Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 7–Satellite Services

7.3 Spectrum Inventory and Analysis

7.3.1 Frequency Utilization by Band

7.3.1.2 BSS
12 GHz BSS

The 12 GHz BSS band is currently the only band with implemented Canadian BSS satellites serving Canadians. The 12 GHz BSS services include the satellite subscriber television service provided by Bell Canada.

Figure 7.10 shows the number of frequency assignments in the 12 GHz BSS band, which currently total 223. Figure 7.10 demonstrates that there has been sustained growth in this band, utilization having grown 757.7% since 2000. The top five users of frequency assignments in this band are Telesat Canada, Bell ExpressVu LP, Ciel Satellite LP, Alberta Sustainable Resources Development and SED Systems.

Figure 7.9–Portion of total number of approved foreign satellites in each FSS band in 2010
Figure 7.9–Portion of total number of approved foreign satellites in each FSS band in 2010 [Description of Figure 7.9]

Table 7.7 gives a list of the authorized satellites and those approved in principle. It shows that there will potentially be one more BSS satellite (an increase of 14.29%) operating in the 12 GHz BSS band. Telesat Canada owns the majority of satellites already implemented with five BSS satellites having just brought Nimiq 5 into operation. New entrant Ciel Satellite LP already operates one BSS satellite (Ciel 2) in 12 GHz BSS and has approval for Ciel 4, which is its next proposed 12 GHz BSS satellite.

17 GHz BSS

To expand BSS capacity, additional bandwidth was allocated in ITU Region 2Footnote 22 by the ITU, which became available for use in 2007. The downlink of the 17 GHz BSS band completely overlaps that of the uplink of the 12 GHz BSS band in Canada. Thus, coordination is required between 12 GHz BSS feeder links and 17 GHz BSS satellites that share the band. To date, there have not been any licensed satellites implemented for operation in the 17 GHz BSS bands. However, since the 2006 Call for Applications to License Satellite Orbital Positions by Industry Canada,Footnote 23 there are seven satellite orbital positions with approvals in principle from Industry Canada. This suggests that there may be several new BSS satellites in operation in the 17 GHz band in the near future.

Figure 7.10–Ten-year trend showing the overall utilization of 12 GHz BSS frequency range
Ten-year trend showing the overall utilization of 12 Broadcasting Satellite Service frequency range [Description of Figure 7.10]
Table 7.7: Authorized and Approved Canadian 12 GHz BSS Satellites
Authorization Holder Satellite Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Satellites 7
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 8
Telesat Canada DTV-1R Implemented
Telesat Canada Echostar 6 Implemented
Telesat Canada Nimiq 5 Implemented
Telesat Canada Nimiq 1 Implemented
Telesat Canada Nimiq 2 Implemented
Telesat Canada Nimiq 4 Implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 2 Implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 4 Not yet implemented
Table 7.8: Authorized and Approved Canadian 17 BSS Satellites
Authorization Holder Satellite Implementation Status
Total Number of Implemented Satellites 0
Total Number of Authorized Satellites 7
Telesat Canada BSS3 Not yet implemented
Telesat Canada BSS2 Not yet implemented
Telesat Canada BSS1 Not yet implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 3 Not yet implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 6 Not yet implemented
Ciel Satellite LP Ciel 7 Not yet implemented
Telesat Canada Ka/BSS1 Not yet implemented
SDARS (2.31-2.36 GHz)

In the United States, the Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) is solely operated by XM Sirius satellite radio, after the FCC allowed XM and Sirius to merge. In Canada, XM (Satellite Radio Canada) and Sirius (Satellite Radio Canada) still compete as separate companies. SDARS consists of a constellation of satellites broadcasting audio content to be received by earth terminals. In city centres, where reception of satellite signals can be obstructed by buildings, terrestrial repeaters are operated to ensure consistent reception by users. Telesat Canada is the only company licensed in the portion of the 2.3 GHz band that allows the SDARS. Telesat Canada holds eight frequency assignments that are used to provide satellite telemetry, tracking and control for XM's satellites.

Summary

Although BSS VSATs are licence-exempt and no accurate representation of deployment can be made using analysis of database records, the information presented in this section suggests that Canada's BSS industry is in growth, with the number of frequency assignments in the 12 GHz BSS band (223), having grown 758% since 2000. Additionally, although 17 GHz BSS satellites have yet to be implemented, there are seven new satellites with approvals in principle from Industry Canada, suggesting growth in this band in the coming years.

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7.3.1.3MSS
L-Band (1 to 2 GHz)

The L-Band is Canada's most active MSS satellite MSAT-1. Recently, Skyterra (Canada) was given approval in principle to operate an ancillary terrestrial (ATC),Footnote 24 which acts as a complementary ground component to the satellite component of a telecommunications network. The ATC essentially allows the sharing of frequencies between terrestrial and satellite components of a network, making more efficient use of spectrum. This extends coverage to areas that are usually limited in the use of satellite networks, such as metropolitan areas with large buildings, while still giving coverage to areas that are typically not well served by terrestrial infrastructure, such as rural and northern regions.

Figure 7.11 shows a twelve-year trend depicting the use of L-Band frequency assignments. This chart was generated using information derived from biennial snapshots of the ALS database. Currently, there are only three entities (with 45 frequency assignments) in the L-Band (77). These are (in order of frequency utilization): Skyterra Corp., Stratos Wireless Inc. and the Government of Canada.

Figure 7.11–Twelve-year trend showing the overall utilization of L-Band frequency rangeFootnote 25
Twelve-year trend showing the overall utilization of L-Band frequency range [Description of Figure 7.11]

All entities operate licensed earth stations; however, Skyterra (Canada)/Skyterra Corp. is also licensed to operate its satellites at L-Band.

Table 7.9 lists all companies authorized to operate in L-Band. It should be noted that there are several more companies listed in this table than would be suggested by Figure 7.11, where there are only three MSS companies with frequency assignments. However, it must be emphasized that the MSS service providers are licensed using spectrum licences, which are not reflected into the IC database.

Table 7.9 also makes it clear that Skyterra (Canada) Inc/Skyterra Corp. is the most active L-Band user, with four satellites (two with ATC) authorized or authorized in principle. Skywave Mobile Communications has two service offerings using Inmarsat and Skyterra satellites to track ocean and terrestrial assets. All other MSS companies offer MSS through Inmarsat or Skyterra satellites. Currently, there are 12 licences authorized for MSS at L-Band, with two more authorized in principle.

Table 7.9: Mobile Satellite Service Providers Currently Authorized or Authorized in Principle with Spectrum Licences
Licence Holder Number of Licences Type of Service Satellite Type of Approval
Subtotal (Authorized) 12
Total (Authorized + AiP) 14
Outerlink Canada Corp. 1 MSAT-2 BGAN Authorized
Roadpost Inc. 1 INMARSAT BGAN Authorized
SITA Information Networking Computing Canada Inc. 1 INMARSAT BGAN Authorized
Skyterra (Canada) Inc./Skyterra Corp. 4 MSAT-1 General MSS Authorized
MSAT-2
MSAT-1
MSAT-2
SkyWave Mobile Communications 2 INMARSAT MSS to Ocean Locations Authorized
MSAT-2 MSS to Earth Locations Authorized
Stratos Wireless Inc. 1 INMARSAT General MSS Authorized
Virgin Technologies Inc. 1 INMARSAT BGAN Authorized
Wireless Matrix Inc. 1 MSAT-2 BGAN Authorized
Skyterra (Canada) 2 MSV-1 MSS/ATC Authorized in Principle (AiP)
MSV-2

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Figure 7.12 shows the current utilization of L-Band frequency assignments in Table 7.9. It is clear that all L-Band frequency assignments are currently utilized by MSS.

S-Band (2 to 4 GHz)

Currently, there is one MSS company with authorization to operate in the S-Band: Terrestar Networks (Canada) Inc./Terrestar Solutions (Canada), henceforth referred to as Terrestar (Canada). Terrestar (Canada) is a Canadian satellite operator, running Canadian MSS satellite Terrestar-1. Figure 7.13 shows the portion of the S-Band that Terrestar (Canada) is authorized to use, which encompasses one quarter of the S-Band. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Terrestar (Canada) has recently received special authorization to operate an ATC to augment the services that it provides from its S-Band satellite Terrestar-1.Footnote 26 Terrestar (Canada) owns a spectrum licence to operate Terrestar-1 and its MSS handsets in the MSS S-Band. Terrestar (Canada) also owns five radio licences (registered in ALS) using 10 frequency assignments in the MSS S-Band.

In Canada, the S-Band is also authorized for mobile and fixed terrestrial services; however, MSS have priority over fixed terrestrial services; where a moratorium has been placed on the licensing of any new fixed terrestrial services and some fixed terrestrial services are to be displaced in the S-Band to make room for the implementation of MSS.Footnote 27 This amendment to the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocation was made in 2006.

Figure 7.12–CurrentFootnote 28 MSS utilization of L-Band frequency range
Figure 7.12–CurrentFootnote 28 MSS utilization of L-Band frequency range [Description of Figure 7.12]
Figure 7.13–CurrentFootnote 29 MSS utilization of S-Band frequency range
Figure 7.13–CurrentFootnote 29 MSS utilization of S-Band frequency range [Description of Figure 7.13]
Big LEO Band (1610-1626.5 MHz and 2483.5-2500 MHz)

In the Big LEO Band there are currently two authorized MSS service providers: Globalstar Canada Satellite Corp. and Iridium Satellite Canada Ltd. Figure 7.14 illustrates the MSS utilization of the S-Band by these companies, with roughly 90.6% of the band being utilized. Globalstar Canada Satellite Corp. and Iridium Satellite Canada Ltd. both operate MSS using a large constellation of non-GSO satellites (in low earth orbit (LEO)). Both Globalstar Canada Satellite Corp. and Iridium Satellite Canada Ltd.'s LEO are authorized through a spectrum licence and, as a result, there are no ALS database entries for MSS at Big LEO Band.

Figure 7.14–CurrentFootnote 30 MSS utilization of Big LEO Band frequency range
Figure 7.14–CurrentFootnote 30 MSS utilization of Big LEO Band frequency range [Description of Figure 7.14]

While these LEO MSS have the advantage of having near-worldwide coverage of the planet for low-speed voice and data communications, several satellites are required to ensure a constellation that maintains this coverage. LEO MSS satellite constellations require complicated service handoffs between satellites in the constellation; however, they have less perceived voice delay in communications when compared with MSS services that use GSO satellites.

Other MSS

There are other MSS operators and service providers that are authorized to use MSS frequencies, other than those in the L-Band, S-Band and Big LEO Band. One of those companies is ORBCOMM Canada Inc., which operates a MSS data service using an LEO satellite constellation in the following bands: 148-149 MHz for uplink; and bands in 137-138 and 400-401 MHzFootnote 31 for downlink. SpaceQuest Canada Inc. is also authorized to use the 400 MHz band (399.9-400.05 MHz; 400.05-400.65 MHz) and operates as a service provider by using the LATINSAT LEO constellation for asset tracking and data monitoring.

Connexion by Boeing of Canada is authorized to operate AMSS in the Ku-Band; however, this service remains for government users only, as Boeing began phasing out its consumer AMSS in 2007. The company known as 32221777 Nova Scotia Limited is also authorized to operate AMSS in the Ku-Band. Panasonic Canada Inc. is authorized to operate Ku-Band subscriber earth stations on board aircraft. ViaSat Canada Company is authorized to operate Ku-Band subscriber stations on board vessels.

Summary

Canada has two MSS satellites, MSAT-1 and Terrestar-1, operated by Skyterra (Canada) and Terrestar (Canada) respectively. L-Band boasts several MSS service providers and operators. Skyterra (Canada) and Terrestar (Canada) have acquired a special authorization and an approval in principle respectively, to operate ATC to make more efficient use of MSS spectrum. The S-Band is not yet fully utilized by MSS; however, the intent to limit utilization of the S-Band for fixed terrestrial services was initiated in 2006 and is to be accomplished by displacing some fixed terrestrial services and by imposing a moratorium on the licensing of any new fixed terrestrial services in this band. The Big LEO Band has two major players (Globalstar Canada Satellite Corp. and Iridium Satellite Canada Ltd.), with both offer services using a constellation of LEO satellites. The Big LEO Band is 90.1% utilized.

7.3.2 Geographic Deployment

Satellite services are typically deployed in areas where it would be too expensive to deploy terrestrial infrastructure. These areas are typically in northern and rural regions of Canada. For example, northern or rural communities not connected to broadband may opt to use FSS for connection as was exampled by the selection of satellite service providers in the Canada Broadband Plan.Footnote 32

There is a requirement that satellites deployed in Canada provide coverage of northern Canada, as well as the hotspots in the south. This means that, unlike terrestrial systems, a single radiocommunications device can provide national coverage. Penetration will depend on which areas a service provider wishes to serve. In general, community BSS deployment can be found in both rural and urban areas.


Footnotes

  1. 22 back to footnote reference 22 ITU Region 2 is not limited to, but includes the territories in the continents of North and South America.
  2. 23 back to footnote reference 23 For more information on the 2006 Call for Applications to License Satellite Orbital Positions, refer to the following link: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf08522.html.
  3. 24 back to footnote reference 24 For more information, refer to the following link: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09824.html.
  4. 25 back to footnote reference 25 Please note that TMI Communications MSS L-Band.
  5. 26 back to footnote reference 26 For more information, please refer to the following link: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09858.html.
  6. 27 back to footnote reference 27 For more information, please refer to the following link: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/cane2009edition-eng.pdf/$FILE/cane2009edition-eng.pdf.
  7. 28 back to footnote reference 28 As of March 31, 2010.
  8. 29 back to footnote reference 29 As of March 31, 2010.
  9. 30 back to footnote reference 30 As of March 31, 2010.
  10. 31 back to footnote reference 31 These bands are: 137.1825-137.3175 MHz.
  11. 32 back to footnote reference 32 For more information, please refer to: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf00050.html.
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