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

6.13 Space Science Services

6.13.1 Overview

The ITU-R Table of Frequency Allocations specifies a number of bands for Earth exploration satellite, space research, space operation and radio astronomy services as co-primary with other radio services. Administrations may assign some of these bands on a permanent use or temporary basis to particular space science institutions (i.e. research institute, space agency, a university, etc.), according to the space activities in their countries.

In Canada, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) carries out a number of space science projects, often with other space agencies, such as NASA and ESA, which may have particular spectrum requirements. A major Canadian program is the use of earth exploration satellite service (EESS) allocations to operate a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) called RADARSAT. Among the various space science projects is the use of very small satellites to study the atmosphere, in collaboration with universities and the CSA. The National Research Council (NRC) is responsible for the operation of an astronomy observatory station in Penticton, B.C., where a radio-quiet zone is maintained around the site. Environment Canada is a large user of space science services, including weather radars, RADARSAT, Met Aids and constellation of meteorological satellites to predict environment changes and provide meteorological forecasts.

Canadian satellite operators have provided satellite orbital maintenance services to foreign satellite networks, such as a U.S. satellite radio network, Iridium LEO satellite constellation and others, which may use space operation frequencies at satellite operation and control stations at a few locations in Canada. Also, Canadian commercial satellite network operators may require certain frequencies, particularly in the 2 GHz space operation allocation, as tele-control, telemetry and command (TT&C) during the launch phase of new satellites.

Space science services covers a wide range of different radio systems, including systems for space operation, space research, earth exploration and meteorology, remote sensing, and radio astronomy, and standard frequency and time-signal services. Some of the main users of space services have provided an outline of their activities and projections of service use. In some areas, they have identified difficulty in securing frequencies for certain space missions. In other areas, they have expressed the importance of these services and the criticality of maintaining existing resources.

For some space services, the spectrum demand is driven by research in new applications and particular space missions. Space services also have an immediate and direct impact on the commercial and resource sectors; provide critical data for weather forecasting; highly critical atmospheric events; emergency events; defence; and sovereignty monitoring; and other critical oversights. Many of the activities are subject to obtaining government research and operation financing, rather than being based upon commercial demand and financing.

Unlike commercial services, space science spectrum demand is not assessed using past and future service demand projections. An assessment is best based on the aggregations of projects and missions that may identify a shortage of spectrum.

Space agencies have a wide range of projects in operation and in the planning stage, which needs to be treated as projects requiring spectrum on an ongoing or future basis. Many of these projects are developed in cooperation or in partnership with NASA, the ESA and other international space agencies. The Canadian space program, spectrum-based projects and spectrum use are summarized in the Inventory Report.

6.13.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Inventory Report provides an expanded list of frequency allocation bands and service applications broadly interpreted as space science services. These frequency allocation bands and space activities are listed in Inventory Report (section 8.2.1, pages 104-108) and include primary and secondary frequency allocations for earth exploration satellite service (EESS), radio astronomy, space research, space operation, meteorological aids, meteorological satellite, and standard-frequency time-signal satellite. Some of the activities are operated on a secondary basis and also in bands not allocated to space science (i.e. radio astronomy). These bands are based on the ITU Table of Frequency Allocation. In general, Canada and the United States have identical frequency bands allocated to space science services.

The Inventory Report has summarized the total amount and percentage of primary spectrum for space science in the 52 MHz to 38 GHz range as follows.

Table 6.13.1 — Spectrum assigned to various space science services
Space Science Services Total Spectrum (MHz)
Radio Astronomy 141.7
Meteorological Satellite 583.85
Meteorological Aids 837.45
Space Operaton 281.4
Space Research 8 787.25
Earth Exploration Satellite 6 964
Total Spectrum 17 595.65

Source: Inventory Report

The Inventory Report states, "Unlike other services for which spectrum allocation is based on the most suitable propagation characteristics, spectrum allocation for space science services (except space operations) is more limited to the physical phenomenon of atmospheric gases, water, cosmic rays, etc. As a result, radio spectrum for space science applications appears almost everywhere in the entire radio spectrum".

The Inventory Report (section 8.4.1, Figure 8.2, page 112) demonstrates the sharing of spectrum between space science services and other radio services as compared to the 1998 level. It indicates where some of the challenges are for space science.

Figure 6.13.1 — Radio spectrum sharing with space science (2011 compared to 1998)

Radio spectrum sharing with space science (the long description is located below the image)

Source: Inventory Report

Description of Figure 6.13.1

This table contains the total amounts of spectrum assigned to various space science services:

Radio spectrum sharing with space science
Space Science Services Total Spectrum (MHz)
Radio Astronomy 141.7
Meteorological Satellite 583.85
Meteorological Aids 837.45
Space Operation 281.4
Space Research 8,787.25
Earth Exploration Satellite 6,964
Total Spectrum 17,595.65

The following groups of agencies or Institutes use the radio spectrum in space science services:

  • Canadian Space Agency (CSA);
  • Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS);
  • Environment Canada (EC);
  • Natural Resource Canada (NRCAN);
  • National Research Council Canada (NRC), including Radio Astronomy;
  • Canadian universities.

