traditional wireline and wireless communications have failed. Spectrum regulators have often approved the use of secondary service allocations for temporary amateur communications during these hardship situations.

6.8.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Inventory Report (Section 4.2.1) indicates that there is more than 23 GHz of spectrum allocated to the amateur service; approximately 20% of this is allocated on a primary basis, and 80% is allocated on a secondary basis. Given that this Study is limited to between 52 MHz and 38 GHz, there is approximately 57 MHz of spectrum allocated on a primary and exclusive basis to the amateur service in this range.

Amateur stations are not licensed in Canada. Amateur station operators require an Amateur Radio Operator Certificate with the Basic Qualification and Call Sign. With this certificate, an amateur operator may operate within any of the amateur service frequency bands in accordance with the operator's qualifications identified for the specified band.

In general, the amateur service bands are aligned with the U.S. and internationally. There are currently more than 60,000 amateur radio operator certificates across Canada. The Inventory Report (Figure 4.1, Section 4.4) shows the total number of amateur certificates active by fiscal year in Canada.

Figure 6.8.1 — Total of Amateur Certificates, by years

Total of Amateur Certificates, by years (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Radio Amateurs of Canada

Description of Figure 6.8.1

This chart provides the total number of Amateur certificates by year. The approximate values from the chart are summarized in the following table. It is noted that these values are estimates, and that given possible inaccuracies in the values, it would be more beneficial to focus on the trends.

Total of Amateur Certificates, by years
Year Number of Certificates
1997 38,000
1998 40,000
1999 41,000
2000 44,000
2001 45,000
2002 47,000
2003 49,000
2004 50,000
2005 52,000
2006 54,000
2007 55,000
2008 56,000
2009 58,000

As the Amateur radio stations are not licensed, the best source of information on the general spectrum utilization is from the Radio Amateurs of Canada. The Amateur Association provides an overview of the current spectrum utilization and the specific communications activities in certain bands, as discussed below.

6.8.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Canadian Amateur Association

  • The types of activities carried out by amateurs vary widely, but the most popular activity continues to be the use of VHF and UHF FM using hand-held and mobile radios. The most popular bands for this purpose are 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz. Indeed, this strong use of the VHF and UHF bands has been augmented by amateurs embracing Internet technology as a means of inter-connecting repeaters into a worldwide network. Furthermore, amateurs are now adopting digital voice technology and mobile Internet connectivity, which puts further demand on amateur spectrum at 144-148 MHz, 430-450 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz.
  • It is difficult to estimate numbers of amateur stations in use at any time. In general, amateur frequencies are neither assigned nor channellized. Amateurs use communications modes that occupy a wide variety of bandwidths, ranging from a few tens of Hz for Morse code (A1A) communications to several MHz for two-way amateur television. The main exception to this non-channellized and unassigned mode of operation is the use of voice repeaters for FM communications at VHF and UHF. In order to avoid interference between repeaters, there is a system of voluntary frequency coordination in place for these voice repeaters. In large urban areas, there are virtually no unused repeater frequencies available in the band 144-148 MHz, and the congestion of repeaters in the band 430-450 MHz is also a problem in these areas. The total number of coordinated repeater assignments is approximately 1200 in the band 144-148 MHz, 640 assignments at 430-450 MHz, 120 assignments at 222-225 MHz and 120 assignments at 50-54 MHz.
  • FM voice communications may be used in the bands 50-54 MHz, 144-148 MHz, 222-225 MHz, 430-450 MHz, 902-928 MHz, 1240-1300 MHz and 2300-2450 MHz. The majority of FM voice is in the bands 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz, with lower levels of activity at 50-54 MHz, 902-928 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz. Digital voice and data repeaters interlinked via the Internet are now being deployed in major Canadian urban areas, with operation in the bands 144-148 MHz, 430-450 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz. In some Canadian urban areas, wideband amateur fast-scan video activity is presently occupying 6 MHz wide channels; this may include cross-band video repeaters in the band 430-450 MHz and in the band 902-928 and/or the band 1240-1300 MHz. It is becoming a challenge to assign spectrum space for these new applications as the technology envelope continues to increase.
  • Weak signal communications, including Earth-Moon-Earth (moon bounce) communications, are concentrated near 144.2 MHz, 222 MHz, 432 MHz, 903 MHz, 1296 MHz, 2304 MHz, 3400 MHz, 5760 MHz, 10.36 GHz and 24.19 GHz. These frequencies are also used for terrestrial communications, using such propagation methods as Sporadic E-layer, tropospheric, meteor scatter, auroral and rainstorm scatter propagation. In the amateur satellite service, frequencies in the 144-146 MHz, 435-438 MHz, 1260-1270 MHz and 2400-2450 MHz bands are currently used by international operational satellites.

6.8.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Projecting Future Demand for Amateur Radio Spectrum

The foregoing information, contained in sections 6.8.2 and 6.8.3, provides the information base to assist in projecting future demand for amateur radio. The information utilized includes:

  • The wide range of frequency bands (primary and secondary allocations) in the Inventory Report (section 4.2.1);
  • The amateur certificates and the submission by the Canadian Amateur Association on their activities, most popular services/bands more difficult to coordinate repeater (voluntary coordination of repeaters by amateurs) stations and projected amateur certificate growths.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Amateur services are for private recreation use of operating radio transmission, for non-commercial exchange of messages, for experimentation, self-training and to assist in providing emergency communications.

Services are most often used as follows:

  • By individual operators, to provide communications between amateur radio stations over regional or worldwide radio links using terrestrial and satellite facilities;
  • Amateur communications to interconnect with public networks, such as the PSTN, public packet data networks (PPDN) and the Internet;
  • Amateur radio operators use various modes of transmission to communicate. Voice transmissions are most common, in addition to high-quality FM audio, and other more reliable communications, often over long distances.
  • For voice communications, using various technologies, such as AM, FM and DSB-SC.
  • For image transmission of amateur TV (fast or slow scan) and facsimile
  • For text and data, using continuous wave, packet radio, phase-shift keying and to spread spectrum.

The size and growth of amateur membership is a good proxy of the interest in amateur radio service and the continued demand for spectrum. As of mid-1999, there were approximately 46,000 licensed amateur operators and approximately 60,000 in early 2011. The number of new licensed amateur operators during 2008-2010 grew by 1,500 per year. An estimate of amateur service growth is for this trend of 1,500 new members per year to continue over the next five years.

As there is no record on spectrum usage on the wide range of frequency band available, it is only practical to estimate the areas of high occupancy, based on the popularity of the certain amateur service applications.

Table 6.8.1 — Summary of service types and growth
Spectrum Voice and Internet Image, text and data Comments
Up to 2011
  • Majority of voice and Internet links are in 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz bands;
  • Congested number of voice and data repeaters in 144-148 MHz band and 430-450 MHz bands certain cities;
  • Fewer voice/data repeaters in 222-225 and 50-54 MHz bands;
  • Also, 1240-1300 MHz band is used.
  • Due to BW, the 420-450 MHz band supports amateur television:
  • Also cross-band repeaters in 902-928 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz as video repeaters.
  • Some difficulty in coordinating frequencies in the 144/430 MHz bands for voice/data repeaters in certain cities.
  • Note: This is a voluntary coordination process among amateurs.
  • Continued growth of voice/Internet traffic will have to be accommodated in other bands, then the 144/430 MHz bands.
  • Wide range of frequency available to accommodate these service applications.
  • With continued interest in amateur radio and membership, the existing allocated spectrum to amateurs will be increasingly used.

Source: Red Mobile Analysis

Spectrum Demand

The amateur 144-148 and 430-450 MHz bands are the most utilized spectrum for voice communications. Frequencies for new repeaters are often hard to find and coordinate by the amateurs in large cities. The total number of coordinated repeater assignments is approximately 1,200 in the bands: 144-148 MHz, 640 at 430-450 MHz, 120 at 222-225 MHz and 120 at 50-54 MHz.

FM voice communications may be used in the bands 50-54 MHz, 144-148 MHz, 222-225 MHz, 430-450 MHz, 902-928 MHz, 1240-1300 MHz and 2300-2450 MHz. The majority of FM voice is in the bands 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz, with lower levels of activity at 50-54 MHz, 902-928 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz.

