Consultation on a Licensing Framework for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) — 2500 MHz Band

October 2012


1. Intent

1. Through the release of this paper, Industry Canada is hereby initiating a consultation on a licensing framework for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) in the band 2500-2690 MHz (also known as the 2500 MHz band) as announced in Canada Gazette notice SMSE-002-12, Policy and Technical Framework: Mobile Broadband Services (MBS)700 MHz Band, Broadband Radio Service (BRS)2500 MHz Band.Footnote 1

2. In February 2011, through Canada Gazette notice SMSE-005-11, Decisions on a Band Plan for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Consultation on a Policy and Technical Framework to License Spectrum in the Band 2500-2690 MHz,Footnote 2 Industry Canada announced its decisions related to the adoption of a new band plan, as well as the mapping of Multipoint Communications Systems (MCS) and Multipoint Distribution Service (MDS) licensees into the new BRS band plan.

3. In SMSE-005-11, Industry Canada also initiated the consultation on a policy and technical framework to license spectrum in the 2500 MHz band. The subsequent decisions were announced in the SMSE-002-12Footnote 3 document.

4. Industry Canada is now seeking comments on licensing considerations related to auction format, rules and processes, as well as on conditions of licence for spectrum in the 2500 MHz band. Although many of the proposals in this consultation are similar to those presented in the April 2012 Consultation on a Licensing Framework for Mobile Broadband Services (MBS) — 700 MHz Band,Footnote 4 the two consultations will involve separate considerations and decisions. The inclusion of similar proposals herein should not be taken as an indication of a decision or direction taken by Industry Canada.


2. Background

5. The Minister of Industry, through the Department of Industry Act, the Radiocommunication Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, with due regard to the objectives of the Canadian telecommunications policy set out in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act, is responsible for spectrum management in Canada. As such, the Minister is responsible for developing national policies for spectrum utilization and ensuring effective management of the radio frequency spectrum resource.

6. In developing a licensing framework for BRS in the 2500 MHz band, Industry Canada will be guided by the objectives stated in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act, the policy objective stated in the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (SPFC)Footnote 5 to maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from the use of the radio frequency spectrum, and the policy objectives outlined in SMSE-002-12, Footnote 6 as follows:

  • sustained competition in the wireless telecommunications services market so that consumers and businesses benefit from competitive pricing and choice in service offerings;
  • robust investment and innovation by wireless telecommunications carriers so that Canadians benefit from world-class networks and the latest technologies; and
  • availability of these benefits to Canadians across the country, including those in rural areas, in a timely fashion.

7. Industry Canada will also be guided by the general approaches and processes outlined in the Framework for Spectrum Auctions in Canada (FSAC),Footnote 7 revised in March 2011.


3. General

8. In SMSE-002-12, Industry Canada announced specific policy decisions related to the licensing process for spectrum in the 2500 MHz band. Consistent with those decisions, the following provides an overview of the licences to be auctioned:

  • licences will be "spectrum licences in respect of the utilization of specified radio frequencies within a defined geographic area," as defined in subparagraph 5(1)(a)(i.1) of the Radiocommunication Act;
  • licences will be auctioned using Tier 3 service areas (58 service areas), except in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, where Tier 4 service areas (three service areas) will be used;
  • in the bands 2500-2570 MHz and 2620-2690 MHz ("the paired spectrum"), the spectrum will be licensed in blocks of 10 + 10 MHz in each available service area;
  • in the band 2570-2620 MHz ("the unpaired spectrum"), the spectrum will be licensed in blocks of 25 MHz (which includes the respective 5 MHz restricted band)Footnote 8 in each available service area;
  • a total of 318 licences will be offered;
  • excluding the restricted bands (2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz), a spectrum aggregation limit of 40 MHz will apply in each service area of the 2500 MHz band, except in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut where there is no limit. This amount represents the total spectrum licence holdings in the 2500 MHz band, including both paired and unpaired spectrum, by each licensee in each licence area;
  • in service areas where an existing licensee already has spectrum licence holdings in excess of the spectrum aggregation limit, the licensee will not be required to divest any such holdings in order to meet the spectrum aggregation limit. However, such licensees will not be eligible to bid for additional licences in the auction process or otherwise obtain additional licences in service areas where the limit has been met or exceeded.

9. For a complete list of policy decisions related to the 2500 MHz band, refer to Section C of SMSE-002-12.Footnote 9

3.1 Spectrum Available for Licensing

10. As per SMSE-005-11, the following general band plan was adopted for BRS in the 2500 MHz band (see Figure 1). Also shown in the figure is the 5 MHz block grid used for referencing purposes in SMSE-005-11.