In these groups of users, the CSA, EC and NRC are the major users of spectrum allocated for space science services. The NRC uses mostly the passive bands for continuum and spectral-line observations. The CSA is the major player in the EESS (RADARSAT 1 and 2). Environment Canada uses data from foreign satellites in the meteorological satellite service. Also, the DND makes use of RADARSAT data collected.

Spectrum Utilization

  • Space research and earth exploration satellites use Low-Earth Orbits (LEO) in the 300-to-1000-kilometre range. A number of frequency bands are used for space operation of satellites and spacecraft, as well as data-transmission purposes.
  • Existing 2 GHz bands (2025-2110 MHz as uplink and 2200-2290 MHz as downlink) are currently being used as space operation service. These bands are heavily used by fixed microwave systems. Therefore frequencies for space operation may be hard to find for earth stations located in urban centres.
  • RADARSAT operation relies on the 8 GHz band for data downlink, 5 GHz band for the sensor and 2 GHz band for TT&C.
  • A total of 30 wind-shear (weather) radars are in operation across Canada in the band 5600-5650 MHz. A wind profiler is in operation at 915 MHz and a number of others in the 40 MHz band.
  • Data from an S-band (2700-2850 MHz) and X-band (9300 MHz) research radar is used for meteorological purposes.

6.13.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

Several stakeholders submitted input to the Study, as noted below:

Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

  • An increasing number of small satellites (LEO) will require additional spectrum. Existing 2 GHz bands (2025-2110 MHz as uplink and 2200-2290 MHz as downlink) are currently being used as space operation service with a large number of fixed microwave radio systems. As a result, these bands are becoming very congested.
  • For large projects, such as RADARSAT 1 and 2, there is an additional spectrum requirement to transmit broadband data requiring bandwidths in the 8 GHz frequency range in the order of 100 MHz wide or even greater bandwidth. Additional RADARSAT tasks may require greater than 200 MHz in the 8 GHz frequency band.

Environment Canada (EC)

Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EESS, passive and active)

  • 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.
  • EC mission is to ensure that "Canadians are equipped to make informed decisions on changing weather, water and climate conditions" affecting their health, safety and economic efficiency. EC's ability to fulfil its contribution to this mission critically depends on its capacity to adequately observe the earth's surface and its atmosphere at global, regional, national and local scales.
  • To be of relevance to the services provided by EC and its objective to reduce loss of life and minimize property damage, namely through high-impact hydrometeorological event detection, monitoring, forecasting and warning, the observations must be accurate, reliable and made available in a timely manner. Radio frequencies represent scarce and key resources used by NMHS to measure and collect the observation data upon which analyses and predictions, including warnings, are based or processed, and to disseminate this information to governments, policy makers, disaster management organisations, commercial interests and the general public.
  • Space-borne sensing of the Earth's surface and atmosphere has an essential and increasing importance in operational and research meteorology, in particular for mitigating the impact of weather and climate-related disasters, and in the scientific understanding, monitoring and prediction of climate change and its impacts.
  • Space-borne passive sensing for meteorological applications is performed in bands allocated to the Earth exploration-satellite (passive) and meteorological satellite services.
  • Space-borne active sensing, performed in particular by altimeters for ocean and ice observations, scatterometers or rain and cloud radars, provides meteorological and climatology activities with important information on the state of the ocean, land surfaces and atmospheric phenomena.
  • EC uses data from space-borne EESS passive and active systems in operational and research modes.
  • EC uses data generated by a multitude of space-borne sensors operating in various frequency bands. Note that after testing, evaluation and development, bands used for R&D usually transition to operations.

Meteorological Satellite Service (MetSat)

  • EC mission is to ensure that "Canadians are equipped to make informed decisions on changing weather, water and climate conditions" affecting their health, safety and economic efficiency. EC's ability to fulfil its contribution to this mission critically depends on its capacity to adequately observe the earth's surface and its atmosphere at global, regional, national and local scales.
  • To be of relevance to the services provided by EC and its objective to reduce loss of life and minimize property damage — namely through high-impact hydrometeorological event detection, monitoring, forecasting and warning — the observations must be accurate, reliable and made available in a timely manner.
  • Of high importance is the availability of sufficient and well-protected Earth exploration and meteorological satellite services frequency spectrum for telemetry/telecommand as well as for satellite downlink of the collected data. It should be noted that the fixed-satellite service systems, through commercial payloads in the C-band and the Ku-band, are used globally to disseminate weather, water and climate related information, including disaster warnings to meteorological agencies and user communities.
  • Various Government of Canada (GOC) departments operate satellite stations in the MetSat and EESS services for use by GOC departments to fulfill their missions, especially those departments involved in the Canadian Group on Earth Observations (see, and other key stakeholders.
  • The MetSat direct broadcast service is used 24/7/365 to support EC's mission.
  • EC operates MetSat stations in the following bands:
    • 400.15-401 MHz: GOES and POES data collection platform downlinks;
    • 401-403 MHz: GOES and POES data collection platform uplinks;
    • 1675-1700 MHz: GOES GVAR direct satellite broadcast;
    • 1675-1710 MHz: NOAA POES, EUMETSAT METOP and China FY-1D, HRPT direct satellite broadcast;
    • 7750-7850 MHz: NPP satellite;
    • 8025-8175 MHz: NASA Terra satellite downlink;
    • 8175-8215 MHz: NASA Aqua satellite downlink.
  • The Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) of NRCan operates satellite stations in the following bands (data also used by EC):
    • 1675-1710 MHz;
    • 2025-2110 MHz;
    • 2200-2290 MHz;
    • 8025-8215 MHz;
    • 8215-8400 MHz.
  • L-band direct readout broadcast is still in the planning stages for the next generation meteorological satellites to be launched in the 2020-2025 timeframe. The future generations of satellites will make more use of the X-band and K-band (e.g. 18-18.3 GHz in Region 2) for data broadcasting.

Note: Some of the comments of the Stakeholders summarized in this Space Science section may overlap with those presented in the Radiodetermination section or vice-versa.

6.13.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Assessing Future Spectrum Demand for Space Science

The aforementioned information in sections 6.13.2 and 6.13.3 will assist in identifying spectrum demand for particular space science service. The information used includes:

  • The Inventory Report on frequency allocations to space science;
  • Band-by-band spectrum usage, users and particular spectrum activities;
  • Stakeholder input on space science spectrum use and requirements; and
  • Areas of growth or potential spectrum demand.

The users' views are important in assessing spectrum demand for space science.

Services Demand: Market Analysis

In general, space science encompasses the broad categories of space activities: such as earth exploration-satellite; space research; meteorological-satellite; meteorological aids; space operation; and radio astronomy. In the 50 MHz to 38 GHz range, several different bands have frequency allocation provisions to support some form of space science services.

A large number of space science projects and research activities are continually taking place in many of the frequency bands. Among the continuous use of the space science spectrum are the following projects and service applications:

  • Space research and earth exploration satellites: space research payloads are moving from large satellites to very small and mission-focused micro-satellites with one or two scientific instruments. These satellites are operated by data links (uplinks/downlinks) for information transmission, telemetry and control (TT&C) of these satellites. The increased number of these small satellites, launched for a limited operating life, represents an increased demand for TT&C frequencies for use by these satellites in the 2 GHz range.
  • Earth exploration satellites: earth exploration satellites are becoming more popular worldwide to provide up-to-date information on the earth geography and environment, critical imaging information during emergencies and disasters and security information (maritime surveillance and border control). For example, a use of RADARSAT I (band 5255-5350 MHz) and RADARSAT II (band 5350-5460 MHz) is to map snow, ice and sea ice, soil moisture and other important information.
  • Radio astronomy: uses a number of radio bands, i.e. the Penticton Astronomy Observatory, which uses various frequency ranges to monitor and study space. These observatory stations use a range of well-defined astronomy bands. A quiet-radio zone must be maintained around these observatory stations, and noise from other radio operations has to be avoided.

For the most part, space science activities and projects are done in collaboration with other domestic agencies or with space agencies of other countries and use spectrum allocated on an international basis. Therefore, although there are a very large number of projects and a high level of space science activities, the ITU Table has made provisions in several frequency bands to support such services. Some of these operations are worldwide, and others are more regional.

For satellite operations, such as earth exploration and space research, the service demand can be estimated as follows:

  • For the next generation of RADARSAT, there is a need for greater capability to generate higher definition imagery; hence, a larger spectrum bandwidth would be needed at 5 GHz and higher speed data links 8 GHz.
  • There is an increasing number of small LEO satellites (cubesats) being planned for scientific missions with payloads to study the atmosphere. Space operation frequencies in the bands 2025-2110 MHz and 2200-2290 MHzFootnote 50 will be in greater demand as TT&C and data links.

Spectrum Demand

The areas of pressure include:

Pressure Points:

  • Space operation spectrum is needed in the 2100/2200 MHz bands to provide data links and TT&C links for small research satellites and for RADARSAT operation
  • Continued spectrum at 5 and 8 GHz must be protected for existing and future RADARSAT satellites.
  • The opening of the Northwest Passage, due to the melting of the Arctic ice, and the Canadian Government activities in the North, will increase the demand for space science satellite missions (communication, weather report and traffic surveillance) in these remote areas.
  • The decline in activities at the international space station may free some spectrum for new space science activities.

6.13.5 Conclusion

The identification of new spectrum for Space Science Services tends to be a collaboration among the member countries of the ITU forum. New space science spectrum needs will be identified and considered at future WRC conferences.

Our research has identified areas where spectrum demand may occur for Space Science in the 2010 to 2015 period. These areas include the 2 GHz band: For space operation in the 2 GHz bands to support small research satellites and RADARSAT.

For future Earth Exploration Satellite Service projects (RADARSAT equivalent), there is a potential need for additional spectrum in the 5 and 8 GHz bands.

6.14 Consumer Devices

6.14.1 Overview

Consumers and businesses enjoy the convenience and benefit of a wide range of licence-exempt radio devices (referred to as "consumer devices"). In recent years, a number of bands have been opened to consumer devices. New technology protocols offer greater intelligence and frequency agility to avoid frequency collision with other devices and reduce interference. These devices operate at low power on a non-interference and non-protected basis, in relation to primary radio services in these bands and in adjacent spectrum. In addition, Industry Canada continues to assign spectrum for unprotected low-power radio devices as an under-layer to primary service operations. This is the case for a wide range of applications, such as medical applications, model aircraft, sensors, municipality traffic lights, RFID and vehicle identifications at very low power across the VHF and UHF frequency range, based on Radio System Standards (RSS) 210 (similar to FCC, Part 15).

This Study addresses only the popular frequency bands listed in Section 6.14.2, below, and assigned, in part, for consumer communications devices. Often, the low-power consumer devices must coexist with higher-power primary services retaining operation priority.

6.14.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

The Inventory Report presents the number of models of consumer devices certified for distribution in Canada, according to technical requirements and applications outlined in RSS-210 for licence-exempt devices. Although, this provides general information on the certification activities in Canadian and other recognized laboratories worldwide; it does not provide direct information on the number of consumer devices distributed and sold for use in Canada. However, the Inventory Report (Section 12.4) presents interesting information on the certification of consumer devices in popular Wi-Fi-licence-exempt bands for potential distribution and sale in Canada. The report shows the increase in the number of licence-exempt device models certified in the past 10 years and the expectation of continued growth. The report estimates that 60,000 models of consumer devices have been available in the past six years, with approximately 60% of these devices operating in bands that can accommodate Wi-Fi devices.

The Inventory Report provides a number of trend charts on the number of licence-exempt devices certified with potential distribution to the Canadian market. Among the information are the licence-exempt charts in Figures 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3 in section 12.4 for the bands 900 MHz, 2400 MHz and 5800 MHz, respectively.

Also, the report indicates that, based on the 2006 census data, a typical occupied dwelling in Canada could have up to 20 consumer devices. With about 12.4 million dwellings, that indicates more than 250 million consumer devices. However, among these devices are remote controls for TV, stereo, digital box, analogue phones, FRS/GMRS, wireless play-stations, garage openers, remote switches, light sensors and others. Many of these devices use various underlay spectrum (assigned to primary services), as specified by RSS-210 for low-power ISM and consumer devices.

An area of considerable interest in this Study is the actual use of the main designated licence-exempt bands listed below for consumer devices, such as digital cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers and Wi-Fi chip-sets embedded in PCs and laptops, smartphones, Internet TVs, electronic products and others. Also, public Wi-Fi access facilities use mesh-network in urban areas, private Wi-Fi providing public Internet access, cellular network complementary hot spots and other applications. There is an ever-increasing use of licence-exempt spectrum for wireless product applications for the benefit and convenience of consumers and commercial users.

Some products in certain bands have been more popular than others, and these bands are extensively used. These products are equipped with a range of intelligent technologies, frequency agility and collision-avoidance schemes to minimize interference. The operation standards of these licence-exempt products are specified in Industry Canada RSS-210 (for low-power wireless devices) or RSS-213 for unlicenced PCS.

Spectrum Utilization

Among the popular licence-exempt, low-power, consumer and commercial products and bands are the following:

  • 44/49 MHz: range for cordless telephones;
  • 462/467 MHz: range for family radio services (FRS) and general mobile radio services (GMRS);
  • 151/154 MHz: five channels will be available for Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)Footnote 51 radio communications after five years from May 2009;
  • Bands 902-928 MHz, 2400-2483.5 MHz and 5725-5850 MHz: for digital phones, radio local area networks (RLAN), Wi-Fi routers, hot spots, etc.;
  • Band 1920-1930 MHz: for cordless phones using DECT technology;
  • Band 5150-5250 MHz and bands 5250-5350 MHz, 5470-5600 MHz, 5650-5725 MHz, and the 5725-5850 MHz: for local area networks (RLAN).

The 900 MHz and 2400 MHz bands (also support a number of ISM licence-exempt radio devices, such as sensors, microwave ovens, wireless speakers, remote controls and licenced fixed microwave systems) were among the first bands assigned to licence-exempt products. The 900 MHz and 2400 MHz bands are densely used in populated areas in comparison to the newer bands 5150-5350 MHz and 5725-5850 MHz, which were just opened in the 1990s.

The bands 5470-5600 MHz and 5650-5725 MHz were released in 2005 for licence-exempt RLAN and other devices. The spectrum policy requires that consumer devices in these new bands be equipped with intelligent technology (dynamic frequency, frequency avoidance, etc.) and meet a number of technical and operation provisions to coexist or protect a number of primary services, including radiodetermination. Also, at the same time, the band 5250-5350 MHz was upgraded to support outdoor consumer device applications. In 2005, Industry Canada provided greater flexibility for consumer products by including "mobile service" as co-primary to fixed service in the bands 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz, 5470-5600 MHz and 5650-5725 MHz, as provided in the Canadian Table of Frequency AllocationsFootnote 52.

6.14.3 Stakeholders Input and Research Analysis

A limited number of comments were received from stakeholders and research on consumer devices (in particular, regarding the up-take of Wi-Fi capability in electronic products). A summary of this input follows below:

  • The popularity of Wi-Fi devices and chip-sets used to access the Internet in homes, business locations and hot spots in the 2400 MHz band is due to lower manufacturing costs than in other bands. As a result, this band tends to be more crowded.
  • Although licence-exempt spectrum is more crowded with consumer devices in populated areas, there is intense spectrum reuse of the same channels at short distances. Congestion may not be related to population density, but more site-specific situations, such as large meetings. Also, congestion of Wi-Fi bands can be more related to application, i.e. downloading video and latency limitations. Finally, some thought needs to be given to network/access-point capacity requirements where, in some cases, this may be where the bottleneck exists.
  • Consumer devices will become more pervasive with Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, sensing and using them as an integral part of the telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. "the last few feet". As air-interface throughput rate continues to increase, this will require greater bandwidth from the access point to the telecom network.
  • There are a growing number of households, businesses and hot spots that are using wireless access points to deliver Internet access and other services to multiple end-user devices. In addition to laptops, netbooks and tablet computers having Wi-Fi capabilities, there are also a growing number of peripheral devices, such as cameras, printers, general household appliances and mobile phones that are enabled for Wi-Fi. The growing number of wireless access points and broadening number of Wi-Fi-enabled consumer devices will put a strain on the spectrum in these bands. Some service providers are providing customers with DSL modems and TV set-top boxes with built-in Wi-Fi functionality and, as part of an improved customer experience, are actively turning on the Wi-Fi and setting up the customers' wireless home networks.
  • A growing popularity of smartphones with Wi-Fi capability (there are prospects of Wi-Fi capability on 90% of new smartphones sales) will grow to much more than 50% of the customer base. In addition, the 2.4 GHz band can be used to support Bluetooth connections between headset connections and mobile phones, as well as to peer-to-peer data transfers. Also, wireless LAN will drive some demand in these bands.


Canadians are avid consumers of wireless electronic devices, which they use extensively at work, at home and on the move. The Inventory Report identifies a typical Canadian household having up to 20 consumer devices, according to a 2006 census report. While many of these devices (using infrared or ISM spectrum for remote control of electronic products, lights, remote garage and car door openers and others) would be outside the prime licence-exempt bands, this does show Canadians' diverse interests in a number of consumer devices. However, increasingly, more home devices use the designated spectrum of interest for a wide range of applications, such as digital phones and Wi-Fi-networking applications.

  • Attraction of licence-exempt spectrum means that new technology and applications will continue to be developed. There are numerous predictions of large growth of applications for the use of licence-exempt frequencies.
  • Improvements in the capabilities of smartphones and other portable devices, as well as speed enhancements of mobile networks (3G and 4G) are changing the way consumers access the Internet. Internet and data usage is changing with consumers using more and more bandwidth intensive services, such as video with exceeding growth in mobile data traffic. Some mobile operators are off-loading cellular traffic to lower-cost alternatives, such as licence-exempt Wi-Fi access points. In fact, there are now applications available for download, which require smartphones to use Wi-Fi mode.
  • The most recently released bands 5470-5600 MHz and 5650-5725 MHz have a lower use of consumer devices than the other bands. However, there is an increasing number of new products being developed under more complex operating protocols.

6.14.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Estimating the Demand

The foregoing information in sections 6.14.2 and 6.14.3 should assist in projecting demand for consumer devices in a number of assigned bands. These licence-exempt consumer products have to operate and coexist in an environment where many devices use a pool of frequencies to avoid interference. The information used includes:

  • The frequency bands assigned to licence-exempt consumer devices;
  • The most popular bands for particular device applications;
  • Trends in number of device models certified for use in Canada;
  • The phenomena of Wi-Fi applications in electronic products and most popular bands; and
  • Limited input from stakeholders; and
  • Research on consumer devices.

These sources of information are important to project the demand for consumer devices in popular bands and others.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Consumer device demand has been consistently growing over the last decade, and this trend is expected to only grow. The most popular devices include digital cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers and Wi-Fi-enabled PCs and laptops, smartphones, Internet TV, electronic products and others. Of interest is the installation of public Wi-Fi access facilities using mesh-network in urban areas and Wi-Fi providing public Internet access, cellular network off-load to Wi-Fi hot spots, etc. There has been an exponential growth of wireless product applications for the benefit and convenience of consumers and commercial users.

Until now, the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands have supported the fast adoption of Wi-Fi capability in several hundred millions of consumer devices in Canada.

The demand for wireless communications consumer devices with Wi-Fi Internet access in homes, business and public locations; for radio local area network (RLAN) and metropolitan area networks (MAN) is driven by the Internet phenomena, broadband services and a digital world, based on the full digitization of information, broadcasting and telecommunications. Also, the shift to a mobile-centric society with broadband mobile networks and broadband smartphones (richer in features and service applications) with full access to broadband Internet is an equally strong driver to consumer device demand.

The demand for wireless communication devices, based on Wi-Fi in the licence-exempt spectrum is analyzed as follows:

  • Homes:
    • Consumers will continue to demand Wi-Fi networking with higher speeds and of better quality, and homes will eventually move to 802.11g and 802.11n products. It could be envisaged, that, at least, 40% of the more than 7.0 million Canadian households subscribing to broadband would have Wi-Fi routers to network computers and other ancillary Wi-Fi devices, including smartphones and tablets.
    • Wi-Fi data traffic in a home setting will increase by several folds and make greater use of the newly released 5 GHz bands in the next five years.
  • Business:
    • Businesses make an extensive use of broadband Internet services. A greater use of wireless local network (RLAN/high-capacity routers) is anticipated with an increase in data traffic by several folds. Businesses are often in large office complexes with many Wi-Fi routers in close vicinity. The use of advanced technology, such as the 802.11n using dual bands and better encryption, will ensure continued reliable Internet access.
    • Also, the penetration of smartphones and tablets, and laptop computers will put greater demand on office wireless networks.
    • In the next five years, the business traffic on office broadband Wi-Fi access will increase several-fold. There will be greater use of the 5 GHz bands.
  • Public Networks:
    • There is very large number of Wi-Fi hot spots being established to access broadband Internet worldwide. In addition to being used by laptop and notebook devices, they are increasingly being used by mobile devices (smartphones, tablets). A Morgan StanleyFootnote 53 report estimates a total of 35 million hot spots worldwide, which can provide broadband Internet Wi-Fi access to advanced mobile phones.
    • In 2010, 42% of iPhone usage was through Wi-Fi access points: Wi-Fi access speed is 10 times the speed of 3G and 70% cheaper than 3G;
    • There are 862 million mobile devices equipped with Wi-Fi (less than 20% of the world cellular subscription base). For North America, the Wi-FI smartphone base would be higher than 20%.
    • Adoption of dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) in handsetsFootnote 54 is estimated to increase from approximately 25% of all handsets in 2011 to approximately 50% of all handsets in 2012, with increasing emphasis on the 5 GHz band for 3G/4G smartphones. The anticipated growth in tablet devices is also forecast to support 5 GHz, as mobile Wi-Fi chipsets for tablets increasingly adopt dual-band functionality.
  • Complementary Use to Public Wireless Networks:
    • Wireless cellular operators have established a large number of Wi-Fi hot spots to complement their networks. Wi-Fi access will improve customer experience with data service.
    • Also, wireless operators are off-loading data traffic from their cellular network on certain hot spots so as to ensure sufficient network capacity is available to all users.
    • A number of carriersFootnote 55 have embraced Wi-Fi as part of their cellular operation plan.

The bands 902-928, 2400-2483.5 and 5725-5850 MHz have been extensively used to date for the majority of the consumer devices. In particular, the 902 and 2400 MHz bands are heavily used. These bands support an exceedingly large number of RLAN devices providing high-speed connections and accommodating broadband Internet users with large amounts of data consumption each month (10-50 GB).

As outlined above, new devices are increasingly using dual bands, which include the deployment of advanced 802.11n technology in the less-occupied bands of 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5600 MHz.

Spectrum Demand

The very local operation of Wi-Fi devices (very small coverage area) and the adaptability of a large number of devices transmitting to coexist in the same spectrum should ensure sufficient spectrum over the next five years. Advancement in smart-antenna technology and communications protocols will ensure quality and integrity of service for Wi-Fi devices.

Pressure Points:

  • The 900 and 2400 MHz bands have the greatest number of consumer devices. The 2400 and 5800 MHz bands are exceedingly used for Wi-Fi systems, embedded chips in computers, smartphones and other consumer and medical devices.
  • Congestion of Wi-Fi usage will occur in hot spots established to support large conferences, where attendees can access Internet by Wi-Fi with laptop computers, smartphones, tablets and other computing devices.

Smart technology needs evolve to other 5GHz bands (5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5600 MHz) to accommodate the high growth of consumer and electronic devices. It is estimated that less than 20% of the spectrum in the defined licence-exempt bands for consumer devices is heavily occupied.

The bands 902-928, 2400-2483.5 and 5725-5850 MHz have been extensively used to date for the majority of the consumer devices. These bands support an exceedingly larger number of RLAN devices providing high-speed connections and accommodating broadband Internet users with large amounts of data consumption per month (10-50 GB). RLAN devices are evolving in the use Software Defined Radio (SDR), dynamic frequency assignments, multi-bands and smart technology to co-exist with other primary services.

New RLAN technology will benefit from the less-occupied bands of 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5600 MHz. The total amount of well-defined bands below 6 GHz for licence-exempt consumer devices is approximately 560 MHz (less than 20% of the spectrum is heavily occupied). Most of these bands assigned to low-power consumer devices are used by primary radio services.

The successful introduction of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) communication devices has the potential of accommodating many of the existing Wi-Fi-networking capabilities and to bring some spectrum relief to some of the licence-exempt bands.

6.14.5 Conclusion

The Study does not show additional demand of spectrum for consumer devices to occur in the 2010 to 2015 period. However, some of the bands (960 and 2400 MHz) are heavily populated with consumer devices and can experience localized congestion in the presence of several devices operating in the area (i.e. conference centre, airport, etc.)

New technologies are increasingly using higher licence-exempt bands in the 5 GHz range. It is estimated that less than 20% of the spectrum in the new 5 GHz band (bands 5150-5250 MHz, 5250-5350 MHz and 5470-5600 MHz) is heavily occupied.

6.15 Medical Devices

6.15.1 Overview

With advances in wireless networks, new and innovative medical applications are being developed. Efficiency among hospital staff is greatly increased by utilizing these newly introduced applications and tools. Long-term patient care, remote diagnostics and support for elderly people are some of the most important issues being discussed in light of wireless networks.

Hospitals and health centres make extensive use of wireless medical communications operating as low-power and licence-exempt status. These devices operate in-building, local area setting of health centres. The devices can coexist with other primary services with relatively little harmful interference. Also, patient in-home care is a new area in the use of wireless networks and medical applications. Remote monitoring of patients and the elderly in their homes will significantly reduce costs of caregivers and also provides a non-intrusive lifestyle for its users. The non-exclusive frequency bands assigned for low-power and licence-exempt devices, which include wireless medical devices on a non-protected basis are described in Industry Canada RSS-210 or RSS-243 and listed in Section 6.15.2, below.

6.15.2 Spectrum Inventory and Utilization

Industry Canada's Inventory Report provides the number of medical telemetry device models certified for distribution in Canada according to technical requirements and applications as outlined in RSS-210 for licence-exempt devices. Although this provides general information on the certification activities of medical telemetry devices from Canadian and recognized laboratories worldwide, it does not provide tangible information on how many medical telemetry devices are shipped to Canada for use in the different bands. However, the Inventory Report (Section 12.4) presents interesting charts on the certification of consumer medical telemetry devices in Figure 12.6 for the 174-216 MHz and Figure 12.7 for the 608-614 MHz bands. New sub-bands have been opened in the 1400 MHz range for licence-exempt medical telemetry devices.

A spectrum inventory has been put together from official documents of Industry Canada on the primary frequency bands assigned to the most conventional medical devices. The non-exclusive frequency bands assigned for low-power and licence-exempt devices, which include wireless medical devices on a non-protected basis, are described in Industry Canada RSS-210 and are listed below:

  • Bands 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz and 75.2-76 MHz: Auditory Assistance;
  • Band 174-216 MHz: Medical Telemetry usage only;
  • Band 216-217: Auditory Assistance and Medical Telemetry in health-care facilities only;
  • Band 608-614 MHz: in part for Medical Telemetry;
  • Band 401-406 MHz: for Medical Implant Communication Service (MICS) for MITS and MEDS using different parts of the band; see RSS-243;
  • Band 1395-1400 MHz and 1427-1429.5 MHz: Medical Telemetry in health-care centres, not available near radar stations in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Most of these bands are assigned to low-power medical devices and are used by primary radio services.

Parts of the TV broadcasting spectrum (bands 174-216 MHz and 584-608 MHz) have been used in the past to accommodate low-power Wireless Medical Telemetry Systems (WMTS). Where local DTV stations are being implemented, it is no longer recommended to use the same spectrum for these low-power medical telemetry devices in hospital centres, due to potential interference. Medical administrations have been encouraged to retune their WMTS to other bands.

Canada has a sizable medical device market as summarizedFootnote 56 in Table 6.15.1, below.

Table 6.15.1 — Canadian medical device market
Market size in 2008 Valued at $6.4 billion
Increase from 2000 to 2008 2% at CAGR (compound annual growth rate)
Exports growth from 2000 to 2009 5.5% ($1.6 billion in 2000 to $2.6 billion in 2009) at CAGR
Imports growth from 2000 to 2009 4.6% (from $1.8 billion in 2000 to $2.5 billion in 2009) at CAGR

Source: Industry Canada's Web site

However, it should be noted that there are very few radio-based medical products manufactured in Canada. Most of these radio-based medical devices are imported from the U.S. and other countries. Hence, the U.S. industry leads in development of new medical devices and the identification of spectrum requirements. As a rule, Industry Canada has closely followed the FCC activities in identifying and releasing appropriate spectrum to support new medical device applications to benefit Canadians.

Current RF wireless technologies working with medical telemetry devices include:Footnote 57

  • Licence-exempt devices under IC RSS-210 regulations;
  • Cellular (mobile) telephones;
  • Wireless handheld computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs);
  • Wireless local area networks (WLAN 802.11.a/b/g);
  • Wireless modems for laptop computers;
  • Personal area networks, including 802.15.1 (Bluetooth), 802.153a (ultra-wideband) (UWB) and 802.15.4 (Zigbee);
  • RF identification (RFID).

6.15.3 Stakeholder Input and Research Analysis

There were no comments received on the general medical service growth or spectrum demand. As a result, this section is based on secondary research.

Medical applications that are expected to see the greatest growth in the coming years areFootnote 58:

  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM) for the following conditions: Asthma, Diabetes, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Congestive heart failure (CHF), Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) (devices: defibrillators, infusion pumps, blood pressure monitors, weight scales, etc.). Forrester Research estimates that the sale of U.S. chronic disease devices would have grown to $3.8 billion US in 2010 and then to $26 billion US by 2015Footnote 59.
  • A Study by NeracFootnote 60 estimates that, according to present trends, by 2020, at least 160 million Americans will be monitored and treated remotely for chronic conditions.
  • Hospital bed monitoring: facilitating wireless patient monitoring, allowing greater utilization of hospital facilities (devices: smartphones, tablet PCs, PDAs, sensors).
  • Laboratory automation: in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) testing can be done on an outpatient basis and in real time, decreasing the need to make repeated trips to a clinic for retesting. The total (Global) IVD market was $42 billion in 2007, and it is projected to grow at about 6.2% annually. By 2025, an additional $10 billion to $12 billion will be added to this market.
  • Mobile medicine practices: provide means for treating chronic conditions on an outpatient basis, leading to fewer doctor visits and lower health-care costs.

Section 6.15.2, above, summarizes the spectrum designated for medical telemetry devices. In order to ensure the availability of medical products and innovative applications, it is important that Canada align its frequency assignments and type of applications with the larger U.S. market. Also, as many Canadians, using medical device implants travel to and vacation in the U.S., there are significant advantages in harmonizing both spectrum and standards. Canada does not necessarily harmonize with certain frequency bands available in Europe.

The significant increase in new medical device applications, which is accelerated with the integration of local and remote wireless communications (mobile, WLAN, RFID, Zigbee, and others), will drive the use of medical devices in the next five years, as outlined in Section 6.15.3, above.

As medical devices operate at very low power, using groups of frequencies, and, in some cases, using advanced-frequency collision-avoidance schemes, a large number of medical devices can coexist in the same local settings. High usage of devices is prevalent in hospital for wireless medical telemetry applications. Many of these medical devices are not communicating or may communicate or exchange data only when prompted to do so. In the past five years, Industry Canada has opened bands 1395-1400 MHz and 1427-1429.5 MHz for medical telemetry, as described in SP 1.7 GHzFootnote 61. This spectrum is aligned with the U.S. and should accommodate a significant number of new medical devices and applications.

6.15.4 Services and Spectrum Demand

Approach in Assessing Continued Demand for Spectrum for Medical Devices

The foregoing information, contained in sections 6.15.2 and 6.15.3, above, should assist in projecting demand for medical devices. These licence-exempt medical products have to operate and coexist in an environment where many devices have a pool of frequencies. Medical telemetry devices operate in health-centre locations where greater care can be used to coordinate frequency use and avoid potential interference. The information used includes:

  • The frequency bands assigned to licence-exempt medical devices (Inventory Report and RSS-210;
  • The most popular bands for particular medical device applications;
  • The trends in number of device models (bands 174-216 MHz and 608-614 MHz) certified for potential use in Canada;
  • Research on the application of wireless devices for health care at home or other settings (particular for an aging society).

These sources of information are important to project the demand for medical devices and continued need for existing and newly assigned spectrum.

Service Demand: Market Analysis

Canada has a very advanced health-care service and the use of medical devices is an important element. There is a wide range of certified medical devices available for distribution and sale to Canadian health centres and individuals. The non-exclusive frequency bands (RSS-210) assigned for low-power and licence-exempt wireless medical devices are listed in 6.15.2.

In general, Canada harmonizes its medical device bands with the U.S. rather than other regions, such as Europe, since most of the medical devices imported and distributed in Canada are from U.S. manufacturers or distributors.

From literature research, the growth of medical devices applications is forecast to be significant in the next five years and beyond, as outlined in Section 6.15.3. This will be accelerated with the integration of local and remote wireless communications (mobile, RLAN, RFID, Zigbee and others), which will drive the use of medical devices in the next five years.

Spectrum Demand

The spectrum available for use by medical devices is meeting the needs of the various applications. With the assignment of new frequency bands, of late, for various medical device applications, additional demand of spectrum has not been identified.

It should be noted that the Canadian spectrum for medical devices is harmonized with the United States, from where the majority of products are imported. This trend is expected to continue.

With proper deployment of medical devices in hospitals using appropriate frequency agile technology, there should not be serious congestion. Hospital administrators are becoming better educated in the potential of interference in operation of low-power (licence-exempt) medical devices, often in the same spectrum as primary radio services in the area. Medical telemetry will need to shift to new spectrum in the 1400 MHz band (if digital TV operates in the same broadcasting frequency in that area).

6.15.5 Conclusion

A wide range and increased use of medical devices is foreseen over this time period to 2015 and beyond, to improve delivery of health care and to better monitor an aging population. It is anticipated that a growing number of existing types of medical devices will be enhanced with wireless communication capability to support remote and tele-medicine applications.

Demand of additional spectrum for medical devices is not expected to occur in the 2010 to 2015 period, as a result of the short-range, low-power communications of many devices.

It should be noted that, the new medical telemetry band at 1400 MHz should replace the use of TV broadcasting spectrum, which is subject to more interference from over-the-air digital TV broadcasting.

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