Wideband amateur fast-scan video activity is presently occupying 6 MHz wide channels in some cities and is using cross-band video repeaters in the band 430-450 MHz and in the band 902-928 and/or the band 1240-1300 MHz. It is becoming difficult to assign spectrum for these new applications as the bandwidth of new technology continues to increase.

Usage trends indicate:

  • High demand for repeater frequencies in urban areas, in the bands 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz.
  • The total number of voluntary coordinated repeater assignments by amateurs is approximately 1,200 at 144-148 MHz, 640 at 430-450 MHz, 120 at 222-225 MHz and 120 at 50-54 MHz.
  • The majority of FM voice is in the bands 144-148 MHz and 430-450 MHz, with lower levels of activity at 50-54 MHz, 902-928 MHz and 1240-1300 MHz.

6.8.5 Conclusion

While demand has been steady for the most part, there is some pressure on bands, including 144-148/430-450 MHz Band. Some of this pressure may be alleviated by the use of other bands for voice, i.e. 50-54, 222-225, 902-928, 1240-1300 and 2300-2450 MHz. The range of frequency bands available should ease some of the repeater operation congestion experienced in the 144/430 MHz bands in some urban areas.

In some cities, wideband amateur fast-scan video activity is presently occupying 6 MHz wide channels using cross-band video repeaters in the bands 430-450 MHz, 902-928 and/or 1240-1300 MHz. It is becoming difficult to assign spectrum for these new applications in these cities.

However, despite the occurrence of high usage for certain amateur services in particular bands, there is no additional demand for spectrum identified for this sector in the 2010-2015 time frame.

6.9 Aeronautical Services

6.9.1 Overview

Civil and military aviation are both supported by a wide range of radionavigation, communications, and radiolocation systems and applications. These systems are implemented worldwide, and aeronautical frequency allocations are international in nature. The majority of the aeronautical bands are, either directly or indirectly, part of the air navigation and air-traffic management systems. Canada is bound, by international treaty, to designate certain radio frequencies for aeronautical services and, to the greatest extent possible, keep those frequencies free from harmful interference.

The aeronautical regulatory requirements for radiocommunications are generally established by International bodies, such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), due to the global aspects of the various aeronautical applications. The aeronautical requirements are adopted by administrations and domestic Civil Aviation agencies. In Canada, Transport Canada regulates the implementation and operation of aeronautical systems, and NAV CANADA is the agency responsible for the operation of air traffic control including the oversight of a number of civil aeronautical navigational systems. Canadian airport authorities are responsible for implementing certain radiodetermination systems, such as airport surveillance systems and operation communications. The technical requirements for universal aeronautical navigation systems are developed either by the ICAO or various regional technical groups. Industry Canada oversees the overall spectrum management of aeronautical frequency allocation, spectrum utilizations (service designations), licensing and enforcement.

A number of frequencies have been assigned by Industry Canada for VHF radionavigation, specific to the operation of mobile stations in the aeronautical serviceFootnote 41. Industry Canada's spectrum and technical standard RBR-1 includes VHF frequencies for such applications as marker beacons, instrument landing systems, general aviation communication, air traffic control, as well as aeronautical operation control communications. Also, miscellaneous frequencies are available for emergency search-and-rescue use.

A large number of bands are assigned for aeronautical radionavigation in the UHF/SHF range from 960 to 15,700 MHz, for a multitude of critical aeronautical systems, such as distance/bearing measuring equipment, transponders, GNSS (GPS, GLONASS) — primarily radar, mobile satellite surveillance radar (AMS(R)S), airborne radar altimeters, wind-shear radar, airborne radar and Doppler navigation. In addition, the military, some aircraft manufacturers and public safety agencies make extensive use of mobile aeronautical telemetry spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band.

In the case of an aircraft flying from one location to another, multiple bands are used simultaneously during the flight, from takeoff to landing, plus taxiing at the airport. It is, therefore, necessary to consider the relationship between aeronautical bands when evaluating their utilization. Aeronautical allocations are internationally harmonized. In particular, Canada and the U.S. are fully harmonized.

6.9.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

According to the Inventory Report, there is a common trend for various applications that overlay the Air Navigation System (ANS). The ANS ensures the safety of all flights, whether domestic, international, civilian or military. Domestically, the responsibility of this system is shared by Transport Canada and NAV CANADA. In the military domain, DND is the responsible department. To meet these responsibilities, an agreement for the selection and coordination of the aeronautical bands, as shown in Table 6.9.1, below (Inventory Report Table 9.1), exists between Industry Canada (IC) and NAV CANADA.

Table 6.9.1 — Bands relevant to frequency selection and coordination between IC and NAV CANADA
Frequency bands Applications
74.8-75.2 MHz ILS, Marker Beacons
108.000-121.9875 MHz VOR, ILS, ATSC, VHF Communication
123.5875-128.8125 MHz VHF Communication
132.0125-136.4875 MHz VHF Communication
328.6-335.4 MHz ILS Glide Slope
960-1215 MHz DME, TACAN, TCAS, SSR
5030-5091 MHz MLS

Source: Inventory Report

Table 6.9.2 — Other related aeronautical bands
Frequency bands Applications Major users
335-399.9 MHz Military applications DND
1300-1370 MHz Primary radars DND, NAVCAN
2700-2900 MHz Airport surveillance Radars DND
4200-4400 MHz Radio altimeters Radio altimeters are installed on aircrafts and are not domestically licensed
5350-5460 MHz Airborne and ship radars DND, ship radars
Not domestically licensed.
8750-8850 MHz Radar applications DND, Coast Guard Canada
9000-9500 MHz Radar applications DND, Coast Guard Canada
13.25-13.4 GHz Airborne radar applications DND
15.4-15.7 GHz Airborne radar applications DND

Source: Inventory Report, Table 9.3

Spectrum Utilization

  • The aeronautical community heavily uses the major aeronautical bands (108-137 and 960-1164 MHz), which are part of the air navigation system (ANS). In particular, the two major air navigation system operators are the DND and NAV CANADA.
  • In the 108-111.95 MHz, the ILS localizer frequencies tend to be congested around major airports.
  • The selection of optimal channel frequency is difficult as it is channel-paired with Glidepath (328-335 MHz) and DME (960-1215 MHz) through international global standards.
  • A large number of aeronautical services operate in the bands from 960 MHz to 15.7 GHz. Congestion may exist in the 960-1215 MHz band, where multiple services are deployed in a sharing scenario, including DND services.
  • Several critical aeronautical systems operate in multiple bands, providing different safety services, whether collision avoidance, terrain avoidance, onboard weather radar, radar altimeters, SATCOM, navigation, etc.
  • Most of these systems operate in accordance to global international standards within the allocated and available spectrum.
  • The existing 2300 MHz MATS/AMT spectrum is shared between military, public safety agencies and aircraft manufacturers, and it is difficult to operate simultaneously with other users in same area. Flight-test programs for new and old aircrafts use MATS/AMT spectrum to provide dynamic real-time downlinking of several hundred data parameters.

6.9.3 Stakeholders Input and Research Analysis

The stakeholders who provided input included the DND, Transport Canada, NAV CANADA and manufacturers.

