Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 7–Satellite Services

7.2 Current Allocations and Utilizations

7.2.2 Band Plans

The majority of licences for satellite services are administered for bands with specified pairings (uplink/downlink). These paired bands are those that have been traditionally used to deliver satellite services. Table 7.2 gives the list of band plans for satellite services.

Table 7.2: Paired Bands
Band Name Service Downlink Band (MHz) ↓ Uplink Band (MHz) ↑
Automatic Identification System (AIS) MMSS 161.9625-161.9875; 162.0125-162.0375 161.9625-161.9875; 162.0125-162.0375
Band Name Service Downlink Band (GHz) ↓ Uplink Band (GHz) ↑
L-Band MSS 1.525-1.559 1.6265-1.6605
S-Band MSS 2.00-2.02 2.18-2.20
Big LEO Band MSS 1.6138-1.6265; 2.4835-2.500 1.610-1.6138; 1.6138-1.6265
SDARS BSS 2.31-2.36 2.31-2.36
C-Band FSS 3.7-4.2 5.925-6.425
Extended Ku-Band FSS 10.95-11.20; 11.45-11.70 13.75-14.00
Ku-Band FSS 11.7-12.2 14.0-14.5
12 GHz BSS BSS 12.2-12.7 17.3-17.8
17 GHz BSS BSS 17.3-17.8 24.75-25.25
Ka-BandFootnote 17 FSS 17.8-18.8; 19.7-20.2 27.5-30.0

7.2.3 Comparison with the United States

In general, all bands allocated for satellite services in the United States align with the allocations made by Canada. That is, all paired bands in Table 7.2 are the same as they are in the United States. The main differences are in the rules, priorities and services allowed in each band.

For example, in the S-Band, the Canadian allocation is identical to the ITU allocation in that it includes fixed and mobile terrestrial services, along with MSS as primary services in the band. In the United States, this is not the case (MSS is the only service allocated to this band); however, some exemptions are included for fixed and mobile terrestrial services that operated in the band prior to U.S. rule changes that allocated the S-Band to MSS only. It should be mentioned that these exemptions expire in 2013, where any previously exempt services will have to operate as secondary services. In Canada, utilization of the S-Band is governed by a different set of rules. In 2006, rule changes were made to encourage the use of the S-Band for MSS. This was done by giving MSS priority in the S-Band 17 Note that in the case of the Ka-Band the entire uplink band is not paired with the entire downlink band. In this case, the frequencies listed in this table are simply those that qualify as Ka-Band FSS frequencies. Specific Ka-Band pairings are: (downlink/uplink) 19.7-20.2 GHz/29.5-30.0 GHz. (as defined in Table 7.2) over all other services. Additionally, some fixed terrestrial services were relocated in order to free up sub-bands for MSS, and a moratorium was put on the licensing of new fixed terrestrial service in this band. Since then, Terrestar (Canada) has been issued spectrum licences to operate in the Canadian S-Band. It has also been given special authorization to use an ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) in the S-Band.

Recently, the United States proposed changes to the rules governing the S-BandFootnote 18 in order to allow for more terrestrial use of the S-Band, in line with its objectives in the National Broadband Plan.Footnote 19 One proposed rule is to change the frequency allocation in S-Band to reflect the MSS bands (i.e. L-Band, S-Band and Big LEO Band).

There are some differences between rules surrounding Canadian and U.S. frequency allocations in the Ka-Band. For example, Canada specifies priority between fixed terrestrial services and FSS in the portions of the Ka-Band that both services share.Footnote 20 Although U.S. fixed terrestrial services are not allocated in all Ka-Band frequency bands in the same way they are in Canada, in almost every band (with the exception of 28.35-29.1 GHz and 29.25-29.5 GHz) where FSS has Canadian priority, U.S. allocations do not include an allocation for a fixed terrestrial service. Another notable difference is in the band 18.8-19.3 GHz. Rules governing FSS U.S. allocations in this portion of the Ka-Band state specifically which parts are limited to the use of non-GSO FSS or GSO FSS. The distinction is not made in the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations.

In the 17 GHz BSS band, the U.S. allocation differs from the Canadian one in that the U.S. allocation specifies that 17.3-17.7 GHz is allocated for downlink BSS, whereas in Canada, 17.3-17.8 GHz is allocated for downlink BSS. The United States has decided to retain this spectrum for FSS only in recognition of those FSS facilities that were displaced as a result of the new BSS allocation.

7.3 Spectrum Inventory and Analysis

This section analyzes data gathered on the licences registered in Canada's ALS database, as well as publicly available information on Canada's satellite operators to determine the utilization of spectrum allocated to satellite services. This analysis is done for each paired BSS band listed in Table 7.2 of Section 7.2.2.

7.3.1 Frequency Utilization by Band

The following section describes the frequency utilization in each paired band by presenting trend charts, satellite deployment tables and the major users of each paired band.

The trend charts presented in this section were obtained by analyzing licences registered in Canada's ALS database. However, as explained in Section 7.1.3, spectrum licences and licence-exempt terminals are not recorded in the ALS database, and feeder link terminals for BSS bands. Accordingly, publicly available information pertaining to spectrum and radio licences of satellites has also been included to supplement the trending information supplied in the following section.

7.3.1.1 FSS

Four FSS bands (C-Band, Ku-Band, extended Ku-Band and Ka-Band) are analyzed in this section using trending charts and information gathered on Canadian and foreign satellites currently licensed in Canada.

C-Band (3 to 7 GHz)

The C-Band was the first band allocated for commercial telecommunications via satellite. It is typically used for two-way (transmit and receive) communications between terminals. It is not as well suited for individual consumer applications as other higher frequency bands. This is because the C-Band does not allow for the use of small VSATs, nor does it allow for good frequency reuse through the use of spot beams. The C-Band can be used for many types of applications which include the delivery of broadband services and feeder links for television broadcasts. Figure 7.2 shows trending information on the number of licensed frequencies in the C-Band, as well as the trending information for its top five users. Figure 7.2 reveals that the top five users of the C-Band are Tata Communications (Canada) ULC; Telesat Canada; the Government of Canada; Northwestel Inc. and the Saskatchewan Communications Network. The licenses held by these five companies account for 65.9% of all frequency assignments (approximately 2,350) in this band. It is also worth noting that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was once a top-five major user of the C-Band, but its utilization of the band has shrunk by 39.3% since 1998 (from 178 to 108 licensed frequencies). Analysis reveals that frequency utilization in the C-Band has grown roughly 53.1% from 1998 levels.

Table 7.3 shows the number of Canadian and foreign satellites licensed to operate in Canada, as well as those satellites which are not yet deployed, but approved in principle. There are currently four Canadian and 53 foreign satellites licensed to operate in the C-Band, which makes it a heavily licensed band when compared with other paired satellite bands evaluated in this report. Currently, all Canadian licensed C-Band satellites have been implemented. Table 7.3 shows that Telesat Canada operates all licensed Canadian C-Band FSS satellites.

Table 7.3: Authorized and Approved Canadian C-Band Satellites
Satellite Operator Satellites Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Satellites 4
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 4
Total Number of Authorized Foreign Satellites 53
Telesat Canada Anik F1 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F1R Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F2 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F3 Implemented
Ku-Band (11 to 15 GHz)

The Ku-Band is the most popular portion of spectrum used to offer FSS. One reason is because the Ku-Band is not as restricted in power by the coordination required with fixed terrestrial stations sharing the C-Band. The Ku-Band's power advantage and the fact that the Ku-Band is at a higher frequency than the C-Band allows for the use of smaller VSATs. This makes the deployment of Ku-Band equipment much cheaper and much better suited for individual consumer services (e.g. consumer broadband Internet). Additionally, the Ku-Band allows for greater frequency reuse (through spot beams) than the C-Band, which increases satellite capacity. One drawback to the Ku-Band is that it is more susceptible to degradation due to rain fading than the C-Band; however, less so than Ka-Band. Another drawback of the Ku-Band is that it is heavily saturated, with limited capacity available.

Figure 7.2–Twelve-year trend showing the overall use and the use of the top five users of the C-Band frequency range
Fig 7.2 [Description of Figure 7.2]

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Figure 7.3 shows a twelve-year trending of Ku-Band utilization created from analysis of the ALS database. This figure shows that the Ku-Band is by-far the most licensed FSS band, with roughly 14.6 times more (34359) frequency assignments than in the C-Band. Since 1998, the number of frequency assignments in the Ku-Band has grown 198.7%, with a particular growth spike noticeable between 2004 and 2006. The top five users of Ku-Band are Galaxy Broadband Inc., Telesat Canada, Barrett Xplore Inc., Infosat Communications LP and Shopper's Drug Mart Inc.; accounting for 88.3% of all Ku-Band frequency assignments. This analysis shows that the major users of the Ku-Band are broadband service providers, satellite operators, and enterprise consumers.

Table 7.4 lists and summarizes all licensed Canadian Ku-Band satellites, noting which satellites have been implemented and those that have approval in principle. Table 7.4 also gives the number of authorized foreign satellites. Analysis shows that the number of Canadian and foreign Ku-Band satellites is roughly the same as the number of C-Band satellites. However, it should be noted that all of the Canadian C-Band satellites are actually multi-band satellites that also operate at Ku-Band (and sometimes Ka-Band) frequencies; and where one is an MSS satellite that uses the Ku-Band for its feeder links.

Table 7.4: Authorized and Approved Canadian Ku-Band Satellites
Satellite Operator Satellites Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Satellites 5
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 5
Total Number of Authorized Foreign Satellites 52
Telesat Canada Anik F1 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F1R Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F2 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F3 Implemented
Skyterra (Canada) Inc. MSAT-1 Implemented
Extended Ku-Band (16 to 18 GHz)

The extended Ku-Band refers to frequencies in ranges near that of the Ku-Band, which when combined with the Ku-Band increases the amount of contiguous Ku-Band frequency allocated for Ku-Band FSS in a band that is quickly becoming saturated.

Figure 7.4 shows a twelve-year trend chart illustrating overall utilization of extended Ku-Band frequencies. This chart was generated by using data on the number of frequency assignments in the extended Ku-Band. Figure 7.4 demonstrates that the number of extended Ku-Band frequency assignments has shrunk by 20.6% from their 1998 levels; however, the 2010 numbers have grown after a sharp decline in 2006. The top five major users of the extended Ku-Band are Telesat Canada, Terrestar (Canada) Inc., Tata Communications (Canada) ULC, Juch-Tech Inc. and Skyterra Canada, accounting for 79.4% of all frequency assignments in this band. Telesat Canada owns the lion's share (48.7%) of these.

Table 7.5 lists those satellites that have been implemented and authorized to provide extended Ku-Band services, as well as those satellites not yet implemented, but with an authorization in principle. Currently, there are two satellites owned by Telesat Canada that provide extended Ku-Band FSS and another satellite authorized in principle, which will also to be implemented by Telesat Canada. Additionally, Table 7.5 shows that there are 24 foreign satellites authorized to provide extended Ku-Band services.

Table 7.5: Authorized and Approved Canadian Extended Ku-Band Satellites
Satellite Operator Satellites Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Satellites 2
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 3
Total Number of Authorized Foreign Satellites 24
Telesat Canada Anik F1 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F1R Implemented
Telesat Canada XKu-1 Not Yet Implemented
Ka-Band (18 to 31 GHz)

The Ka-Band is garnering increased attention as being the facilitator of next generation FSS. Several next generation high-throughput-satellites (HTS) are targeting the Ka-Band as a means of increasing satellite capacity and to offer better individualized consumer services. The Ka-Band holds similar advantages to the Ku-Band when compared with the C-Band (better frequency reuse, smaller VSAT terminals), but is more susceptible to rain fades than both the C- and the Ku-Band. However, a major driving force for Ka-Band deployment is that it is largely underutilized, especially when compared with the Ku-Band. It also offers much more bandwidth than the Ku-Band, as there are more Ka-Band frequencies available for FSS. Additionally, new innovations, such as the use of adaptive coding and modulation technology, are driving the next generation of HTS. The first generation of Ka-Band broadband services has already been deployed; however there is still a limited amount of capacity available. Several new international Ka-Band satellites (including entries from North America) are scheduled for launch in the coming years, with these next generation satellites having capacities that range between 10 and 100 Gbps.

Figure 7.3–Twelve-year trend showing the overall utilization of Ku-Band frequency range
Fig 7.3 [Description of Figure 7.3]
Figure 7.4–Twelve-year trend showing the overall utilization of extended Ku-Band frequency range
Fig 7.4 [Description of Figure 7.4]

Figure 7.5 shows a twelve-year trend of frequencies assigned in the Ka-Band created by analyzing the ALS database. Figure 7.5 shows that use of the Ka-Band has grown 134.4% since 1998, with particular growth noticeable between 2004 and 2006. This signalled the partnership between Telesat Canada and Wildblue Communications Canada to deliver Ka-Band satellite broadband to consumers. Figure 7.5 demonstrates that there are not yet many users of this band (with 150 frequency assignments) and most of the frequency assignments belong to Telesat Canada. Three other licensed users of this band are Wildblue Communications Canada Corp., Barrett Xplore Inc. and Infosat Communications LP, of which the majority are broadband service providers. Telesat Canada also operates in the Ka-Band to provide feeder links for it broadcasting customers.

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Table 7.6 gives a list of authorized and approved Canadian satellites, as well as the number of foreign satellites authorized to operate in Canada. Analysis shows that the number of Canadian Ka-Band satellites in operation is expected to increase by 60% in the coming years given that Telesat Canada and newcomer Ciel Satellite LP plan to act upon their approval to launch new Ka-Band satellites. Currently, there are not many foreign satellites authorized to operate in the Ka-Band; however, this is expected to change as more countries begin to launch new Ka-Band satellites (e.g. Eutelsat's Ka-Sat in 2010, ViaSat's ViaSat-1 in 2011, and Hughes Network Systems' Jupiter in 2012).

Table 7.6: Authorized and Approved Canadian Ka-Band Satellites
Satellite Operator Satellite Name Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Canadian Satellites 5
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 8
Total Number of Authorized Foreign Satellites 6
Bell ExpressVu/Telesat Nimiq 2 Implemented
Bell ExpressVu/Telesat Nimiq 4 Implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 3 Not yet implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 5 Not yet implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F2 Implemented
Telesat Canada Wildblue-1 Implemented
Telesat Canada Anik F3 Implemented
Telesat Canada Ka/BSS1 Not yet implemented
Summary

The FSS market is growing by making use of higher frequency bands, which are less saturated and less restricted by the need for larger VSATs. Figures 7.6 to 7.9 give a comparison of the number frequency assignments and satellites approved in each band.

Figure 7.5–Twelve-year trend showing the overall utilization of Ka-Band frequency range
Fig 7.5 [Description of Figure 7.5]

Note that the extended Ku-Band and Ku-Band results are combined in these figures. In particular, Figure 7.6 shows that there is much more activity in the Ku-Band than any other FSS band in terms of frequency assignments. However, Figure 7.7 shows that the gap narrows in terms of the number of deployed satellites in all FSS bands. Figure 7.9 corroborates the data shown in Figure 7.7 in that it shows that there is a narrower gap between the number of authorized satellites in all FSS bands when compared with the number of frequency assignments. This difference can be interpreted as an indicator that Ku-Band frequencies are much more utilized for service provision than any other. It should be noted, however, that the amount of capacity on board a satellite for a particular band is not one-to-one. For example, 49.3% of transponders on Telesat's Anik fleet of FSS satellites are dedicated to Ku-Band frequencies, with 36.1% of transponders to C-Band and 13.6% of transponders to Ka-Band.Footnote 21 In addition, it should be noted that not all transponders on these satellites communicate using the same bandwidth.

It should be emphasized that Figure 7.8 demonstrates that additional capacity for Ka-Band will be deployed in the coming years and it is possible that there will be a transfer of service provision to this band as technology becomes more industry-proven and capacity demands continue to increase.

Figure 7.6–Portion of total number of frequency assignments in each FSS band in 2010
Figure 7.6–Portion of total number of frequency assignments in each FSS band in 2010 [Description of Figure 7.6]
Figure 7.7–Portion of total number of implemented Canadian satellites in each FSS band in 2010
Figure 7.7–Portion of total number of implemented Canadian satellites in each FSS band in 2010 [Description of Figure 7.7]
Figure 7.8–Portion of total number of implemented or authorized in principle Canadian satellites in each FSS band in 2010
Figure 7.8–Portion of total number of implemented or authorized in principle Canadian satellites in each FSS band in 2010 [Description of Figure 7.8]

Footnotes

  1. 17 back to footnote reference 17 Note that in the case of the Ka-Band the entire uplink band is not paired with the entire downlink band. In this case, the frequencies listed in this table are simply those that qualify as Ka-Band GHz.
  2. 18 back to footnote reference 18 For more information, please refer to http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2010/db0715/FCC-10-126A1.pdf.
  3. 19 back to footnote reference 19 For more information, please refer to http://www.broadband.gov/plan/.
  4. 20 back to footnote reference 20 The Ka-Bands where GHz.
  5. 21 back to footnote reference 21 For more information, please refer to the following link: http://telesat.ca/en/Anik_Fleet.
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