Figure 1 — General band plan for BRS in the band 2500-2690 MHz

Figure 1 — General band plan for 

BRS in the band 2500-2690 MHz (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 1

This chart shows the general band plan for Broadband Radio Service (BRS) in the band 2500-2690 MHz. Channels A1 to A14 (2500 to 2570 MHz) are paired with channels A1’ to A14’ (2620 to 2690 MHz). Networks using frequency division duplex (FDD) technology will use channels A1 to A14 for the transmission of their terminal equipment, whereas channels A1’ to A14’ will be used for the transmission of their base stations. Channels B1 to B10 (2570 to 2620 MHz) are unpaired channels. Networks using time division duplex (TDD) technology will use these channels for all equipment. In addition, channel B1 at 2570 MHz to 2575 MHz and channel B10 at 2615 MHz to 2620 MHz are also referred to as restricted bands. Operation in the restricted bands is specified in document SMSE-005- 11.

* Note: The policy with respect to operation in the restricted bands (2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz) is specified in SMSE-005-11.

11. Figures 2 to 5 and Annex A show the amount of spectrum available in the three RegionsFootnote 10 of Canada:

 

Figure 2 — Map of Regions

Figure 2 — 

Map of Regions (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 2

This figure shows a map of Canada with respect to the amount of spectrum to be auctioned. Three Regions are shown. Region A has 50 + 50 MHz (paired) and 25 MHz (unpaired). These areas are the Atlantic Provinces, most of Quebec, most of Ontario, the province of Alberta, most of British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Region B has 30 + 30 MHz (paired) to be auctioned. These areas are southern areas of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, as well as the province of Saskatchewan. Region C is Manitoba and has 20 + 20 MHz (paired), 30 + 30 MHz (paired) and 25 MHz (unpaired) to be auctioned.

Figure 3 — Spectrum available for licensing in Region A

Figure 3 — Spectrum available for 

licensing in Region A (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 3

This chart shows that in Region A, channels A5 to A14 paired with A5’ to A14’ (2520 to 2570 MHz paired with 2640 MHz to 2690 MHz), a total of 50 + 50 MHz of paired spectrum is available for auction. In addition, channels B6 to B10 (2595 MHz to 2620 MHz), a total of 25 MHz of unpaired spectrum is also available for auction. The figure also shows that in the unpaired spectrum channel B10 (2615 MHz to 2620 MHz), 5 MHz is a restricted band.

Figure 4 — Spectrum available for licensing in Region B

Figure 4 — Spectrum available for 

licensing in Region B (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 4

This chart shows that in Region B, channels A9 to A14 paired with A9’ to A14’ (2540 MHz to 2570 MHz paired with 2660 MHz to 2690 MHz), a total of 30 + 30 MHz of paired spectrum is available for auction.

Figure 5 — Spectrum available for licensing in Region C

Figure 5 — Spectrum available for 

licensing in Region C (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 5

This chart shows that in Region C, channels A1 to A4 paired with A1’ to A4’ (2500 MHz to 2520 MHz paired with 2620 MHz to 2640 MHz) and channels A9 to A14 paired with A9’ to A14’ (2540 MHz to 2570 MHz paired with 2660 MHz to 2690 MHz), a total of 50 + 50 MHz of paired spectrum is available for auction. In addition, channels B1 to B5 (2570 MHz to 2595 MHz), a total of 25 MHz of unpaired spectrum is also available for auction. The figure also shows that in the unpaired spectrum channel B1 (2570 MHz to 2575 MHz), 5 MHz is a restricted band.

12. As shown in figures 3 to 5, a minimum of 30 + 30 MHz and a maximum of 50 + 50 MHz of paired spectrum are available for licensing throughout Canada. As well, 25 MHz of unpaired spectrum (including the respective 5 MHz restricted band) is available for licensing in most areas across the nation.

3.2 Radio Frequency Block Arrangement Description

13. In accordance with SMSE-002-12, Policy and Technical Framework, Mobile Broadband Services (MBS)700 MHz Band, Broadband Radio Service (BRS)2500 MHz Band,

  • the band 2500-2570 MHz, which is paired with the band 2620-2690 MHz, is divided into seven 10  + 10 MHz paired blocks with a frequency separation of 120 MHz; and
  • the band 2570-2620 MHz is divided into two 25 MHz unpaired blocks. The unpaired blocks will each include a 5 MHz restricted band separating the paired and unpaired spectrum (i.e. 2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz).

14. The BRS 2500 MHz band plan and block sizes are shown in Table 1 and Figure 6 respectively.

Table 1 — BRS Frequency Blocks
Block Frequencies Total Spectrum Pairing
A / A’ 2500-2510 MHz / 2620-2630 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
B / B’ 2510-2520 MHz / 2630-2640 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
C / C’ 2520-2530 MHz / 2640-2650 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
D / D’ 2530-2540 MHz / 2650-2660 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
E / E’ 2540-2550 MHz / 2660-2670 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
F / F’ 2550-2560 MHz / 2670-2680 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
G / G’ 2560-2570 MHz / 2680-2690 MHz 10 + 10 MHz paired
H 2570-2595 MHz 25 MHz
(includes 5 MHz restricted band)
unpaired
I 2595-2620 MHz 25 MHz
(includes 5 MHz restricted band)
unpaired

Figure 6 — BRS Frequency Block Plan

Figure 6 — BRS Frequency Block 

Plan (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 6

This chart shows the frequency blocks, used for licensing purposes, in the 2500 MHz band. The frequency blocks are made up of the channels described in Figure 1. In the current figure, the band 2500-2570 MHz is divided into seven 10 MHz blocks, labelled Blocks A to G. This band is paired with the band 2620-2690 MHz, also divided into seven 10 MHz blocks, labelled Blocks A’ to G’. The band 2570-2620 MHz is divided into two 25 MHz unpaired blocks, labelled Blocks H and I. These unpaired blocks each include a 5 MHz restricted band (RB) separating the paired and unpaired spectrum (i.e. the band 2570-2575 MHz in Block H and the band 2615-2620 MHz in Block I). Operation in the restricted bands is specified in document SMSE-005-11.

*Restricted Band

Note: The policy with respect to operation in the restricted bands 2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz is specified in SMSE-005-11.

15. Various channel sizes may be used within the blocks depending on technology choices of the licensee, subject to the applicable Standard Radio System Plan (SRSP) and/or Radio Standards Specifications (RSS).

16. For Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) operations in the paired spectrum, the subscriber-to-base links are to be deployed in the band 2500-2570 MHz, and the base-to-subscriber links are to be deployed in the band 2620-2690 MHz.

17. The operation of non-FDD systems in the bands 2500-2570 MHz and 2620-2690 MHz are subject to the operation and displacement policy in SMSE-005-11.

18. Time Division Duplex (TDD) systems may operate in the band 2570-2620 MHz.

3.3 Restricted Bands

19. As per SMSE-005-11, Industry Canada decided to impose 5 MHz restricted bands, 2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz, to mitigate interference between systems operating in the paired and unpaired spectrum.

20. TDD operations by licensees within the restricted bands 2570-2575 MHz and 2615-2620 MHz are permitted on a no-protection, no-interference basis with respect to FDD operations in the paired spectrum.

21. The technical rules for operation within the 2500 MHz band restricted bands will be provided in an SRSP and/or RSS.

3.4 Existing Licensees in the 2500 MHz Band

22. Site-specific fixed service licensees currently operate in the 2500 MHz band in certain areas of British Columbia and Quebec. These existing licences are subject to transition policies set-out in SMSE-005-11Footnote 11 and are listed in Annex B. The site-specific licences in Alberta and the Canadian Radio television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) licence-exempt broadcasting stations discussed in SMSE-005-11 are no longer in operation.

23. Site-specific licences in Manitoba are grandfathered, as stated in DGSO-001-10,Footnote 12 and may continue to operate in the 2500 MHz band. These existing licensees are protected from harmful interference from BRS. An updated list of the grandfathered licences in Manitoba is provided in Annex C.

24. Furthermore, there may be MCS and BRS licensees that operate in the 2500 MHz band and that have yet to transition their systems to the new band plan. These systems are subject to the transition policies set out in SMSE-005-11.Footnote 13 Up-to-date lists of MCS and BRS licensees are available through Industry Canada’s Spectrum Licence Browser at http://sd.ic.gc.ca/pls/engdoc_anon/speclic_browser$.startup.

3.5 Services in Adjacent Bands

25. In accordance with the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations,Footnote 14 authorized stations may be operating the following services within the adjacent frequency bands:

  • mobile-satellite service (MSS) downlink operations in the band 2483.5-2500 MHz;
  • radio astronomy serviceFootnote 15 (RAS) in the band 2690-2700 MHz;
  • ground-based radar operations in the band 2700-2900 MHz for aeronautical radionavigation services or meteorological purposes; and
  • shore-based radar operations in the band 2850-2900 MHz for maritime radionavigation services.

26. In light of the above, BRS operations in the 2500 MHz band will be required to coexist and may need to be coordinated with the operations of authorized stations in the aforementioned bands.

27. Further details will be provided in a SRSP and/or RSS, which will be developed in consultation with industry.

3.6 Tier Sizes

28. All spectrum blocks (paired and unpaired) available for auction shall be licensed on a Tier 3 basis, with the exception of the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, where Tier 4 licence areas will be used. Table 2 summarizes the frequency blocks, tiers and the number of licences available for the 2500 MHz auction. Annex A provides a more detailed table of spectrum availability for all licence areas.

Table 2 — Block size, tiers and number of licences available for the 2500 MHz auction in each Region
  Block Frequency Pairing MHz Tier Licences
Region A
(excluding the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut)
C/C’ 2520-2530 MHz / 2640-2650 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 40
D/D’ 2530-2540 MHz / 2650-2660 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 40
E/E’ 2540-2550 MHz / 2660-2670 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 40
F/F’ 2550-2560 MHz / 2670-2680 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 40
G/G’ 2560-2570 MHz / 2680-2690 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 40
I 2595-2620 MHz Table note * unpaired 25 Table note * 3 40
Region A
(the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut only)
C/C’ 2520-2530 MHz / 2640-2650 MHz paired 10 + 10 4 3
D/D’ 2530-2540 MHz / 2650-2660 MHz paired 10 + 10 4 3
E/E’ 2540-2550 MHz / 2660-2670 MHz paired 10 + 10 4 3
F/F’ 2550-2560 MHz / 2670-2680 MHz paired 10 + 10 4 3
G/G’ 2560-2570 MHz / 2680-2690 MHz paired 10 + 10 4 3
I 2595-2620 MHz Table note * unpaired 25 Table note * 4 3
Region B E/E’ 2540-2550 MHz / 2660-2670 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 16
F/F’ 2550-2560 MHz / 2670-2680 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 16
G/G’ 2560-2570 MHz / 2680-2690 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 16
Region C A/A’ 2500-2510 MHz / 2620-2630 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 2
B/B’ 2510-2520 MHz / 2630-2640 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 2
E/E’ 2540-2550 MHz / 2660-2670 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 2
F/F’ 2550-2560 MHz / 2670-2680 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 2
G/G’ 2560-2570 MHz / 2680-2690 MHz paired 10 + 10 3 2
H 2570-2595 MHz Table note * unpaired 25 Table note * 3 2

3.7 Service Area for Lloydminster (Alberta/Saskatchewan)

29. In SMSE-002-12, Industry Canada indicated that Tier 3 and Tier 4 service areas will be used to license the frequency blocks for the auction of 2500 MHz spectrum licences. It also stated that the tier boundaries around Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, would be discussed in the 700 MHz and 2500 MHz consultations on licensing issues.

30. The issue concerning Lloydminster was raised by SaskTel in its response to SMSE-005-11 in which it proposed that tier area boundaries around Lloydminster warrant further consideration by Industry Canada.

31. Industry Canada uses service areas, called tiers, for all competitive licensing processes. These areas are based on Statistics Canada’s Census Divisions and Subdivisions. Four tier sizes, as outlined in the document Service Areas for Competitive Licensing, have been established to accommodate various wireless services, applications and frequency bands. The definition of the service areas within these tiers and accompanying maps and data tables are available on Industry Canada’s website.Footnote 16

32. The smallest tier service areas roll up to fit within the larger tier areas. Some minor deviations from provincial borders exist. These deviations were made around provincial borders to avoid having a service area boundary cut through a population centre, thereby minimizing potential interference problems.

33. For example, a large portion of Lloydminster, which falls in both Saskatchewan and Alberta, has been captured by service area 4-129 Lloydminster (Alberta). Consequently, the majority of the City of Lloydminster is included in service area 4-129 Lloydminster (Alberta) and respectively in the Tier 3 service area 3-44 (Edmonton) and Tier 2 service area 2-12 (Alberta). As the smaller service area 4-129 is part of the Alberta tier, the effect is that the majority of the City of Lloydminster is currently part of the Alberta service area in tiers 2, 3 and 4.

34. Industry Canada considers that the rationale for the deviations around provincial borders continues to be valid and that any changes which would affect the licensing consistency of existing and future licensing processes are not warranted. Therefore, it is proposed that the current boundaries surrounding service area 4-129 (and thus tiers 3-44 and 2-12) continue to apply.

3-1 Industry Canada is seeking comments on whether the service area boundary for licences in the 2500 MHz band should deviate from the provincial boundary around the City of Lloydminster (Alberta/Saskatchewan).

Note: Annex I provides a summary of all proposals for consideration.

Date modified: