Consultation on Spectrum Utilization Policies and Technical Requirements Related to Backhaul Spectrum in Various Bands, Including Bands Shared With Satellite, Mobile and Other Services

5. Consideration of Specific Frequency Bands

As part of Industry Canada’s commitment to ensuring the orderly development and efficient operation of radiocommunications in Canada, and to assist it in assessing both traditional and potential new backhaul bands, the Department is seeking comments on several specific frequency bands, each with its own unique characteristics. The following sections identify potential bands for backhaul, as well as frequency bands that although already identified for backhaul, are currently underutilized for backhaul purposes.

5.1 4 GHz Band (3700-4200 MHz)

The 4 GHz band is available for licensing by high-capacity, point-to-point radio systems in the FS, shared equally on a primary basis with the FSS (space-to-Earth) , known as the conventional C-band. At present, there is limited FS use of this band, with fewer than 60 links Canada-wide, as heavy route microwave systems were gradually replaced through the 1990s by national fibre systems. However, with the recent introduction of regional, provincial and national new entrants into the telecommunications market, there may be a renewed interest in heavy route, long-haul microwave systems as they look to build out their networks.

The Department is seeking comments regarding deployments within the 4 GHz band, including the following:

5-1
Is there any interest in the deployment of new heavy route backhaul systems or the expansion/growth of existing systems within the band? What is the anticipated time frame?
5-2
Are there technical characteristics or regulatory provisions limiting deployment within the band (e.g. capacity designation)?
5-3
Provide proposals on specific revisions to policy and/or technical standards to improve usage of the band.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to the use of this spectrum.

Internationally, there has been interest in making the band 3400-3800 MHz available for a range of mobile applications. Europe in particular is interested in the band for mobile/fixed communications networks, including International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). Given this wide-reaching interest, the band 3400-3800 MHz may be subject to a future policy review to determine if the band is required for other uses, taking into account other services such as the FSS in bands above 3.7 GHz.

5.2 6930-7125 MHz

The band 6930-7125 MHz is used for one-way television auxiliary services, including TV pickup for the transmission of television programs to a television broadcast studio or to a cable television head-end (generally from mobile studio to main studio), and for temporary TV links. When covering breaking news events, fast deployment is often required for TV pickup and temporary TV operations. In an attempt to facilitate this fast deployment, broadcasters are licensed for multiple frequencies within a given area. However, they are usually only authorized to use a single frequency at a time within their licensed area. Although primarily located in the metropolitan areas, these systems may also be deployed in other areas. As such, inter-user domestic coordination mechanisms have been established to ensure interference-free operation when broadcasters cover events in the same geographical area.

FS use in the adjacent band 6425-6930 MHz includes low-, medium- and high-capacity systems using digital modulation, radio systems using analog modulation and television STLs. The FS and FSS (Earth-to- space) share the band 6425-7075 MHz on a primary basis and the radio astronomy service also operates in the band 6650-6675.2 MHz. Low-, medium-, and high-capacity digital point-to-point radio systems in the FS also operate in the 7125-7725 MHz band. As the band 6930-7125 MHz and both adjacent bands are used by the FS, the band 6930-7125 MHz may be appropriate for backhaul applications; however, the introduction of fixed two-way services may affect the flexibility of broadcasters in covering news events given the unpredictable nature of these activities and existing deployments in the band.

In the United States, this particular frequency range is used by similar services, namely the TV Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS), which transmits program material from the site of a local news story to the studio, and the Cable TV Relay Service (CARS), which distributes programming to microwave centres. As part of the United States’ effort to ensure sufficient spectrum for wireless backhaul through the release of FCC 11-120,Footnote 31 the FCC will update Part 101 of the Rules to permit FS operators to share the bands 6875-6975 MHz and 7025-7125 MHz with fixed and mobile BAS and CARS operators in areas where TV pickup operations are not licensed. Two 25 MHz channels (6975-7025 MHz) will be reserved for TV pickup operations outside of their local BAS and CARS areas of operation.

5-4
The Department is seeking comments on deploying fixed two-way backhaul systems within the band 6930-7125 MHz. Please specifically address any technical issues, the feasibility of sharing, as well as any coordination considerations with the FSS and transportable TV pickup operations.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to the use of this spectrum.

5.3 7 GHz Band (7125-7725 MHz)

The 7 GHz band is allocated on a primary basis to the FS. Portions of this band are also allocated on a primary basis to the FSS (space-to- Earth), space research (Earth-to-space) and meteorological-satellite (space-to- Earth) services. The use of the FSS allocation within the band 7250-7750 MHz is limited to the Government of Canada. The fixed portion is designated for high-, medium- and low-capacity systems through two sub-plans with a transmit/receive separation of 175 MHz and 150 MHz respectively (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Current 7 GHz Band Plan (SRSP- 307.1, Issue 5)

Current 7 GHz Band Plan (SRSP-307.1, Issue 5) (the long 

description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 3

This diagram represents the 7 GHz band plan as defined in SRSP-307.1, Issue 5. The band plan is divided into two sub-plans. Sub-plan I spans 7125 to 7250 MHz paired with 7300 to 7425 MHz. Each portion is 125 MHz. Sub-plan II spans 7425 to 7575 MHz paired with 7575 to 7725 MHz. Each portion is 150 MHz.