1. Aeronautical Services in the 108-137 and 328-335 MHz Bands

Transport Canada:

  • All aeronautical services in the bands 108-137 MHz and 328-335 MHz are expected to experience further constraint or congestion.
  • In the band 108-111.975 MHz, the availability of ILS Localizer frequencies is lacking particularly in dense urban areas. The selection of an optimal ILS Localizer channel frequency is very difficult as it is channel-paired with Glidepath (328-335 MHz) and DME (960-1215 MHz) through international global standards. Cross-border coordination also applies.
  • Congestion exists in the VHF communication band 117.975-137 MHz used at all airports, as well as for the approach, landing and en-route phases of flights. International standards and cross-border frequency coordination applies.
  • However, these services do not experience growth, as they are constrained within the limitations of allocated spectrum. Additional spectrum is not available to expand these services to relieve frequency congestion, and there is no immediate solution. In the end, an internationally coordinated migration to digital technologies may alleviate some of the congestion. However, any migration to other technologies has to take into account aircraft fitment and certification in large fleets. The global migration to other technologies or equipment could take 15 to 25 years


  • Based on arrangements with Industry Canada, NAV CANADA is responsible for implementing aeronautical navigation services in a number of bands or frequencies assigned to aeronautical service, as outlined in RBR-1 - Technical Requirements for the Operation of Mobile Stations in the Aeronautical Service.
  • NAV CANADA forecasts some growth over the next five years in the radionavigation sub-bands VHF 108-137 MHz and 328-335 MHz, including areas where the spectrum is already saturated.
  • For VHF aeronautical service, NAV CANADA forecasts the following growth in frequency assignments (FA) for 2010-2015:
    • Band 108.0-111.975 MHz: Instrument landing system (ILS) - No new FA anticipated are projected over the 2010 to 2015 period;
    • Band 121.9875-123.5875 MHz: General Aviation Communication (GAC) - there are 400 FAs in 2010, a growth of 25 FA per year is projected over the 2010 to 2015 period;
    • Band 123.5875-128.8125 MHz: Air Traffic Control (ATC) Services - From a base of 400 FAs in 2010, a growth of 30 assignments per year is projected over the 2010 to 2015 period; and
    • Band 132.0125-136.4875 MHz: Air Traffic Control (ATC) Services - Growth of 10 FAs per year is projected over the 2010 to 2015 period.
  • NAV CANADA indicated that the VHF Air Traffic Control bands 117.975 to 121.9875, 123.5875 to 128.8125 and 132.0125 to 136.0 MHz have been essentially saturated in certain areas of Canada (such as along the Toronto to Montreal corridor) for the past 20 years or more. This is due to the fact that this band experienced very rapid growth in the past, more so in the U.S. than in Canada. And airborne transmissions at relatively high altitudes in the U.S., on a frequency within that band, prevent the use of that frequency in Canada for several hundred nautical miles. Therefore, the frequency congestion being experienced is a result of the proximity to the United States.


  • The DND does not expect major service growth in the UHF/SHF Aeronautical Bands and does not anticipate additional demand of spectrum.

2. Spectrum in the 960 MHz to 15.7 GHz Range to Support Civil and Military Aviations


  • MATS/AMT spectrum is utilized for the Flight Test Telemetry Program using frequency diversity technique in the upper part of the band 2360-2400 MHz. It is difficult to access spectrum in cases where more than one user (other than DND) exists in an area.

Transport Canada:

  • A large number of aeronautical services operate in the bands from 960 MHz to 15.7 GHz. Congestion already exists in the 960-1215 MHz band, where multiple services are deployed in a complex sharing scenario, including DND services.
  • Flight-test telemetry programs are complex, costly and involve dynamic real-time downlinking of several hundred data parameters using avionics and antenna design, optimized for a specific frequency range. Currently aeronautical mobile telemetry spectrum is in the 2360-2400 MHz band.
  • Several critical aeronautical systems operate in multiple bands providing different safety services, whether collision avoidance, terrain avoidance, onboard weather radar, radar altimeters, SATCOM, navigation, etc.
  • Many of these systems operate in accordance with global international standards within the allocated and available spectrum. Continued growth in the aviation industry places increasing demand on the continued availability of these systems. The service provided by these systems must be continually available and must operate within the constraints of the allocated spectrum.
  • The aviation industry is very unique in how it uses spectrum and, as such, it cannot be compared to how other industries use spectrum. For example, one commercial passenger aircraft flying from Toronto to Ottawa will use VHF communications and navigation frequencies, UHF DME, SSR transponder frequencies, onboard weather radar and radar altimeter, ground proximity warning frequencies, GPS L-Band frequencies, etc. All of these systems are used simultaneously and not in isolation by a single system or frequency. Multiply this one example by the total number of aircraft operating at any given moment in time in Canadian airspace, including international over-flights.


  • In the UHF/SHF bands (960-5150 MHz) used to support civil and military aviation (various sources), the following growth in frequency assignments is envisaged for 2010 to 2015:
    • Band 992-1213 MHz: Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) and Aircraft Transponders - 10 new FAs;
    • Band 1051-1231 MHz: GPS L5 - An increased use of GPS L5 is anticipated when it is widely available;
    • Band 1030-1090 MHz: Secondary Surveillance Radar 15 FAs per year;
    • Band 1240-1350 MHz: Aeronautical Radio Navigation (primary Radar) There have been a stable 24 primary surveillance radar and 96 FAs for past 20 years, and change to this is not anticipated;
    • Band 4200-4400 MHz: Airborne Radar Altimeters DND makes extensive use and this is expected to continue over the period; and
    • Band 5000-5150 MHz: Aircraft to satellite communications; MLS, AM(R)S, aeronautical mobile, wireless networks - Service implemented by NAV CANADA. WRC-07 allocation provision for AMT service in band 5091-5150 MHz was entered in the Canadian Table of Allocation, and its utilization will be subject to spectrum policy.


  • DND believes that there is insufficient spectrum allocated to meet the needs of MATS/AMT.
  • Minor growth is expected in the Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) area.


  • The existing MATS/AMT band 2360-2400 MHz is shared among military, public safety agencies and aircraft manufacturers. Non-military MATS/AMT operation is permitted in the top 10 MHz. It is difficult to operate simultaneously with other users in the same area within this small amount of spectrum.

Research Analysis

1. A U.S. NTIA studyFootnote 42 on future U.S. Government radiocommunications makes projections on the trends in the radionavigation service and the radionavigation-satellite service as follows:

  1. GPS is the main radionavigation service throughout the world. The increased use of GPS should promote long-term reductions in the use of traditional radionavigation systems. Such systems as ILS, VOR, and MLS are expected to be replaced by GPS-based systems.
  2. Trends toward more-accurate and reliable satellite-based technologies are making some older systems obsolete, reducing the current and future spectrum needs in several frequency bands.

Despite the projected trends of the aforementioned study, it is believed that the existing radionavigation systems (i.e. MLS, etc.) will continue to operate in Canada, as they do today, well into 2015 and beyond. With the increased use of Global Navigation Satellite Service (GNSS), such as GPS, in providing and supplementing aeronautical navigation operations, there is some concern that terrestrial use of mobile satellite spectrum in the L-band adjacent to the GPS allocations could significantly limit or interfere with the operation of GPS navigation operation around major airports. Industry Canada made provisionsFootnote 43 to ensure that ATC rollout and operation will not cause harmful interference to GPS navigation systems at airports, in its spectrum policy for the future operation of ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) or terrestrial cellular service as an integral part of the mobile satellite service within the L-band, The cellular ATC operation is secondary in status to primary services, such as GPS. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised of late in the U.S. regarding potential interference to GPS applications with the full implementation of cellular ATC service.

2. Industry Canada has begun the public process of considering increasing the amount of spectrum available for aeronautical mobile telemetry (MATS/AMT) as follows:

  1. In its Consultation on revising the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations in 2009, Industry Canada made proposed revisions to the band 5091-5150 MHz with the entry of AERONAUTICAL MOBILE as primary service and footnote 5.444B. At that time, it was indicated that: "Industry Canada plans to hold public consultations in the near future to develop spectrum utilization policies to address the spectrum requirements of the aeronautical community and AMT in Particular"Footnote 44. It has been reported that some AMT equipment is being developed in this new band.
  2. Furthermore, in its Consultation on the Spectrum Allocations and Spectrum Utilization Policies for the Frequency Range 1435-1525 MHz (L-Band) - December 2009Footnote 45, Industry Canada indicated its intention as follows:

"Industry Canada will review the policy regarding the band 2360-2400 MHz in a forthcoming consultation that will also consider the new bands identified for AMT at the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07) in Geneva. The new bands identified for AMT at WRC-07 may address long-term spectrum requirements, for which equipment could become available in several years. In the meantime, Industry Canada has received some requests to accommodate the immediate and mid-term requirements of the aeronautical industry in the 1.4 GHz band, considering the capabilities of the industry's test equipment."

6.9.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Forecasting Future Demand for Service and Spectrum

The foregoing information and analyses, contained in sections 6.9.2 and 6.9.3, provide the information base to assist in projecting future service and spectrum demand for aeronautical service. The information used includes:

  • The frequency bands allocated to aeronautical service and assigned to NAV CANADA for coordination from the Inventory Report, the number of systems in various bands;
  • Input from stakeholders and reporting from NAVCAN on the frequencies assigned and forecasted in various bands under its coordination; and
  • Input from various users of aeronautical services.

For this sector, the users' views are important in projecting the demand for spectrum for particular applications and the evolution of aeronautical services. The forecast for demand is based on these sources of information.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Civil and military aviations are supported by a wide range of radionavigation, communications and radiolocation systems and applications. The majority of the aeronautical bands are, either directly or indirectly, part of the air navigation and air-traffic management systems.

We note that a five-year trend analysis, based on the numbers of Frequency Assignments (FAs), would not be representative of the aeronautical services' spectrum usage. Once the systems are deployed, either at airports or in aircrafts' avionics systems, their lifespan is some decades. We address the pressure points and spectrum needs in the following section, based on input from stakeholders. However, it should also be noted that:

  • Global navigation satellite services, such as GPS, will play an increasing role in supplementing existing radionavigation system and may reduce the reliance on traditional systems such as ILS, VOR and MLS (see findings of NTIA studying section 6.9.3, above);
  • While it has been indicated by a stakeholder that the bands 74.8-75.2 MHz and 5000–5150 MHz are underutilized, other usages in these bands may not have been considered by the stakeholder, such as the use of the band 5000-5150 MHz for airport radar surface applications by airport authorities.

Spectrum Demand

There are areas that experience a higher degree of usage and some congestion, as noted below:

Pressure Points:

  • There is high usage in bands 108-137 MHz and 328-335 MHz in certain areas where spectrum has started to experience some congestion for all services. This is the case for the Toronto-Montreal cross-section, where the spectrum is saturated due to the close vicinity to the Northeastern U.S. aviation corridor;
  • The band 108-11.975 MHz, available for ILS localizer frequencies, is lacking particularly in dense cities;
  • Congestion in VHF communications band 117.975-137 MHz used at all airports;
  • The need for additional MATS/AMT spectrum to supplement the 40 MHz in the band 2360-2400 MHz was raised by two users. Industry Canada has initiated public processes, as outlined in section 6.9.3, to consider additional spectrum for MATS/AMT;
  • Systems and applications in the 960-5150 MHz range needing additional frequencies are:
    • Distance-measurement equipment (DME) in the band 992-1024 MHz;
    • Secondary-surveillance radars in the band 1030-1090 MHz; and
    • New generation of surveillance systems in the band 5000-5150 MHz.

6.9.5 Conclusion

Aeronautical services use international frequency allocations, internationally set and followed standards and technologies based on ITU and ICAO requirements. Sometimes it can take from 15 to 25 years to migrate legacy technology systems to new digital installations.

It has been reported that all aeronautical services in the band 108-137 MHz and 328-335 MHz have been experiencing further constraint and congestion. In particular the band 108-111.975 MHz assigned to ILS localizer is lacking frequencies in dense urban areas. Also congestion exists for VHF communications at all airports.

In order to meet the growing service demand, several bands in VHF, UHF and SHF will require additional frequency assignments in the period to 2015.

6.10 Maritime Mobile Service

6.10.1 Overview

The maritime mobile service is defined as: "A mobile service between coast stations and ship stations, or between ship stations, or between associated onboard communications stations; survivor craft stations and emergency position-indicating radio-beacons may also participate in this service." Maritime mobile service provides a wide range of communication services to vessels operating in international waters, coastal areas, and inland lakes and waterways. It includes communications with coast-guard ships, aircrafts, and shore facilities for search and rescue, security and sovereignty. Maritime mobile services provide a means of communications for the day-to-day activities of the maritime community, as well as providing the critical safety link for the protection of life and property at sea.

Because safety of life on water is an international concern, compatibility among stations authorized by all nations is preferable. Therefore, many of the maritime standards are established by international agreements administered by the ITU and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The ITU and IMO regulations are the basis for the regulations established by Industry Canada and Transport Canada with the participation of the Canadian Coast Guards. One example of an international requirement is the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and the international provisions for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) communication facility requirement on vessels 300 gross tons and above.

This Study will address only the VHF maritime mobile communication band.

Today, most of the maritime mobile services use analogue technologies to communicate. However, with the emergence of new digital technologies (discussions at the ITU, as well as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the International Association of Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)) the maritime community would benefit from the switch to digital. The revision of frequencies and channel arrangements of the International Radio Regulations has begun, in order to allow the implementation of new digital technologies for maritime mobile service.

The VHF mobile maritime band plan in the band 156-162.5 MHz has more than 100 frequency channels carefully designated to a wide range of maritime applications and to particular regional operations (see Industry Canada RBR-2Footnote 46).

The main maritime communication operations (nature of service and type of traffic) provided accesses to the maritime frequencies are:

  • Inter-ship
  • Ship-to-shore
  • Commercial
  • Non-commercial
  • Safety
  • Ship movement
  • Public correspondence
  • Automatic Ship Identification and Surveillance System.
  • Vessel Traffic Services

6.10.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations has a number of bands allocated for maritime mobile and maritime radionavigation services, as shown below (Inventory Report Table 10.1, section 10.2.1 and RBR-2).

Table 6.10.1 — Frequency bands allocated to maritime services
Frequency Band (MHz)
.415 – .525
2.000 – 2.495
2.505 – 2.850
4.000 – 4.438
5.73 – 5.90
6.200 – 6.525
8.100 – 8.815
12.230 – 13.200
16.36 – 17.41
18.78 – 18.90
19.68 – 19.80
22.000 – 22.855
25.07 – 25.21
26.100 – 26.175
216 – 220
2850 – 3100
5470 – 5650
8850 – 9000
9200 – 9500

Source: Inventory Report

Allocations to the maritime mobile service are in the MF-HF bands (300-3000 kHz and 3-30 MHz) for long haul, over-the-horizon communications of ship at high seas and the VHF bands (156-162.5 MHz and 216-220 MHz ranges).

In the VHF maritime mobile bands, there are more than 200 frequencies assigned for various maritime operations and in different areas of the countries. The nature and type of traffic are: for inter-ship communications, ship/shore/commercial ships, non-commercial ships, safety, ship movement, public correspondence, automatic ship identification and surveillance systems and vessel traffic services. The areas of operations and present number of assigned frequencies are shown in Figure 6.10.2 (Industry Canada RBR-2), below.

Figure 6.10.2 — Number of frequencies assigned to maritime mobile service, by areas

Number of frequencies assigned to maritime mobile service, by areas (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Industry Canada RBR-2 and Red Mobile Analysis

Description of Figure 6.10.2

This pie chart provides the number of frequencies assigned to maritime mobile service, by areas.

Number of frequencies assigned to maritime mobile service, by areas
Area Number of Frequencies
BCC 62
WC 35
GL 44
AC 45
NL 36
EC 54


All Areas (AA), as represented below, add to 225 frequency assignments:

  • East Coast (EC): NL, AC, GL and Eastern Arctic areas
  • NL: Newfoundland and Labrador
  • AC: Atlantic Coast, Gulf and St. Lawrence River, up to and including Montréal
  • GL: Great Lakes (including St. Lawrence above Montréal)
  • WC (West Coast): BCC, Western Arctic and Athabasca-Mackenzie Watershed areas
  • BCC: British Columbia Coast (Pacific Coast)
  • INLD BC: Inland Waters of BC and the Yukon
  • INLD PRA: Inland Waters of MB, SK, and AB

The major maritime users are Fisheries And Oceans Canada (incl. Coast Guard), commercial fishing fleets, commercial vessels and pleasure crafts. The maritime mobile service applications are for emergency, weather channels, automatic ship identification and surveillance (AIS), port operation and other uses.

The Canadian maritime mobile service has a distribution of coast stations, according to the maritime ship activities. Industry Canada RBR-2 provides information on the use of maritime mobile services (number of licences for coastal stations and vessels stations). Due to the limited information on licences and assignments in Canada, spectrum trends based on the numbers of assignments are not representative of this type of service. The maritime community, with the involvement of several international organizations, has been implementing new digital technologies. However, since this is a worldwide endeavour, the changes are slow.

6.10.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

As comments were not received on the VHF maritime mobile services from stakeholders, the information below is a summary of the research conducted from secondary sources.

  • The U.S. NTIA Report forecasts a continuing need for maritime mobile communications in the band 156-162 MHz for, at least, the next 10 years. Narrowbanding the entire band to 12.5 kHz channels would provide additional channels. However, the implementation of narrowband maritime mobile must accommodate international interoperability requirements, as maritime services are global in nature. Thus, maritime services used by large commercial vessels operating at high seas, coastline ports and waterways may consist of a multitude of radio systems. These may include maritime mobile stations, marine radars for surveillance and collision avoidance, satellite radionavigation (such as GPS), mobile satellite communications, HF and MF over-the horizon communications.
  • It has been noted, as an example, that during the search-and-rescue operation of the Swiss Air disaster (September 1998) off the coast of Nova Scotia, there was a shortage of public safety and maritime mobile frequency to accommodate the wide range of activities among first respondents and civilian fishing boats. The development of communication plans for emergency situations along coastal waters would improve the availability of adequate frequency contingency.
  • Although not originally developed to provide maritime mobile service, cellphones are becoming the communications tool of choice (in-land waterways, along coastal waters), especially for small boat owners not required to carry a VHF maritime mobile radio. A mobile satellite provides full-service coverage and is extensively used by large vessels, cruise ships and large ocean pleasure crafts.

6.10.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Assessing Future Demand for Maritime Spectrum

The foregoing information and analyses, contained in sections 6.10.2 and 6.10.3, provide limited information to assist in projecting future demand for maritime spectrum. The information used includes:

  • The frequency bands allocated to maritime mobile service and other maritime services;
  • Industry Canada RBR-2 on VHF maritime mobile assignments and service applications.

The approach was to identify any shortage of spectrum for maritime service, based on these limited sources of information. Fisheries And Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard had been invited to comment on maritime service and spectrum needs.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

The observations and findings are based on the Inventory Report and research. Maritime services are specialized radio applications, which are based on international requirements for mobile and radionavigation systems to ensure safe operation of maritime transportation and industry, military vessels and pleasure crafts. The use of spectrum is based on the organizations responsible for the installations and operation of major coastal communications and radionavigation systems for their own use and that of the maritime industry. The Canadian maritime mobile service has a distribution of coast stations according to the maritime ship activities.

Maritime mobile service uses international frequency allocations, universal standards and technology, based on ITU and IMO requirements. It takes a long period to migrate old technology system to new digital installations.

Spectrum Demand

Although some shipping ports' communications and operations heavily use the VHF maritime band, no apparent shortage of maritime spectrum has been identified in the VHF maritime mobile bands.

  • On occasion, cases of interference were identified on channels assigned for pleasure craft communications.
  • Communication plans should be developed for sudden demand of frequencies during large-scale disasters.
  • DND indicated no congestion expected with marine radars bands.

6.10.5 Conclusion

This Study's research does not identify any additional spectrum requirements in the 2010 to 2015 period.

However, in certain areas due to extensive maritime activities, particular VHF maritime communication frequencies will experience heavy usage and saturation.

It is expected that Canada will continue to follow international standards, allocation plans and particular maritime mobile frequency designations should continue. Over time, more spectrum-efficient maritime mobile technology should increase the communications capacity of the assigned spectrum.

6.11 Military Services

6.11.1 Overview

The Department of National Defence (DND) is responsible for ensuring the security and sovereignty of Canada, for engaging in peace, conflict and war missions in various regions of the world; for supporting missions with NATO allies (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), for protecting North America, alongside the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) alliance. Canadian spectrum allocations support critical military operation needs, while keeping in mind the importance of certain bands for commercial services.

The DND uses a wide range of radio communications systems, some built mainly for civil use, such as aeronautical and maritime systems, commercial satellites facilities, and others are specialized military systems to provide enhanced aeronautical and maritime services, communications and radionavigation satellites and unique radiodetermination service applications (radiolocation and radionavigation) for mission-critical operations.

The DND is assigned a total of 175 MHz of critical exclusive spectrum to manage on its own in the range 225-400 MHz (harmonized with NATO military operation) for various operations. Some mobile satellite spectrum in the 7/8 GHz and Ka-bands provide for military satellites used by the NATO members, including the DND.

Maritime radio-navigational systems and met aid satellites are based on the availability of spectrum, which is based on international frequency allocations. A few years ago, spectrum was designated for the DND's tactical mobile aeronautical services in the 14 and 15 GHz bands, which also provided for un-manned aeronautical vehicle (UAV). Spectrum for mobile aeronautical telemetry systems (MATS/AMT) in band 2360-2400 MHz was also assigned to the DND, of which part of the band is shared with the aerospace industry and public safety.

The DND shares several fixed and mobile frequency bands with civil and government users. Spectrum is needed for maritime military training operations conducted with Allies along coastal Canadian waters. Furthermore, when land military bases require additional spectrum for training operations, frequency assignments are made readily available for these major land and sea operations.

6.11.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Industry Canada Inventory Report does not summarize spectrum used by the military. However, a number of frequency allocation provisions are made in the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations, which give spectrum priority access to the Canadian Government, and, in part, for the DND military operation. The spectrum access priority is made through Canadian footnotes, such as C12, C15, C16A, C25, C27, C49 and C50. Also, a number of bands are assigned to maritime services, aeronautical services, radiodetermination, radionavigation, space science and other specialized services, which include DND military operations.

Information extracted from a presentation made at the Spectrum Conference 20/20 in 2010Footnote 47 provides a good overview of spectrum assigned to DND and the Government, either as a dedicated or a shared resource. We summarize this here:

Spectrum Exclusively for Government Users:

  • 52-300 MHz range: 75 MHz harmonized with NATO;
  • 300-960 MHz range: 100 MHz harmonized with NATO; and
  • 10-18 GHz range: Radiolocation (20% of spectrum) – Airborne radar (military) and aeronautical radionavigation (mostly for military use).

Spectrum Shared Between Government and Private Users:

  • 52-300 MHz range: 12% of this spectrum is used for aeronautical services by civil and military users, specifically for voice, ILS and VHF Navigation Aids.
  • 960-3000 MHz range: 32% of spectrum is used for aeronautical services
    • Band 960-1215 MHz is used for secondary surveillance radar, distance/bearing measuring equipment;
    • Band 2700-2900 MHz is used for radionavigation.
  • 3-10 GHz range: 37% of this spectrum range is used for radiolocation
    • Band 4200-4400 MHz is used for aircraft altimeters;
    • Band 5600-5650 MHz is used for weather radar;
    • Band 8.5-10.5 GHz is used for coastal radar and airports; and
    • Band 8025-8400 MHz is used for RADARSAT
  • 10-18 GHz range: 9.4% of this spectrum is used for radiolocation
    • Band 10-10.5 GHz is used for speed measuring radar and earth exploration;
    • Band 10.6-10.7 GHz is used for meteorological; and
    • Band 13.25-13.75 GHz is used for passive and active sensors
  • 18-38 GHz range: 23% of spectrum has shared government use
    • Bands 18 GHz, 23 GHz, and 31 GHz is used for earth exploration, meteorological and passive sensors; and
    • Band 25.5-27 GHz is used for data links

A collaborative approach exists between Industry Canada and the defence department to address military spectrum needs and to re-farm some government spectrum for commercial and private use. For example, in recent years, some government allocations and spectrum-sharing arrangements have been made for the mutual benefit of all users. This was the case for:

  • Designating new spectrum for medical telemetry devices in the band 1395-1400 MHz already occupied by radiodetermination (radar) systems;
  • Designating new licence-exempt spectrum at 5400 MHz for consumer devices shared with radiodetermination;
  • Assignment of WCS wireless service and SDAR radio satellites in the lower 2300 MHz band; and
  • Relocation of the military MATS/AMT operation.

On the other hand, National Defence was assigned spectrum in the 14/15 GHz bands to support tactical data links on aircraft for land deployments and maritime coastal patrol. Other bands were assigned to the military, such as the 902-928 MHz for their ship-borne radars and protection of the 3400-3475 MHz as a NORAD radar band. The military uses many frequency bands assigned for general use, such as fixed and mobile services. A number of allocations and assignments, such as MATS/AMT, radiodetermination and radionavigation, are used for both civil and government applications.

6.11.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Comments received from the Department of National Defence are summarized below:

  • Some of the bands critical for military operations are:
    • The band 225-400 MHz is exclusively used by military for Air/Ground/Air communications and tactical radio relay and is a critical band for NATO and NORAD operation;
    • The band 2360-2400 MHz is designated for mobile aeronautical telemetry (MATS/AMT) and assigned to DND with sharing of upper 10 MHz with public safety and aerospace manufacturers (under coordination with DND);
    • The band 4400-4940 MHz is used by air and land forces;
    • The newly assigned 14/15 GHz band is used to support the tactical data links in major domestic deployments and maritime coastal patrol aircraft.
  • DND does not see immediate congestion in the 2300 MHz MATS/AMT band, although sharing with other users is becoming difficult;
  • Spectrum assigned to existing radiocommunication military equipment assets can be reused in the modernization of similar equipment assets, such as new fleets of aircraft, frigates, combat mobile radios, etc. Major changes in military equipment assets with the same radiocommunication applications will not entail large-scale changes in spectrum resources.

The DND has commented separately on a number of other services important to its operations, namely: space sciences, radiodetermination, aeronautical and maritime services, backhaul microwave, land mobile and satellite. The DND's comments are considered separately as part of those services. For example, the spectrum need for mobile aeronautical telemetry service is discussed with other users under the Aeronautical Services section.

6.11.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Assessing Spectrum Demand for Military Service

The foregoing information, contained in sections 6.11.2 and 6.11.3, provides information to assist in assessing spectrum demand for military service. The information includes:

  • Frequency bands assigned for military critical missions and NATO and NORAD obligations;
  • Allocation provisions for government/military needs;
  • The multiplicity of radio services; and
  • DND comments on its operations and spectrum needs (including DND's comments in other service sections of this Report).

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Military radio systems provide specialized radio applications, which are grounded on national requirements to ensure national security and sovereignty and to meet international military obligations. The use of spectrum by military is not driven by commercial demand of particular services and products, but by certain radiocommunication applications and operations for critical missions.

In addition, some of the many radio systems critical to the military operations are:

  • National aeronautical radionavigation systems used by civilian and military aviation in the 74/108/328/960/5030 bands;
  • Army combat net radio in the 30-108 MHz VHF range;
  • Ship radars (902-928 MHz);
  • Airborne surveillance radars (2700-2800 MHz);
  • Radio altimeter (4200-4400 MHz);
  • Airborne and ship radars (5350-5460 MHz);
  • Radar applications: DND and Coast Guard (9000-9500 MHz);
  • Airborne radar applications (13.25-13.4 and 15.4-15.7 GHz);
  • Airborne tactical data links to support the major domestic deployments and maritime coastal patrol aircraft (sub-bands at 14/15 GHz).

Over the years, Industry Canada has planned the spectrum for military services to effectively meet Canada's security and sovereignty objectives and missions. Industry Canada has been able to balance the spectrum needs of the military and maximize the commercial/private requirements and benefits.

Some spectrum-management best practices expected to be maintained are as follows:

  • To identify new military spectrum requirements for five to 10 years in advance;
  • To minimize the assignment of exclusive spectrum to government services (including military) and maximize the sharing of band between civil/government applications; and
  • To encourage the modernization of military systems within the existing bands with more spectrum-efficient technology.

Spectrum Demand

For all, but the aeronautical mobile telemetry, it is anticipated that the existing spectrum will accommodate the service and system operation demands of all the military operations in the next five years. Some of the pressure points are identified below:

Pressure Points:

  • There is increasing demand for a small amount of spectrum designated for MATS/AMT in the band 2360-2400 MHz by DND, the aerospace manufacturing industry and public safety. The existing MATS/AMT spectrum will not accommodate all the needs over the next five years;
  • Demand for spectrum, which supports obstacle collision-avoidance systems for towers and windmills, is expected to increase in the 1240-1340 MHz band. However, the low-power operation of these collision-warning systems will not likely impact the primary use of this band for radiodetermination service;
  • Radar systems (weather and military) will be modernized within existing bands. However, these new radar systems will be more sensitive to radio services operating in adjacent bands;
  • No additional spectrum need has been identified for UAV for the 2010-2015 period.

The vast range of radiocommunication applications to support military assets and operations requires long-term investments. Complex military radio systems can have operating lives of 10 to 20 years or more. In most cases, especially for radar facilities, these systems are modernized in the same spectrum. However, the military's demand for spectrum for some of these services and systems is projected as follows:

  • Continue to grow for Air/Ground/Air communications and tactical radio relay to meet more complex missions in the exclusive military band 225-400 MHz (harmonized with NATO);
  • High for aeronautical mobile telemetry in band 2360-2400 MHz;
  • High for national aeronautical radionavigation services in the 108/328 MHz bands; and
  • Extensive in the civil/military band 960-1370 MHz for radionavigation and aeronautical radionavigation services and satellite positioning (GPS), radars and other systems.

Any growth of service and modernization of radar systems, radionavigation systems and others is foreseen to be accommodated within the existing assigned spectrum. For example, the modernization of the Canadian frigate ship radar and communications; the electronics for the new F-35; and aeronautical telemetry links with UAV drones, all can be done within existing spectrum designations.

6.11.5 Conclusion

In many instances, the identification of new spectrum for major military systems tends to be a collaboration within the NATO countries and the NORAD organization. New spectrum are identified several years in advance, and requirements are negotiated at appropriate ITU committees and WRC conferences to gain appropriate International Allocations and regulatory status in the ITU Table of Frequency Allocations.

The military is expected to continue to modernize its assets within the existing spectrum assigned, to share some of the spectrum with government and civil users and to collaborate to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently and meets the highest needs.

It is expected that additional spectrum will be needed for AMT service, while taking into account the availability of equipment. Other than for AMT services, additional demand for new spectrum has not been identified for the 2010-2015 period.

6.12 Radiodetermination Services

6.12.1 Overview

Radiodetermination services include a range of radionavigation and radiolocation systems. These systems provide a variety of service applications critical to military operation, civil aviation and maritime transportation, monitoring weather and many other services. These systems include radionavigation on ships and aircraft, weather (wind shear) radar networks, military surveillance and weaponry radars.

Frequency allocations for radiodetermination services (radionavigation and radiolocation) are assigned worldwide. Many systems operating under these services, such as weather radar networks and radar used for navigation of ships and aircraft, are critical to the safety of life and property. Different frequency ranges are necessary for the radiolocation service to satisfy particular mission requirements, and the current allocations reflect the variety of objectives for these systems. Canada's radiodetermination bands and systems are closely aligned with those of the U.S. and the international community.

In the frequency range from 52 MHz to 38 GHz, the radionavigation service has 3210 MHz (8.4%) of primary allocated spectrum. Radiolocation service has 8671 MHz (22.8%) of primary allocated spectrum. Some frequency bands (i.e. 2300-2500 MHz, 24 050-24 250 MHz) that are allocated to the radiolocation service have been rearranged in the past 10 years to accommodate other services. As technology advances, other services may be able to take advantage of the geographical concentrations of radiolocation systems and share spectrum in certain areas.

6.12.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Inventory Report (section 11) lists the spectrum allocations for radionavigation and radiolocation as listed in Table 6.12.1, below.

In general, the numbers of assignments for radio-determination in most of the bands has been relatively stable over the past 12 years (Figure 6.12.1, below).

However, as these systems become more sensitive and sophisticated, they may require more bandwidth.

Table 6.12.1 — Spectrum allocation for radionavigation and radiolocation in Canada
Radionavigation Radiolocation
1300-1350 MHz
2900-3100 MHz
5460-5470 MHz
9300-9800 MHz
15700-16200 MHz
24250-24650 MHz
31800-33400 MHz
430-450 MHz
902-928 MHz
1215-1390 MHz
2300-2500 MHz
2900-3500 MHz
3100-3450 MHz
5250-5850 MHz
8500-10550 MHz
13400-14000 MHz
15700-17300 MHz
24050-24250 MHz
33400-36000 MHz

Source: Inventory Report, Section 11.2.1

The forthcoming WRC 2012 Conference will consider a potential primary allocation of radiolocation service in the band 15.4-15.7 GHz.

Table 6.12.2 — Number of assignments and area of operation
Service Band (MHz) Location No. of Frequency Assignments
Radiolocation 430-450 Mostly rural > 4000
Radiolocation 902-928 Limited to coastline 0 (ships not licensed)
Radiolocation and radionavigation 1215-1390 East/West Coast
Northern Canada
99 radionavigation
1430 radiolocation
Radiolocation 2700-2900 Airborne commercial and military 9
Radionavigation 2900-3100 Across Canada 128
Radionavigation 5250-5850 Across Canada 35 Environment Canada weather radar, 9 other
Across Canada Heavily used and some growth
> 500 radiolocation
1 weather radar
> 1000 aircraft
Radiolocation 13400-14000 Limited use in Canada > 400 aircraft station
1 radiolocation
Across Canada 21 aircraft
400 low power
Radiolocation 33400-36000 Across Canada 60

Source: Inventory Report, Section 11.3.2

Figure 6.12.1, below, illustrates the historic trends in the relevant bands.

Figure 6.12.1 — Trends for frequency bands during the period of 1998 to 2010

Trends for frequency bands during the period of 1998 to 2010 (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Inventory Report

Description of Figure 6.12.1

This figure shows the trends for frequency bands during the period 1998-2010.

1215-1400 MHz: Starts at around 2,500 assignments in 1998 and gradually starts decreasing over the years to 2,200 from 2002 to 2004, decreasing to 2,000 by 2006. From 2006 and on, the number of assignments increases slowly to about 2,100 by 2010.

2900-3100 MHz – the number of assignments remain steady at around 250 from 1998-2010.

8500-10000 MHz – Starts at around 1,750 assignments, and gradually drops to about 1,400 by 2006, and starts increasing again to about 1,600 by 2010.

10000-10450 MHz – the number of assignments starts at about 1,200 assignments decreasing slowly to 1,000 by 2004, and increases to about 1,450 by 2006. From 2006 to 2010, the number decreases slightly to about 1,400.

15700-17300 MHz – The number remains steady at about 700 assignments from 1998 to 2006, rising slightly to 750 by 2008, and dropping to 500 in 2010.

33400-36000 MHz – Remains steady at about 100 assignments from 1998 to 2006, increasing slightly to about 200 assignments by 2008and through to 2010.

Spectrum Utilization

In a 2010 Spectrum 20/20 Industry Canada's presentationFootnote 48, the following distribution of radiodetermination spectrum assignment was summarized:

Exclusive Spectrum Assignments for Radiodetermination

  • 10-18 GHz range: 20% of the spectrum is used for radiolocation, such as airborne radar (military); and 5.6% of the spectrum is used for aeronautical radionavigation.

Shared Spectrum

  • 960-3000 MHz range: 32% of spectrum is used for aeronautical; band 960-1215 MHz for secondary surveillance radar, distance/bearing measuring equipment; band 2700-2900 MHz is used for radionavigation;
  • 3-10 GHz range: 37% of the spectrum is used for radiolocation; band 5600-5650 MHz for weather radar; band 8.5-10.5 GHz for coastal radar and airports.
  • 10-18 GHz range: band 10-10.5 GHz for radiolocation speed-measuring radar.

Section 11.3.1 of the Inventory Report provides a detail spectrum utilization of the various radionavigation and radiolocation bands listed in Table 6.12.1, above. For most of the bands, information is provided on the major users and radiodetermination applications; this includes map/location of the radar installations across Canada for the Northern Warning System (1215-1390 MHz) and the weather radar systems (5600-5650 MHz).

Some examples are:

  • The aeronautical radionavigation services tend to operate across the country, such as the band 1300-1350 MHz for radionavigation stations located in Southern Canada.
  • Terrestrial radionavigation in the band 9300-9800 MHz supports maritime radionavigation along coastal waters and in-land waterways, which are operated by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to monitor vessel traffic.
  • The 9300 MHz radionavigation band accommodates the air traffic control operations.
  • Many of the radiolocation (radar) bands are used for critical military operations and by other government users, such as the CCG, DFO and Environment Canada. Terrestrial radiolocation or radar installations tend to operate in specific areas of the country to achieve specific missions. These include NORAD's Early Warning Radar System in Northern Canada and the Eastern Seaboard in the 1215-1390 MHz range; ship-borne radar in coastal waters, and high sea and navigational waterways at 902-928 MHz; and weather radars near airports across Canada in the 5600-5650 MHz band. The 9300-9800 MHz band is also used by commercial ship-borne radar on ships, ranging from pleasure craft to large carrier vessels. In general, the band 8500-10550 MHz is heavily used for several radar applications.

6.12.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Comments were received from Environment Canada, DND, Transport Canada and NAV CANADA. The highlights of these comments are as follows:

Environment Canada (EC)

  • The timely warning of impending natural and environmental disasters, accurate climate prediction and detailed understanding of the status of global water resources are all critically important everyday issues for the global community.
  • National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) around the world, such as the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) of Environment Canada (EC), are responsible for providing this information.
  • Radio-frequencies represent key resources used by NMHS to measure and collect the observation data upon which analyses and predictions are produced and disseminated.
  • Meteorological radars and wind-profiler radars are important surface-based installations in the meteorological observation processes. There are currently about one hundred wind-profiler radars, and several hundreds of meteorological radars worldwide that perform precipitation, wind measurements and immediate meteorological and hydrological alert processes. The Canadian national meteorological radar network consists of 31 meteorological Doppler radars spread across Canada (30 C-band (5600-5650 MHz) and one S-band (2700-2900 MHz)). C-band continues to be the optimum solution for the Canadian climate however EC is planning to add S-band (~2700-3000 MHz) and X-band (~9300-9800 MHz) radars into the Canadian meteorological radar network in the next three to five to 10 years.
  • In addition, EC uses data from the three McGill X-band radars (9300-9400 MHz) for operational and research purposes, operates a number of X-band research radars itself (9200-9700 MHz), and has plans for dual polarization X-band Doppler radars in Iqaluit and at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments (CARE) in Egbert.
  • Three wind profilers owned by EC operate at the 915 MHz band, and EC has been supporting the development of the O-QNet (Ontario-Quebec Network) of Canadian wind profilers in 40-55 MHz.
  • EC operates the Canadian Ice Service (CIS), and, as such, is the primary user of RADARSAT data (RADARSAT I (currently 5255-5350 MHz) and RADARSAT II (currently 5350-5460 MHz) for snow, ice and sea ice mapping and classification, to locate excessive wet/dry areas, and for soil-moisture mapping. Also a "Side-Looking-Airborne-Radar" (SLAR) operating in the band 2300-2450 MHz aboard a Dash-7 aircraft is used for Arctic ice reconnaissance.
  • EC developed, deployed and operates the Precipitation Occurrence Sensor System (POSS) in a network of about 95 automatic weather stations across Canada. The POSS is a low-power vertically pointing radar, centred at 10.525 GHz complying with IC RSS-210.
  • EC uses data from space-borne EESS active systems in research or operational mode.
  • Depending on research projects, EC Science and Technology temporally uses radars from other organizations in the S-, C-, X-, K-, Ka- or W-bandFootnote 49.
  • Meteorological Aids, mainly radiosondes, are the main source of atmospheric in-situ measurements with high vertical resolution to provide real-time vertical atmospheric profiles that are, and will remain, essential for operational meteorology, including weather analysis, prediction and warnings, as well as for climate monitoring. In addition, these in-situ measurements are essential for calibrating space-borne remote sensing, in particular, passive.
  • The radiosonde network is the backbone of the Canadian Upper Air Program and consists of 31 regular radiosonde stations spread throughout Canada, maintained and operated by EC with balloon launches twice daily. There are also six units, to be used in the event of an environmental emergency, and the occasional upper-air observations that are carried out at various bases and on ships by the Department of National Defence (DND).
  • EC operates its national network of radiosondes (weather balloons) in the MetAids service in the band 401-406 MHz.
  • The radiosonde network of the Canadian Upper Air Program is transitioning over to digital GPS.


  • A number of frequency bands, to support various radiodetermination applications critical for the operation and safety of aviation transportation, are used by NAV CANADA:
    • Bands 1030-1090 MHz and 1030-1090 MHz are used for secondary surveillance radar and multilateration systems (MLAT);
    • Band 1240-1350 MHz is used as primary radar for surveillance of airborne aircraft near major airports;
    • Band 9300-9800 MHz are used for airport surface surveillance (ASDE) for terrestrial movement surveillance at major airports.
  • The band 1030-1090 MHz (Secondary Surveillance Radar, MLAT and ADS-B) paired with GPS signals will start to be heavily used in the next five years.
  • The band 1240-1350 MHz, for aeronautical radionavigation and radiolocation (primary radar), is used to operate 24 primary surveillance radars. There is no plan for additional radars in this band for the next five years. Obstacle Collision Avoidance Systems (OCAS) installed by non-aviation third parties, such as hydro companies and wind-farm operators for aviation safety, may increase in the southern area of the country in the band 1240-1340.
  • Band 2700-3300 MHz for primary radar offers a possible alternative to the 1240-1350 MHz radars. No plan for such radar equipment in the next five-year horizon.

Transport Canada (TC)

  • TC comments are on civil aviation requirements. From the perspective of TC, radionavigation radars operating in the bands ranging from 1300 MHz to 33.4 GHz are not likely to see any significant modernization in the next five years.
  • Radionavigation systems whether terrestrial or airborne provide a safety service in allocations that are given special measures of protection from harmful interference in accordance with the Radio Regulations.
  • Typically, these legacy systems have a relatively long life cycle and can operate for many years. Traditionally, by design, these systems have an increased probability of target detection from increased bandwidth usage; some designs can use multiple frequency hopping techniques.
  • Whether there are 20 targets or 250 targets within the range of one radionavigation radar, it does not technically change the bandwidth requirement or the need for additional spectrum for the system to perform its designed function.
  • A variety of systems are used to support aeronautical safety-of-life functions. As described in the Aeronautical section, the growth in the industry, in terms of the number of flights and passengers flown, does not equate to a direct need for additional spectrum, or point to expected congestion in specific frequency bands. It is, therefore, very difficult to provide any realistic expectation of additional spectrum growth.
  • Therefore, it is reasonable to say that user expectation on the availability of these safety services in specific bands would be the same as it has been in the last several years.


  • DND operates radars in many bands for radiodetermination service:
    • North Warning System (NWS) consists of radars located across the arctic to monitor North American airspace.
    • Radars are installed on all Canadian Forces ships and aircraft, as well a limited number of ground-based radars used by the Land Forces.
  • The band of greatest use is the 9400 MHz band, but is not expecting congestion. The use of radionavigation spectrum has been stable over the past few years.
  • DND does not forecast additional spectrum for radionavigation, and modernization will unlikely release currently used spectrum.
  • DND does not anticipate congestion in the radiolocation bands and will not require additional spectrum for radiolocation.

Research Analysis

In addition to the aforementioned, it can be noted that the band 1240-1350 MHz is used for aeronautical radionavigation and radiolocation (primary radar) and provides for 24 primary surveillance radar installations. Aviation safety, wind-farm operations and hydro applications use Obstacle Collision Avoidance System (OCAS) in the band 1240-1340 MHz to detect approaching airplane in the area and to turn on flashing lights on towers to warn aircrafts of obstacle danger. These OCAS operate with low power, and are, therefore, manageable without any impact on the availability of spectrum for primary radar installations and future growth.

6.12.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Assessing Future Demand for Radiodetermination Spectrum

The foregoing information and analyses, contained in sections 6.12.2 and 6.12.3, provides the information base to assist in assessing future spectrum demand for radiodetermination service. The information used includes:

  • The frequency bands allocated to radionavigation and radiolocations;
  • The number of assignment for installations in various bands;
  • Trends and the band-by-band usage/users (Inventory Report, section 11.3.1); and
  • Input from the main users.

The users' views are important in projecting the demand for spectrum for particular applications.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Radiodetermination services include a range of radionavigation and radiolocation systems. These systems provide a wide range of service applications critical to military operation, to civil aviation and maritime transportation, to monitoring weather and for many other services. They include radionavigation on ship and aircrafts, weather radar networks, military surveillance and weaponry radars.

There is continued service demand for a wide range of radionavigation and radiolocation radar applications critical to security, safety and protection of life and properties. Among the major systems and services requiring long-term spectrum are the following:

  • The Northern Warning System (series of radar stations in the1215-1390 MHz range located across Northern Canada and the East coast) provides strategic aerospace surveillance as part of North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD).
  • Aeronautical radionavigation stations (sub-band 1300-1390 MHz) operate across Southern Canada provide navigation service.
  • Radionavigation and radiolocation service (2900-3100 MHz) is used on government aircrafts and ships.
  • Meteorological radar stations (5600-5650 MHz), located across Southern Canada, provide the detection of severe weather patterns, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, wind shear and turbulence.
  • Radionavigation radar stations (9300-9800 MHz) provide for air traffic control, maritime monitoring of vessel traffic, by commercial ship-borne radar (large vessels to pleasure crafts).

The Inventory Report indicates that the numbers of assignments in the radionavigation and radiolocation services have been relatively stable over the past 12 years. As these systems are modernized or replaced to be more sensitive and sophisticated in the future, existing spectrum will be used. It may result, however, in requiring more bandwidth.

The upcoming WRC 2012 Conference will consider a potential primary allocation of radiolocation service in the band 15.4-15.7 GHz.

Radiodetermination services accommodate vital installations for government and industrial operations and represent large investments for 20 years and beyond. Spectrum resource is essential for the continued operations and modernization of these important radiolocation and radionavigation systems.

As such, the demand for the wide range of radionavigation and radiodetermination applications is expected to continue and to modestly grow to meet increasing levels of service activities by the various users. The military is the large user of radar-base services.

There will be a continued reliance on weather radar, RADARSAT, Meteorological satellite and other systems by Environment Canada. In general, most radionavigation and radiodetermination service demand can be met with existing primary radar installations over the next five years.

Spectrum Demand

Figure 6.12.1 (above) shows that in general, the numbers of assignments for radiodetermination in most of the bands has been relatively stable over the past 12 years. This trend is expected to continue, with gradual modernization of select systems to support more sensitive and sophisticated operation, which may require more bandwidth.

No areas of critical shortage of spectrum were identified. Radiodetermination systems have a long operating life, and new service requirements are often met in modernizing existing installations.

Pressure Points:

  • The band 5600-5650 MHz for weather radar stations across Canada must be protected (as these radar stations are modernized and become more sensitive, including to out-of-band emissions).
  • Radar systems (weather and military) will be modernized within existing bands but will be more sensitive to adjacent spectrum services.

6.12.5 Conclusion

The Study's research is based mainly on stakeholder input, which outlines the wide array of radiodetermination system operations. The importance of the various systems is well documented.

Meteorological radars and wind-profiler radars are important for timely warning of impending natural and environmental disasters. Therefore, continued spectrum is required for these essential services.

We expect that radiodetermination systems will continue to be modernized within existing frequency bands.

The identification of new spectrum for radio determination tends to be collaboration of the needs of ITU members, and important to Canada are the needs of the NATO countries. WRC 2012 Conference will consider a potential of making a primary allocation of radiolocation service in the band 15.4-15.7 GHz.

It is believed that, with continued efficient spectrum usage, the existing frequency bands assigned to various radiodetermination services (radiolocation and radionavigation) should ensure that adequate spectrum is in place to meet the service operation of existing and new systems for the period to 2015.

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