Radio Spectrum Inventory: A 2010 Snapshot — Canada

Chapter 12–Licence-Exempt Devices

12.1 Background

Consumers and businesses prefer the convenience and low cost of licence-exempt radio devices and this represents a significant benefit to Canadians. In accordance with the Radiocommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, users of licence-exempt radio devices are exempted only from the requirement to obtain a radio licence. However, these radio devices must still comply with all other relevant regulatory requirements. Unlike licensed radio systems that are afforded some protection by obtaining a licence, licence-exempt radio devices must operate on a strict no-interference, no-protection basis in relation to other radio systems. Accordingly, licence-exempt radio devices are not permitted to cause interference to licensed radio systems and users are not permitted to claim protection from potential interference.

12.1.1 Definition of Application

Licence-exempt devices can be classified into two broad terms: industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) devices; and consumer devices.

As per the ITU definition, ISM applications include the operation of equipment or appliances designed to generate and use locally radio frequency energy for industrial, scientific, medical, domestic or similar purposes, excluding applications in the field of telecommunications.

Within the same licence-exempt status, consumer devices use radio frequency energy in radio equipment intended for everyday use. The main difference between ISM devices and consumer devices is the user. ISM devices are used within the industrial, scientific and medical community, whereas consumer devices are used by the general public in a residential environment.

12.1.2 Broad Description of Type of Service/Applications

ISM applications are listed in accordance with the recommendation ITU-R SM.1056 (see also data in Annex 12.1) as follows:

Introduction Heating Equipment (Below 1 MHz)
  • Domestic induction cookers
  • Metal melting
  • Billet heating
  • Tube welding
  • Soldering and brazing
  • Component heating
  • Spot welding
  • Selective surface heat treating of metal parts
  • Semiconductor crystal growing and refining
  • Seam bonding of auto body surfaces
  • Package sealing
  • Heating strip steel for galvanizing, annealing and paint drying
RF Dielectric Heating Equipment (1-100 MHz)
  • Veneer and lumber drying
  • Textile drying
  • Fibreglass drying
  • Paper and paper coating drying
  • Plastic preheating
  • Plastic welding and moulding
  • Food post-baking and drying
  • Meat and fish thawing
  • Foundry core drying
  • Glue drying
  • Film drying
  • Adhesive curing
  • Material preheating
Medical Equipment
  • Short-wave and microwave diathermy and hyperthermia equipment
  • Electrical surgical units (ESU)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasonic diagnostic imaging
Microwave Equipment (above 900 MHz)
  • Domestic and commercial microwave ovens
  • Food tempering, thawing and cooking
  • UV paint and coating curing
  • Rubber vulcanization
  • Pharmaceutical processing
Miscellaneous Equipment
  • RF excited arc welders
  • Spark erosion equipment
Laboratory and Scientific Equipment
  • Signal generators
  • Measuring receivers
  • Frequency counters
  • Flow meters
  • Spectrum analyzers
  • Weighing machines
  • Chemical analysis machines
  • Electronic microscopes
  • Switched mode power supplies (not incorporated in an equipment)

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Some examples of consumer devices include:
Remote Control
  • Garage door openers
  • Household electric appliances–ceiling fans, fireplaces
  • Alarm systems
  • Model aircraft
Communication and Entertainment Devices
  • Bluetooth
  • Local area network devices (WiFi)
  • Cordless telephones
  • Auditory assistance
  • Wireless microphones
  • Family radio service and general mobile radio service (walkie-talkies)
  • Field disturbance sensors (motion detectors)
  • Vehicle mounted radar systems

12.2 Current Allocations and Utilization

12.2.1 List of allocated bands

The following radiofrequency bands are allocated for ISM applications in the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations:

Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations 9 kHz to 275 GHz (December 2009 Edition)
Frequency Bands (MHz; 106 Hz)
2 400-2 500
5 725-5 875
24 000-24 250
61 000-61 500
122 000-123 000
244 000-246 000

Consumer devices operate in various frequency bands and must follow emission standards based on the frequency band of operation. There are some restricted frequency bands which are primarily designated for safety-of-life services, some satellite downlinks, radio astronomy and government uses.

12.2.2 Band Plans (pairing) where applicable

Band plans are not applicable to consumer or ISM devices.

12.2.3 Type of Licence (spectrum vs. frequency)

Consumer devices and ISM applications are operated as licence-exempt devices in Canada. However, they are certified to applicable radio standard specifications (RSS).

Licence-Exempt use from 52 MHz to 38 GHz (for additional information, refer to Annex 1):

Note: Licence-exempt consumer radio apparatus has secondary allocated spectrum in the majority of Frequency Bands. The chart below shows the ISM bans and the 5 GHz LE-LAN bands.

Licence-Exempt use from 52 GHz [Description of Figure]

12.2.4 Comparison with the United States

In the United States, the FCC outlines ISM radiofrequency bands, field strength and conduction limits under the Code of Federal Regulations Title (CFR) 47, parts 2 and 18. Part 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations Title (CFR) contains information on radiofrequency devices, including consumer devices.

The following table outlines ISM radiofrequency bands for the ITU, Industry Canada and the FCC, for comparison purposes.

Comparison between ITU-R, Industry Canada and the FCC (United States) ISM Radiofrequency Bands (MHz, 106 Hz)
ITU-R (SM.1056) Industry Canada, (CTFA) FCC, (CFR 47 Part 18)
N/A–Not Available (Not designated for ISM)
6.765-6.795 6.765-6.795 6.765-6.795
13.553-13.567 13.553-13.567 13.553-13 567
26.957-27.283 26.957-27.283 26.957-27.283
40.66-40.70 40.66-40.70 40.66-40.70
433.05-434.79 433.05-434.79 N/A
902-928 902-928 902-928
2 400-2 500 2 400-2 500 2 400-2 500
5 725-5 825 5 725-5 875 5 725-5 875
24 000-24 250 24 000-24 250 24 000-24 250
61 000-61 500 61 000-61 500 61 000-61 500
122 000-123 000 122 000-123 000 122 000-123 000
244 000-246 000 244 000-246 000 244 000-246 000

12.3 Spectrum Inventory and Analysis

12.3.1 Major Users

As mentioned previously, licence-exempt ISM devices are operated by the industrial, scientific and medical community. Consumer devices are used by the general public in a residential environment.

12.3.2 Number of Assignments and Geographic Information

The number of consumer devices used in Canada can only be estimated based on the number of models certified in Canada and assumptions on the typical household use of these devices. Assuming that a typical household in Canada could have up to twenty (20) consumer devices, and based on the 2006 census data of 12,437,470 households in Canada, that would indicate that there could be up to 250 million consumer devices in Canada.

12.3.3 Spectrum Usage

Licence-exempt devices are everywhere in Canada.

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