Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 7–Satellite Services

7.1 Background

7.1.1 Definition of Services

Satellite communications networks are radiocommunications networks where a communications link is facilitated between two earth stations by use of a satellite, which serves as an in-space signal repeater for the transmitting earth station.

A satellite communications link can be made in one of two directions: earth-to-space, known as the uplink; and space-to-earth, known as the downlink. There are also two link types, that characterize the flow of information across the satellite: the forward and reverse link. The forward link is the communications link that characterizes the flow of information from the service provider to the user, and the reverse link is the link that characterizes the flow of information from the user to the service provider. Figure 7.1 below gives a graphical depiction of this relationship.

Figure 7.1–Generic Satellite Communications Service
Figure 7.1–Generic Satellite Communications Service [Description of Figure 7.1 ]

There are several defined types of satellite service. These satellite services are typically given names based on the type of earth station utilized in delivering the service. These include broadly defined services such as broadcasting-satellite services (BSS), fixed-satellite services (FSS) and mobile-satellite services (MSS), as well as more precisely-defined services such as amateur-satellite service, aeronautical mobile-satellite services (AMSS), aeronautical radionavigation-satellite services, land-mobile-satellite services, maritime mobile-satellite services (MMSS), radiodetermination satellite services (RDSS), radiolocation-satellite services, radionavigation satellite services (RNSS), maritime radionavigation-satellite services, standard frequency and time signal-satellite service.

7.1.2 Broad Description of Types of Services and Applications

The following gives the ITU definition of each satellite service, followed by the different applications that are typically deployed using each service, where applicable. Broadly-defined Satellite Services
Broadcasting-satellite services (BSS):
A radiocommunication service in which signals transmitted or retransmitted by space stations are intended for direct reception by the general public.
Examples of BSS applications are satellite direct-to-home (DTH) for services such as satellite televisions, as well as satellite radio.
Fixed-satellite services (FSS):
A radiocommunication service between earth stations at given positions, when one or more satellites are used; the given position may be a specified point or any fixed point within specified areas; in some cases, this service includes satellite-to-satellite links, which may also be operated in the inter-satellite service; the fixed-satellite service may also include feeder links for other space radiocommunication services.
There are several FSS applications, including broadband Internet over satellite, information gathering, videoconferencing, distance learning and backhaul. Additionally, FSS are used as feeder links for other types of satellite services (e.g. transmission of broadcast television to the satellite and feeder links for MSS).
Mobile-satellite services (MSS):
A radiocommunication service between mobile earth stations and one or more space stations, or between space stations used by this service; or between mobile earth stations by means of one or more space stations. This service may also include feeder links necessary for its operation.
Typical applications for MSS are satellite phones capable of voice and data. Another example of an MSS application is the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), operated by Inmarsat. BGAN uses small mobile terminals the size of a laptop to provide broadband Internet access via satellite. AMSS, land mobile-satellite services and MMSS are also examples of services that have MSS applications. Precisely-defined Satellite Services
Amateur-satellite services:
A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. This service is specifically carried out using space stations on earth satellites.
Aeronautical mobile-satellite services (AMSS):
A mobile-satellite service in which mobile earth stations are located on board aircraft; survival craft stations and emergency position-indicating radiobeacon stations may also participate in this service.
Aeronautical radionavigation-satellite service:
A radionavigation-satellite service in which earth stations are located on board aircraft.
Land mobile-satellite service:
A mobile-satellite service in which mobile earth stations are located on land.
Maritime mobile-satellite service (MMSS):
A mobile-satellite service in which mobile earth stations are located on board ships; survival craft stations and emergency position-indicating radiobeacon stations may also participate in this service.
Maritime radionavigation-satellite service:
A radionavigation-satellite service in which earth stations are located on board ships.
Radiodetermination-satellite services (RDSS):
The determination of position, velocity and/or other characteristics of an object, or the obtaining of information relating to these parameters by means of the propagation properties of radio waves through the use of one of more space stations.
Radiolocation-satellite services:
A radiodetermination-satellite service used for the purpose of radiolocation, where radiolocation is a radiodetermination service used for the purpose of radionavigation.
One example of a radiolocation-satellite service is satellite RADAR.
Radionavigation-satellite services (RNSS):
A radiodetermination-satellite service used for the purpose of radionavigation.
One example of a RNSS is GPS.
Standard frequency and time signal-satellite service:
A radiocommunication service using space stations on earth satellites for the same purposes as those of the standard frequency and time signal service.

7.1.3 Licensing Satellite Services

The procedure for licensing satellite services in Canada depends on the type of licence to be issued. There are two types of licences that can be obtained: a spectrum licence and a radio licence. The former allows the deployment of several ground stations in order to use the portion of spectrum (authorized in the licence) in specific areas. The latter licenses the apparatus used for communications at particular locations. Since 1995, Industry Canada has transitioned from licensing satellite services using solely radio licensing, to issuing spectrum licences, where applicable. In general, radio licences are typically issued for the satellite and earth stations in the fixed-satellite service. Spectrum licences are issued for the flexible deployment of a satellite network, implemented by issuing an individual licence for all radio equipment. This type of deployment is more typical for MSS service providers, where a large number of user terminals are deployed.

The issuance process for licences for the operation of satellite differs depending on whether the satellite will operate in a geostationary orbit (GSO). Non-GSO satellites are licensed using a first-come, first-served (FCFS) policy, no matter the type of service (e.g. FSS, BSS or MSS). However, the process differs for GSO satellites depending upon the type of service being licensed. In the past, an FCFS policy was used to license satellites for FSS. More recently, FSS have been licensed through a comparative process, as exampled by the 2006 Call for Applications to License Satellite Orbital Positions.Footnote 13 BSS licensing is currently done through comparative process, also exampled by the 2006 Call. There are currently no Canadian MSS satellite operators, but there are several service providers licensed with spectrum licences to deliver services from satellites licensed by other administrations. It should be noted that no licence is require for a BSS VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), as they are classified as licence-exempt.

The studies conducted in Section 7.3 using information derived from Industry Canada's licensing database are limited for certain classes of satellite service. This is because the database does not keep track of spectrum licences or the number of licence-exempt terminals deployed. This means that any study done using solely the database, will fail to fully capture the true utilization in bands deploying BSS. However, as is discussed in Section 7.3, the database information is also augmented using public information regarding the number of spectrum and radio licences issued in a band.

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7.2 Current Allocations and Utilizations

7.2.1 List of Allocated Bands

There are several bands allocated to and utilized for the implementation of satellite services. Table 7.1 lists all bands with licensed satellite services and the respective services implemented in each particular band. Note that Table 7.1 also specifies the direction of the link (↑ for uplink and ↓ for downlink) which can be used in the band of interest.

Table 7.1: Allocated spectrum currently used for satellite services
Band (MHz) Services Implemented Direction Band Size (MHz)
137-138 MSS 1
148-149.9 MSS 1.9
161.9625-161.9875 MMSS ↑↓ 0.025
162.0125-162.0375 MMSS ↑↓ 0.025
225-332 GOVFootnote 14 ↑↓ 107
399.9-400.05 MSS 0.15
400.15-401 MSS 0.85
406-406.1 GOV ↑↓ 0.1
432-438 Telemetry/Telecommand ↑↓ 6
460-470 Experimental ↑↓ 10
Band (GHz) Services Implemented Direction Band Size (MHz)
1.525-1.530 MSS 5
1.530-1.535 MSS 5
1.535-1.559 MSS 24
1.6265-1.6605 MSS 34
2.000-2.020 MSS 20
2.180-2.200 MSS 20
2.310-2.360 BSS 50
2.700-2.900 GOV ↑↓ 200
3.500-3.650 FSS 150
3.650-3.700 FSS 50
3.700-4.200 FSS 500
4.400-4.490 GOV ↑↓ 90
4.835-4.950 GOV ↑↓ 115
5.091-5.150 FSSFootnote 15 59
5.850-5.925 FSS 75
5.925-6.700 FSSFootnote 16 775
6.700-7.075 FSS 375
7.250-7.300 GOV ↑↓ 50
7.300-7.450 GOV ↑↓ 150
7.450-7.550 GOV ↑↓ 100
7.975-8.025 GOV ↑↓ 50
8.025-8.175 GOV ↑↓ 150
8.175-8.215 GOV ↑↓ 40
10.70-11.70 FSS 1000
11.70-12.20 FSS/AMSS 500
12.20-12.70 BSS 500
12.75-13.25 FSS 500
13.75-14.00 FSS 250
14.00-14.47 FSS/AMSS 470
14.47-14.50 FSS/AMSS 30
14.50-14.66 GOV ↑↓ 160
14.820-15.135 GOV ↑↓ 315
17.30-17.70 BSS ↑↓ 400
17.70-17.80 BSS ↑↓ 100
17.80-18.10 FSS 300
18.10-18.40 FSS 300
18.40-18.60 FSS 200
18.60-18.80 FSS 200
19.30-19.70 FSS 400
19.70-20.20 FSS 500
27.50-28.50 FSS 1000
28.50-29.10 FSS 600
29.10-29.50 FSS 400
29.50-29.90 FSS 400
29.90-30.00 FSS 100
Satellite Service use from 52 MHz to 38GHz (for additional information, refer to Annex 1):
Satellite Service use from 52 GHz (for additional information, refer to Annex 1): [Description of Figure]


  1. 13 back to footnote reference 13 For more information, please refer to:
  2. 14 back to footnote reference 14 Where GOV is an abbreviation used to represent a service that is for the Government of Canada.
  3. 15 back to footnote reference 15 The band 5091-5150 MSS.
  4. 16 back to footnote reference 16 In the band 6425-7075 MHz portion of the band.
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