FS assignments in this band may accommodate point-to-point fixed systems, including essential circuits that support the operation of power generating plants and high voltage transmission lines. Although the defined radio frequency channel arrangements provide for six RF channel bandwidths (30 MHz, 20 MHz, 10 MHz, 7.5 MHz, 5 MHz and 2.5 MHz), only the electric power utilities have been granted preferred, but not exclusive, access to the 30 MHz bandwidth channels for the carriage of critical telemetry, control and protection circuits. However, in areas of congestion, these channels may be assigned to other users.

5-5
Given the demand for additional spectrum, the Department is seeking comments on providing other users with access to all channels, including 30 MHz bandwidth channels within the band.

Traditionally, power utilities have employed various diversity techniques to meet their stringent reliability requirements, including route, space and frequency diversity. Frequency diversity refers to the simultaneous transmission of the same traffic over multiple RF frequency channels. Given that frequency diversity is not as spectrally efficient as other diversity techniques (e.g. space diversity), the Department does not normally encourage its use. However, within the 7 GHz band, the use of frequency diversity is explicitly addressed and allowed on a case-by-case basis by systems “serving telemetry, control and protection purposes” provided that economic or technical justification is presented.

5-6
As the Department continues to encourage other diversity techniques that are more spectrally efficient, comments are being sought on the continued use of frequency diversity by utilities in this band.

5.4 8275-8500 MHz

This band is allocated to the FS, with portions shared on a primary basis with Earth exploration-satellite service (space-to-Earth), Space Research (space-to-Earth), and the FSS limited to the Government of Canada. It is used by the FS primarily for one-way video distribution in support of cable television undertakings, as well as to provide video program feeds to broadcast stations. It may also be used on a case-by-case basis for wideband radar.

FS use in the adjacent 7725-8275 MHz band is available for point-to-point low-, medium- and high- capacity systems. As such, this band may be appropriate for backhaul applications; however, the introduction of fixed two-way services may impact the flexibility of broadcasters and DND’s ability to quickly deploy FSS terminals on short notice.

5-7
The Department is seeking comments on deploying fixed two-way backhaul systems within the band 8275-8500 MHz. Please address any technical issues, the feasibility of sharing and any coordination considerations with the incumbent services, including Earth exploration-satellite service (space-to-Earth), space research service (space-to-Earth) FSS (Earth-to-space), and one-way fixed services.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to the use of this spectrum.

5.5 13 GHz Band (12.7-13.25 GHz)

The 13 GHz band is shared on a co-primary basis between the FS and the FSS (Earth-to-space). The use of the FSS is in accordance with the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Appendix 30B — Provisions and associated plan for the fixed-satellite service in the frequency bands 4500-4800 MHz, 6725-7025 MHz, 10.70-10.95 GHz, 11.20-11.45 GHz and 12.75-13.25 GHz, with Canada currently having access to four geostationary orbital positions using the band 12.75-13.25 GHz. Three orbit positions are assigned for feeder links and telemetry, tracking and telecommand (TT&C), in support of Canadian mobile satellites. Such feeder link and TT&C operations usually involve gateway earth stations. There are only a few such gateway earth stations located in Canada and this number is not expected to increase significantly. The remaining orbital position is available for assignment to Canadian satellite operators.

The 12.7-13.2 GHz portion is utilized by a variety of FS system applications, including Very High Capacity Microwave (VHCM)Footnote 32 point-to-multipoint, TV STLs, with TV pickup also sharing a portion of the band (13.15-13.25 GHz) on a case-by-case basis in certain geographic areas (see Figure 4). The majority of these fixed microwave systems carry several analog television signals on consecutive radio channels spaced 6 MHz apart. VHCM systems also provide cable TV feeds to distribution points within large cable television systems. Typically, VHCM systems use the entire band to deliver a cable program package from a main cable head-end to cable distribution points in adjacent towns and communities. These systems are authorized on a site-by-site and frequency-by-frequency basis, and while deployments may be considered as high-density (more than 2,000 frequency assignments), they are generally localized in specific geographical areas (approximately 60 sites). However, with the wide deployment of fibre and coaxial cable television networks in recent years, several links in many VHCM systems have been decommissioned.

TV pickup operations, including Electronic News Gathering (ENG), are generally licensed on a geographical basis over a defined area, within the 13.20-13.25 GHz portion of the band. In addition, they may be licensed on a case-by-case basis in certain geographical areas within the 13.15-13.20 GHz portion provided that such use does not cause harmful interference to VHCM systems or claim protection from interference from VHCM. For the purposes of news and special event coverage, these systems traditionally require fast deployment and their use is generally coordinated on a domestic inter-user, event basis. These links are usually deployed in metropolitan areas; however, they may also be located in other areas.

Figure 4: Current 13 GHz Band Plan

Current 13 GHz Band Plan (the long description is located 

below the image)
Description of Figure 4

This diagram represents the 13 GHz band plan as defined in SRSP-312.7, Issue 1. Overlaid on the band plan are the associated applications and services within each particular frequency range.

The 12.7 to 13.15 GHz portion of the band is available for VHCM and TV STL applications. The 13.15 to 13.2 GHz portion of the band is available for VHCM and TV STL, and TV pickup operations, with the notation that TV pickup use is on a case-by-case basis in certain geographic areas. The 13.2 to 13.25 GHz portion of the band is available for TV pickup operations. The entire 12.7 to 13.25 GHz is shared on a primary basis with the Fixed-Satellite (Earth- to-space) Service.

To address microwave spectrum availability for wireless backhaul, countries are exploring opportunities whereby spectrum can be shared between applications. In the United States, the 12.7-13.2 GHz frequency range was identified for additional backhaul spectrum. Similar to the band 6875-7125 MHz, the 13 GHz band is currently used by both the TV BAS and the CARS in that country. The FCC 11-120 Report and Order announced that FS operators would be permitted to share the 12.7-13.15 GHz band with fixed and mobile BAS and CARS in areas where TV pickup operations are not licensed, and that the upper 50 MHz (13.15-13.2 GHz) portion would be reserved for TV pickup operations.

Industry Canada recognizes that the use of microwave radio facilities for the carriage of broadcasting programming signals to cable system head-ends and to other broadcasting distribution undertakings has changed with alternate delivery methods (satellite, fibre optic systems and coaxial cable television networks). Currently, there are roughly 70 licences comprising more than 2,000 licensed frequency assignments held by approximately 25 licensed users. The Department also appreciates the integral part that VHCM still plays within some cable distribution networks.

Given the interest and spectrum demand to deploy medium-haul systems, as well as the limited requests for additional VHCM systems, the Department proposes to introduce fixed two-way low-, medium- and high-capacity (LC, MC and HC) point-to-point backhaul services in the band 12.7-13.2 GHz on a coordinated basis with the FSS and the FS (point-to-multipoint VHCM and TV pickup). For details, see Figure 5.

Figure 5: Proposal for 13 GHz Band

Current 13 GHz Band Plan (the long description is located 

below the image)
Description of Figure 5

This diagram represents the proposed 13 GHz band plan with the associated applications and services overlaid within each particular frequency range. The only modification to Figure 4 is the proposed introduction of two-way fixed service into the 12.7 to 13.15 GHz portion, as well as in the 13.15 to 13.20 GHz portion. The two-way fixed service in the 13.15 to 13.20 GHz would be on a shared urban/rural basis.

The 12.7 to 13.15 GHz portion of the band has VHCM, TV STL and two-way fixed services. The 13.15 to 13.2 GHz portion of the band has VHCM, TV STL, and TV pickup operations, with the notation that TV pickup use is on a case-by-case basis in certain geographic areas and two-way fixed services with the notation that it would be shared on an urban/rural basis. The 13.2 to 13.25 GHz portion of the band has TV pickup operations. In addition, the entire 12.7 to 13.25 GHz portion is shared on a primary basis with the Fixed- Satellite (Earth-to-space) Service.

In particular, the Department proposes that two-way fixed point-to-point systems would share the 13.15-13.2 GHz portion of the band with VHCM, TV-STL, and TV pickup operations on an urban/rural basis. In major metropolitan areas of greater Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, preference would be given to the existing VHCM, TV-STL and TV pickup systems. Elsewhere, the level of priority access given would be at the discretion of Industry Canada’s regional offices.

5-8
The Department is seeking comments on its proposal to introduce fixed two-way backhaul services within the 12.7-13.2 GHz range, including any technical issues (e.g. preferred channel plan, bandwidths and capacity requirements), sharing and coordination considerations, as well as any other relevant factors regarding the use of this band.
5-9
Given the limited requests for VHCM systems, the Department is seeking comments on the introduction of a moratorium on future licensing of new VHCM systems in the band.

5.6 17.8-18.3 GHz and 19.3-19.7 GHz

These bands are allocated on a co-primary basis for both the FS and the FSS (space-to-Earth) (Earth-to-space); however, the use of the spectrum by the FSS is limited to applications that pose minimal constraints on deployment of the FS, with the FS having priority over FSS (space-to-Earth).Footnote 33 In addition, the band 18.0-18.3 GHz in Region 2 is allocated to the meteorological- satellite service (space-to-Earth) on a primary basis. For details of the band, see Figure 6.

Figure 6: 17.8-18.3 GHz and 19.3-19.7 GHz Band Plan

17.8-18.3 GHz and 19.3-19.7 GHz Band Plan (the long 

description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 6

This diagram represents the 18 GHz band plan as defined in SRSP 317.8, overlaid with the associated transmitter and receiver spacings. The band plan is divided into three portions. The first portion from 17.8 to 18.14 GHz is paired with 19.36 to 19.7 GHz and is used by the fixed service for paired channels with transmitter and receiver spacings of 1560 MHz. The second portion from 18.14 to 18.2 GHz is paired with 19.3 to 19.36 GHz and is used by the fixed service for paired channels with transmitter and receiver spacings of 1160 MHz. The third portion from 18.2 to 18.3 GHz is used by the fixed service but with unpaired channels. In addition, the portion of the band from 17.8 to 18.3 GHz and from 19.3 to 19.7 GHz is shared with the Fixed-Satellite (Earth-to-space) Service, and from 18.0 to 18.3 GHz with the Meteorological-Satellite Service (space-to-Earth).

Currently, there are 5,600 FS licensed frequency assignmentsFootnote 34 for low-, medium- and high-capacity fixed links licensed in the paired bands 17.8-18.14 GHz and 19.36-19.7 GHz; very few licensed frequencies (10 assignments) in the paired bands 18.14-18.2 GHz and 19.3-19.36 GHz, and the unpaired band 18.2-18.3 GHz.

United States

As part of the United States’ ongoing backhaul reform, the FCC reviewed its antenna standards in the 18 GHz band (17.7-18.82 GHz and 18.92-19.7 GHz), and is now permitting the use of smaller antennas, per FCC 12-87.Footnote 35 Although smaller antennas may be deployed, their performance must be upgraded should they cause interference or prevent the entry of new systems.

5-10
The Department is seeking comments regarding the low usage of the 18.14-18.3 GHz and 19.3-19.36 GHz portions of the band. Please address any technical characteristics or regulatory provisions limiting deployment, and provide proposals on specific policy or allocation revisions to improve usage within the band.

5.7 31.8-33.4 GHz

This frequency range has primary allocations for fixed and radionavigation services. Specific portions are also allocated to space research (space-to-Earth, deep space) and inter-satellite services. As a result of decisions adopted by the ITU at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2000, the CTFA was updated to include high- density fixed service (HDFS) applications with specific footnotes regarding interaction with the other services.Footnote 36 In Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 3-30 GHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation (DGTP-008-04), it was noted that the band 31.8-33.4 GHz is well suited for HDFS applications (point-to-point and point-to- multipoint configurations), as it is allocated internationally and in all three ITU Regions (apart from the United States) for the FS without an allocation to the FSS. In the DGTP-008-04 consultation paper, the Department indicated that it would make the band 31.8- 33.4 GHz available for HDFS by way of future consultation.

Europe

The European common allocationFootnote 37 of this band is for fixed and radionavigation services shared with space research (space-to-Earth, deep space) in 31.8-32.3 GHz and with inter-satellite in 32.3-33.4 GHz. It is used for HDFS applications in either the point-to-point or point-to-multipoint configurations. Frequency assignments for fixed systems use various channel bandwidths of 3.5 MHz, 7 MHz, 14 MHz, 28 MHz, 56 MHz and 112 MHz.

Figure 7: European Radiocommunication Committee Recommendation ERC(01)02, Preferred Channel Arrangement for FS Systems Operating in the Frequency Band 31.8-33.4 GHz

European Radiocommunication Committee Recommendation ERC

(01)02, Preferred Channel Arrangement for FS Systems Operating in the Frequency Band 31.8 33.4 GHz (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 7

This diagram represents the European recommended channel arrangement for the 31.8-33.4 GHz band. The band is divided into two plans depending on the bandwidth of the channels, each with guardbands and a centre gap. For 112 MHz and 56 MHz channels, the band is as follows: a 71 MHz guardband from 31.8 to 31.871 GHz, six channels of 112 MHz bandwidth or 12 channels of 56 MHz bandwidth from 31.871 to 32.543 GHz, a 140 MHz centre gap from 32.543 to 32.683 GHz, six channels of 112 MHz bandwidth or 12 channels of 56 MHz bandwidth, from 32.683 to 33.355 GHz and a 45 MHz guardband from 33.355 GHz to 33.4 GHz. For 28 MHz, 14 MHz, 7 MHz and 3.5 MHz channels, the band is as follows: a 15 MHz guardband from 31.8 to 31.815 GHz, 27 channels of 28 MHz bandwidth, 54 channels of 14 MHz bandwidth, 108 channels of 7 MHz bandwidth and 216 channels of 3.5 MHz bandwidth from 31.815 to 32.571 GHz, a 56 MHz centre gap from 32.571 to 32.627 GHz, 27 channels of 28 MHz bandwidth, 54 channels of 14 MHz bandwidth, 108 channels of 7 MHz bandwidth and 216 channels of 3.5 MHz bandwidth from 32.627 to 33.383 GHz and a 17 MHz guardband from 33.383 GHz to 33.4 GHz.

In the United Kingdom, Ofcom initially opened a portion of the band for point-to-point applications in 2003. However, with very little interest expressed and no active assignments, Ofcom decided to auction the entire band. All six national block licences were awarded in 2008.Footnote 38

United States

In the United States, the band 31.8-33.4 GHz is not allocated for FS use. The band 31.8-32 GHz is allocated to the radionavigation and space research (space-to-Earth, deep space) services; and the band 32-32.3 GHz is allocated to the radionavigation and space research (space-to-Earth, deep space) services, all on a primary basis. The band 32.3-33 GHz is allocated to the inter-satellite and radionavigation services; and the band 33-33.4 GHz is allocated to the radionavigation service, all on a primary basis.

5-11
The Department is seeking comments on making the band 31.8-33.4 GHz available for backhaul and is seeking views on equipment availability, considering that the band is not allocated for FS in United States.
5-12
In addition to backhaul, comments are being sought on other potential FS applications.
5-13
The Department is seeking comments on channelling plans, policy implications, sharing measures and coordination considerations or constraints, architecture (point-to-point, point-to-multipoint or a combination thereof) and anticipated time frames in which this spectrum would be required.

5.8 38 GHz Band (38.4-40.0 GHz)

The 38 GHz band is allocated on a primary basis to multiple services, including the FS, the FSS (space-to-Earth), mobile, and mobile-satellite (space-to-Earth), as well as to the Earth exploration-satellite service (space-to-Earth) on a secondary basis. The mobile-satellite allocation, which is limited to the use by the Government of Canada, is only within the 39.5-40 GHz portion.

Furthermore, in Canada, the band 38.4-40 GHz is licensed for HDFS applications operating on an area basis.Footnote 39 The band is divided into 14 paired frequency blocks and four unpaired frequency blocks, each with a bandwidth of 50 MHz, as per Table 4 below. In 1999, Industry Canada auctioned eight frequency pairs (800 MHz) in 38.7- 39.1 GHz and 39.4-39.8 GHz for fixed point-to-point and point-to- multipoint systems. The remaining frequency blocks are authorized on a shared basis within a given geographical area, for the operation of one-way point-to-multipoint and one-way and two-way point-to-point systems.

Table 4: 38 GHz Fixed Band Plan and Associated Usage
BlockLower Frequency Block (GHz)Upper Frequency Block (GHz)Usage
A / A'38.60-38.6539.30-39.35point-to-point
B / B'38.65-38.7039.35-39.40point-to-point
C / C'38.70-38.7539.40-39.45point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
D / D'38.75-38.8039.45-39.50point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
E / E'38.80-38.8539.50-39.55point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
F / F'38.85-38.9039.55-39.60point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
G / G'38.90-38.9539.60-39.65point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
H / H'38.95-39.0039.65-39.70point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
I / I'39.00-39.0539.70-39.75point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
J / J'39.05-39.1039.75-39.80point-to-point and point-to- multipointa
K / K'39.10-39.1539.80-39.85point-to-point
L / L'39.15-39.2039.85-39.90point-to-point
M / M'39.20-39.2539.90-39.95point-to-point
N / N'39.25-39.3039.95-40.00point-to-point
  1. Auctioned spectrum. In 2009, the Department granted a five-year extension to the licence term for the auctioned 24 GHz and 38 GHz spectrum. (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf09302.html). Licence renewals will be subject to a future consultation.
Unpaired Blocks: One-way only
BlockFrequency Block (GHz)Usage
A38.40-38.45point-to-point and point-to-multipoint
B 38.45-38.50point-to-point and point-to-multipoint
C38.50-38.55point-to-point and point-to-multipoint
D38.55-38.60point-to-point and point-to-multipoint

The 38 GHz band is popular with service providers in urban core areas, as spectrum blocks are available on a self-managed basis, permitting rapid deployment of multiple links. However, the Department notes that there has been very little usage by FS systems within the 38.4-38.6 GHz portion. This could be attributed to the current designation of this portion of the band as one-way only. As such, Industry Canada proposes to make these 200 MHz available for both one-way and two-way point-to-point and point-to-multipoint systems, noting that all deployments must adhere to co-primary sharing rules.

5-14
The Department is seeking comments on the lack of usage to date within the 38.4-38.6 GHz portion of the band. Are there technical characteristics or regulatory provisions limiting deployment within this portion of the band?
5-15
The Department is also seeking comments on its proposal to allow fixed two-way systems within the 38.4-38.6 GHz range. Please include any technical issues, sharing and coordination considerations with other services, preference regarding duplexing methods, and other relevant factors.
5-16
Comments are being sought as well on alternate uses of this portion of the band. Please include any technical issues, sharing and coordination considerations with any other services, and other relevant factors.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to the use of this spectrum.

5.9 40.5-43.5 GHz

In Canada, the band 40.5-42.5 GHz is currently allocated to broadcasting, broadcasting-satellite, the FS and the FSS on a primary basis and to mobile and mobile-satellite on a secondary basis, whereas the 42.5-43.5 GHz range is allocated to the FS, the FSS (Earth-to-space), mobile (except aeronautical mobile) and radio astronomy on a primary basis. In particular, the entire 40.5-43.5 GHz range is available for HDFS applications (Resolution 75, WRC-2000), whereas the 40.5-42 GHz segment is also identified for HDFSS applications (space-to-Earth), but this does not preclude other services that are allocated on a co-primary basis within the band.

Generally speaking, in Europe, the 40.5-43.5 GHz portion of the band is allocated for HDFS, with priority over uncoordinated FSS terminals within 40.5-42.5 GHz. In the United Kingdom, however, Ofcom has assigned by auction six blocksFootnote 40 (250 + 250 MHz) of nationwide spectrum in the 40.5-43.5 GHz band.

In the United States, the FS and the FSS are co-primary within the entire 37.5-42.5 GHz band, yet through a soft segmentation approach in the band, power flux density (PFD) limits encourage the use of 37.5-40.0 GHz and 42.0-42.5 GHz by the FS and 40.0-42.0 GHz by the FSS. In November 2010, the United States released a proposal to increase sharing between terrestrial and satellite services in the band 37.5-42.5 GHz (FCC 10-186). Specifically, the FCC proposed to delete the Broadcasting-Satellite Service (BSS) allocation from 42.0-42.5 GHz and add a primary allocation for FSS (space-to-Earth).Footnote 41 Industry Canada is exploring whether there is interest in FS deployments within the band 40.5-43.5 GHz, noting that all deployments must adhere to co-primary sharing rules.

5-17
The Department is seeking comments on whether deploying fixed systems in the band 40.5-43.5 GHz should be permitted. Factors such as potential applications, anticipated time frames, sharing constraints, mitigation measures and/or coordination considerations with other services, including radio astronomy and future HDFSS applications, are of particular interest. As well, comments are being sought on whether this band should be made available for point-to-point, point-to-multipoint systems or a combination thereof.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to the use of this spectrum.

5.10 Additional Backhaul Spectrum

As part of Industry Canada’s mandate to effectively manage spectrum, the Department has recently made available several frequency bands, previously designated for use by the FS (e.g. 25 GHz, 27 GHz, 70 GHz and 80 GHz), for fixed systems in support of fixed and mobile broadband access. However, backhaul capacity requirements continue to increase as networks experience a growing demand for high bandwidth applications, stemming from the use of mobile devices carrying video and Internet traffic, the current and future rollout of HSPA and LTE.

As detailed in Red Mobile’s spectrum demand study,Footnote 42 although licensees are offloading traffic to fibre systems, the volume of traffic carried over microwave backhaul continues to increase. The study indicated that spectrum demand was “expected to grow from approximately 900 MHz in 2010 to between 2600 and 3400 MHz” by 2015. Although the FS has more than 13 GHz of primary allocated spectrum, certain frequency bands (i.e. 11, 15, 18 and 23 GHz) in urban centres may already be experiencing some congestion and may see greater growth and demand than other bands over the 2011-2015 study period.

In the context of the above-mentioned study and given the spectrum recently made available for additional backhaul purposes, the Department is interested in determining if, apart from those frequency bands already being explored within this consultation, there is a need to further examine additional opportunities in other frequency bands to accommodate backhaul systems. This information will be useful in further forecasting requirements regarding demand for spectrum within short-, medium-, and long-haul frequency bands.

5-18
The Department is seeking comments on whether additional spectrum is needed for backhaul purposes. Proposals should identify the particular frequency band(s) and address technical requirements, policy and licensing implications, as well as sharing and coordination considerations. Proposals should also state whether equipment is currently available and provide as much information as possible on the use of such spectrum in other countries.

The comments received may be used in the development of a separate consultation on specific frequency bands, as appropriate.


6. Promoting Efficient Frequency Use

Demand for capacity has increased and radiocommunication service providers are seeking to deploy wireless systems that can accommodate their expanding networks and increased traffic. As a result of the limited supply of spectrum and increasing congestion in certain frequency bands and geographical areas, there is an increasing need for efficient spectrum usage.

The following sections examine opportunities to promote spectrum efficiency across all fixed backhaul frequency bands.

6.1 Considerations

6.1.1 Spectral Efficiency

For the majority of microwave backhaul bands, the Department requires that applicants cooperate and coordinate with other licence holders to permit the reasonable and orderly sharing of spectrum. To ensure the efficient use of spectrum and maximize carriage capacity, spectrum policies and associated SRSPs specify minimum spectral efficiencies and permissible system capacities. The transmission capacity of fixed spectrum is determined by, among other factors, the efficiency of use of the spectrum, measured in bits/second/hertz (b/s/Hz). Although the capacity of a system may be dictated by these technical requirements, other mechanisms can be used to influence efficiency. One such mechanism is to charge licence fees for spectrum that corresponds to spectrum consumption and is reflective of market value; providing economic incentives to achieve efficiencies.

6-1
The Department is seeking comments and proposals on mechanisms to encourage greater spectral efficiencies. Recommendations pertaining to a specific frequency band should identify the band and the proposed minimum spectral efficiency. Recommendations should also address any technical issues or implications and the treatment of existing deployments.

SRSPs specify the capacity of systems that can be deployed in a given frequency band. The definitions of system capacities continue to evolve to reflect changes in transmission technology and microwave system requirements. Table 5 (below) provides the current definitions of system capacities as defined in SP 1-20 GHz.

Table 5: Definitions of System Capacities
RF Channel Capacitya,bTraffic Load (Mbit/s)c
Low-capacity (LC) ≥ 1.544 ≤ 24.704
Medium-capacity (MC) > 24.704 ≤ 51.840
High-capacity (HC) > 51.840 
  1. Smaller system capacities are also permitted in LC bands on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Capacities of less than 1.544 Mbit/s are not permitted in channels identified for MC or HC unless specifically identified in the spectrum policy for the band.
  3. System capacities do not include radio system overhead bits.

Through advances in RF equipment, systems are now generally able to achieve higher capacities within narrower channel bandwidths. This directly results in more efficient use of the radio spectrum. Although the use of high-capacity (HC) systems seems to be a natural evolution of demand, low- (LC) and medium- (MC) capacity point-to-point systems have played an important role in the early stages of network development and in extending deployment of into rural areas. Traditionally, LC and MC systems have been used in the lower frequency spectrum range, where good propagation conditions allow for reliable links over longer distances. In order to balance spectrum use, limits are currently placed on available channel bandwidths and capacities in particular bands to ensure an overall ability to accommodate all types of systems (LC, MC and HC). This fosters the entry of new LC and MC systems with dedicated spectrum where higher capacity systems (generally larger bandwidths) might otherwise limit their deployment and prevent potential network expansion into rural or remote areas that might not initially require high traffic capacity.

The Department is seeking comments regarding the current capacity definitions (see Table 5) and restrictions on system traffic loads:

6-2
Do the current capacity definitions accurately reflect today’s requirements?
6-3
Is there still a specific requirement for LC- and/or MC-only bands, or should the current restrictions on the use of higher capacity systems in such bands be reconsidered? Please address specific bands, implications on usage and deployment.

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to capacity.

Independently of the above general review, the Department has been petitioned by the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) to relax the capacity restrictions for the 10 GHz band (10.55-10.68 GHz). This band is currently only available for LC point-to-point radio systems with channel bandwidths of 1.25 MHz, 2.5 MHz and 5 MHz, as well as for multipoint communications systems (MCS).Footnote 43 Equipment is currently available to accommodate MC systems within the specified bandwidths.

6-4
Assuming that capacity restrictions are retained, the Department is seeking comments on the RABC’s request to allow MC systems specifically within the 10 GHz band, including any implications that this may have on future usage and deployment.

6.1.2 Antenna Standards

Point-to-point microwave systems use highly directional antennas. System designers focus on antenna qualities such as gain, half-power beam width, front-to-back ratio, off-axis discrimination and size when planning their networks. The Department defines antenna characteristics, rather than specifying the size of an antenna, as a means of ensuring that radio systems are designed so that they do not cause harmful interference to existing licensed systems. These characteristics include radiation pattern envelopes (e.g. possible enhanced technical standards for moderately and highly congested areas) and minimum front-to-back ratios.

Smaller antennas are usually preferred by licensees because of cost, ease of installation, minimum impact of wind and tower loading and the ability to gain access to existing infrastructure (e.g. rooftops and water towers). However, smaller antennas can result in greater off-axis emissions that create an increase in the potential for interference, thereby preventing entry of new systems into the area and increasing congestion.

To reduce backhaul costs and promote the growth of broadband, the United States, through FCC 10-146, has solicited comments on its antenna standards, specifically on the use of smaller antennas, with a goal of increasing deployment without amplifying the interference environment. Through the Second Report and Order Notice FCC 12-87,Footnote 44 the FCC is now allowing the use of smaller antennas in the following bands: 6 GHz (5925-6875 MHz), 18 GHz (17700-18820 MHz and 18920-19700 MHz) and 23 GHz (21200-23600 MHz). The FCC noted that operators would still be required to upgrade to antennas with reduced off-axis emissions should interference issues arise that could have been resolved with a larger antenna.

The Department is seeking comments on defining minimum antenna characteristics:

6-5
Please provide proposals on specific frequency bands for which the Department may wish to review the minimum antenna characteristics. The proposals must include specifics for new standards, including maximum beam width, minimum gain and maximum off-axis emissions or radiation pattern envelope. Address any implications to existing licensees and the radio environment, future deployments, spectrum sharing and congestion.
6-6
Are there specific technical considerations or requirements that the Department should consider in order to mitigate any potential of increased interference or congestion if minimum antenna characteristics are relaxed or conversely, implications should these characteristics be made stricter?

Interested parties are invited to provide any other comments that may be relevant to antenna characteristics and standards.

6.1.3 Equipment

Another aspect is the flexibility of current microwave radio equipment to provide scalable transmission capacities. It has become increasingly easy through software upgrades to expand a system’s capacity as the network grows, upgrading from LC to MC to HC traffic in an orderly progression. In terms of the reuse of existing infrastructure, there are obvious advantages to being able to grow within the same spectrum range. However, with the continual growth in traffic demands, the pressure on microwave backhaul will continue to increase.

Manufacturers have introduced a variety of technologies and mechanisms in an effort to cope with growing capacities as microwave backhaul traffic requirements continue to rise. In certain areas, demands are approaching or exceeding 1 Gbps. Currently available equipment addresses some of these needs through adaptive modulation, which adapts to conditions on the radio link; co-channel dual polarization (CCDP), which essentially doubles the capacity of wireless systems over the same channel; and channel bonding, which increases bandwidth capabilities through the aggregation of channels, allowing for greater capacities.

6-7
The Department is seeking general information on new equipment advances or technologies that can ease the growing capacity issues on backhaul systems.

Should any of your comments be considered proprietary, they must be submitted separately and clearly marked as “Confidential.”

Industry Canada classifies radio systems as “standard” if they conform to the most recent issue of the Spectrum Utilization Policy (SP) or Radio Systems Policy (RP), whichever is applicable, and to the corresponding SRSP. A radio system is classified as “non-standard” if it does not conform to the current SP/RP or the SRSP for the frequency band in question, or if it is authorized while an SRSP is under preparation.

Non-standard systems may continue to operate uninterrupted as long as they do not block the entry of a standard system. However, non-standard radio systems are subject to modification or replacement if their non-standard aspects prevent the establishment of a new system or the expansion of an existing system that is standard. In areas of high spectrum demand, the necessity for the modification, replacement or removal of “non-standard” systems will be greater than in areas of low demand (e.g. some remote areas).

6-8
The Department is seeking comments on whether the use of the following techniques should be considered as standard. Please address any resulting technical, policy or spectrum management issues, any sharing or coordination considerations, as well as any implications on congestion, frequency reuse or the radio environment as a whole.
  1. Radio systems that employ adaptive modulation, noting that during adverse propagation conditions, the systems’ spectral efficiencies may fall below the specified minimums.
  2. Radio links that use CCDP to effectively increase the capacity over the same channel.
  3. Systems that make use of channel bonding to effectively increase the available bandwidth.
  4. Other planned or available types of radio equipment technology to ease capacity issues.
6-9
Is there a need for additional flexibility or modernization of policies and/or standards to allow for evolution and advances in equipment? Please provide specific proposals addressing any technical implications, sharing and coordination considerations, as well as any impact on the interference environment and congestion levels.

Should any of your comments be considered proprietary, they must be submitted separately and clearly marked as “Confidential.”

Over the past several years, as equipment and radio systems evolved towards digital, licensees have been converting their analog systems to digital. The Department has encouraged this transition as it is more spectrally efficient; however, some policies and SRSPs still make reference to analog systems and analog modulation.

6-10
The Department is seeking comments on the level of use of analog systems, including the number of operational systems, age of equipment, life expectancy, specific frequency band and geographical area.
6-11
To reflect current deployment trends, the Department is seeking comments on whether to remove specific references to analog systems or retain them to address specific requirements. Please address potential technical or policy implications and submit any suggested amendments.

6.2 Departmental Publications

Radio system plans and policies are often required in order for Industry Canada to ensure the orderly development of radiocommunication services and to foster the effective implementation of existing and emerging technologies and services.

6-12
The Department is seeking comments on the need for additional flexibility or other updates to policies and/or standards to promote flexible and efficient use of wireless backhaul services. Please provide specific situations and criteria under which greater flexibility of spectrum use may be afforded, addressing any technical implications, sharing and coordination considerations, as well as any impact on the interference environment and congestion levels.

SRSPs define the technical requirements for radio systems operating in frequency bands, as well as their channelling plans. Channelling plans ensure the orderly and efficient implementation of these radio systems. Depending on the nature of the service and applications, specific SRSPs may use a two- frequency channelling plan or a single frequency plan. Traditional microwave point-to-point backhaul systems, apart from those transporting broadcast programming, use full duplex frequency division duplex (FDD) links that use separate frequencies for their go and return paths. Backhaul networks and routes should be planned and designed so that a single frequency pair can be reused. This makes efficient reuse of the spectrum. However, depending on the path length, a variety of frequency bands may be required across a large network. For certain applications and links, such as STLs, a single frequency is used, as communications are in a single direction only. Given that some of the frequency bands being considered for possible two-way backhaul usage are currently designated for one-way transmissions, the reverse may also be desirable.

6-13
The Department is seeking general comments on the need to introduce one-way transmissions in certain bands where the use of a two-frequency plan is currently a regulatory obligation. Please specify the frequency band and address any technical, sharing and coordination issues.

7. Non-Radio Alternatives

There are multiple technical solutions to address the need for backhaul, and usually a combination of solutions is employed throughout a network. In Canada, service providers generally deploy a mix of fibre and wireless microwave, depending on the service area. As a principle, the Department encourages applicants for radio systems to pursue, to the extent possible, the use of non-radio alternatives, such as fibre and cable, where these can be economically and realistically employed from a technological point of view.

As backhaul traffic requirements continue to increase, they begin to challenge the current limitations of traditional microwave technology and potentially the available spectrum. With studies indicating that network data traffic is expected to continue to grow, the Department is seeking comments on the use of non-radio alternatives, especially in spectrum congested urban areas, where system path lengths are relatively short and these alternatives can be employed.

The Department is seeking comments on the role of spectrum alternatives in managing capacity.

7-1
Provide general information on your use of non-radio alternatives to resolve backhaul challenges. What is the combination (and percentage of wireless and other backhaul solutions) used within your network? Has this ratio changed within the last few years, and do you expect it to change within the next three to five years?

Interested parties are invited to provide other comments relevant to non-radio alternatives. Should any of your comments be considered proprietary, they must be submitted separately and clearly marked as “Confidential.”


8. Conclusion and Next Steps

The results of this consultation will provide Industry Canada with valuable information concerning the backhaul market in general, as well as specific details on existing and forecasted backhaul deployments and requirements, including likely developments over the next several years, congestion and technological advances, which will affect capacity. This information will allow the Department to revisit its policies and technical rules, with a view to accommodating these needs through the possible provisioning of additional backhaul spectrum or amendments to departmental publications. Decisions and supplementary consultations may be initiated on specific methods that the Department intends to explore further.

space to insert signature
MARC DUPUIS
Director General
Engineering, Planning and Standards Branch

Date modified: