TB-7 — Information on the Evaluation of VHF and UHF Terrestrial Cross-Border Frequency Coordination Requests

Issue 1, May 2013
Technical Bulletin

Posted on Industry Canada website: May 30, 2013


  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose
  3. Evaluation of Cross–Border Frequency Coordination Requests
  4. Initial EMC Analysis
  5. In–Depth Analysis of Potential Conflicts
  6. Further Considerations

1. Introduction

In the mobile allocations in the bands UHF (406.1–430 MHz and 450–470 MHz) and VHF (138–144 MHz and 148–174 MHz), frequencies are coordinated on a first–come, first–served basis. Industry Canada receives a large number of coordination requests from the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration every year. Each request is assessed based on technical criteria and on the potential of interference to existing coordinated Canadian stations within the border area.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this bulletin is to describe the Industry Canada evaluation process of VHF and UHF terrestrial cross–border frequency coordination requests.

3. Evaluation of Cross–Border Frequency Coordination Requests

The evaluation of cross–border frequency coordination requests is a two–step process. The initial Land Mobile Electromagnetic Compatibility (LM EMC) analysis is performed using Industry Canada's LM EMC computer program, which determines whether there are potential conflicts based on the worst–case scenario (i.e. large culling distances, and use of the free space path loss model).

Table 1 below shows the VHF and UHF frequency analysis default culling limits used by the LM EMC program to identify potential conflicts.

Table 1 — VHF and UHF frequency analysis culling limits
Distance (km) Frequency Separation (kHz)
240 ±35

This first step, the initial EMC analysis, provides a broad view of the Canadian radio environment that may be impacted by the proposed U.S. station. The large culling limit ensures inclusion of any circumstances where there may be conflicts beyond typical co–channel sharing distances. Such examples may include large areas of operations for either or both U.S. and Canadian stations (noting that the distance is taken between centres of operations) and mountain top line–of–sight conditions. Each EMC is manually reviewed. Many of the potential conflicts listed that have large separation distances can be quickly disregarded based on the technical and operational characteristics of the stations under study.

If no potential conflicts remain once this first review has been completed, then the coordination request will be approved. No further analysis will be required since this initial analysis is based on large culling distances and on the free–space path loss model, which is a worst–case propagation scenario.

However, if conflicts are found, the second step of the process will be undertaken. This step involves an in–depth analysis of each of these potential conflicts that uses more refined parameters to determine whether the attenuation of the signal reaching the victim receivers is greater than the one assumed in the initial analysis, and to determine whether this attenuation is enough for the two systems to co–exist.

Section 4 of this document describes the parameters used in the initial LM EMC analysis, while Section 5 provides details regarding the parameters used in the in–depth analysis of the various conflicts.

4. Initial EMC analysis

The initial EMC analysis is performed based on calculating the received power of the interfering signal of the victim station receiver and comparing the received power to the minimum received signal power and the required desired–to–undesired signal ratio. The interfering signal strength is calculated using the following equation:

PIN = ERP – PL – OCR + GR – LR


PIN = interfering signal strength at the receiver, in dBW
ERP = effective radiated power of the transmitter, in dBW
PL = free–space path loss, in dB
OCR = off–channel rejection, in dB
GR = receiver antenna gain, in dBd
LR = receiver total losses, in dB

The ERP consists of:

ERP = PT + GT – LT


PT = transmitted power, in dBW
GT = transmitter antenna gain, in dBd
LT = transmitter total losses, in dB

Path Loss (PL)

Free–space path loss is normally used to determine the level of signal attenuation between transmitting and receiving antennas of sufficient height (above 20 metres) that are in close proximity (within 5 km) where one expects clear line–of–sight. However, free–space path loss is used in the initial LM EMC analysis for all distances since this represents the minimum path loss possible and it is thus considered to be a very conservative analysis. Consequently, if no conflicts are found using the free–space path loss propagation formula, then it is unlikely that a conflict will arise if a detailed analysis is performed which takes into consideration additional factors further attenuating the signal.

Free–space path loss is based on the following equation:

PL = 28.2 + 20 Log F + 20 log D


F = frequency of the transmitter, in MHz
D = distance between the transmitter and the receiver stations, in km

Off–Channel Rejection (OCR)

While performing the initial LM EMC, the program takes into consideration the off–channel rejection (OCR) values. OCR value is an attenuation value used to compensate for the reduction of power at a frequency separation, ∆ƒ, between interfering transmitter and victim receiver frequencies, since not all of the power will fall into the receiver's filter.

OCR is also sometimes referred to as adjacent channel coupled power (ACCP) or as frequency dependent rejection (FDR).

For ∆ƒ ≤ 35 kHz, OCR is based on the following equation:

\[OCR (\Delta f)=10 log_{10} \left( \frac { \int\limits_{-\infty}^{\infty} P (f) df} { \int\limits_{-\infty}^{\infty} \bigg[ P(f) \times |H(f+\Delta f)|^{2} \bigg] df} \right) dB \]


P(ƒ) = power spectral density (PSD) of the transmitter in Watts/Hz
|H(ƒ)|2 = squared magnitude frequency response of the receiver
∆ƒ = frequency spacing between the victim receiver and the interfering transmitter

When a receiver (RX) and a transmitter (TX) are co–channel (i.e. ∆ƒ=0), the majority of the power from the transmitter is received by the victim receiver, assuming both have the same bandwidths, as shown in Figure 1. In such instances, the OCR is zero.

Figure 1: ACCP co-channel example
ACCP co-channel example [Figure 1 Description]

OCR is only taken into account when there is a frequency separation between the transmitter and the receiver. In such cases, not all of the power of the transmitter is received by the receiver due to the properties of transmitted emissions and the filter frequency response of the receiver, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: ACCP off-channel example
ACCP off-channel example [Figure 2 Description]

ACCP becomes the main interference mechanism when the interfering carrier power spread by the modulation starts to enter the victim receiver's pass–band.

The OCR values used by the LM EMC program are based on a set of curves and only reflect the dominant interference source present at specific frequency separations. Within frequency separations of 35 kHz, the dominant interference can be attributed to the adjacent channel coupled power. There are different curves, depending on the nature of both the transmitted signal and the expected signal at the receiver, such as:

  1. analog vs. digital signal; and
  2. 30 kHz, 25 kHz, 15 kHz, 12.5 kHz, 7.5 kHz and 6.25 kHz channel bandwidths.

The OCR curves were derived from actual physical measurements performed by Industry Canada and generally align with the values provided in the Telecommunications Systems Bulletin TSB–88–B,Footnote 1 Wireless Communications Systems — Performance in Noise and Interference — Limited Situations — Recommended Methods for Technology — Independent Modeling, Simulation, and Verification. The OCR curves are valid for signals with necessary bandwidths equal to or less than 16 kHz.Footnote 2

Interference Threshold (PThres)

The interfering signal strength at the receiver (PIN), which is calculated using the equation noted above, is then compared to the interference threshold (PThres). The interference threshold is the maximum interference power that can reach the receiver without causing harmful interference. The interference threshold, which is a combination of the environmental noise and the desired–to–undesired (D/U) signal ratio from a single interfering source, can be expressed as follows:

PThres = Pmin – D/U


PThres = interference threshold, in dBW
Pmin = minimum desired signal, in dBW (based on environmental noise)
D/U = desired to undesired signal ratio, in dB

Environmental Noise

Depending on the location of the receiver and its noise environment, the minimum desired signal (Pmin), or the receiver's working signal level, will be set to the level shown in Table 2.

Table 2 — Minimum desired signal level based on the location of the receiver
Band (MHz) Rural Area (dBW) Suburban Area (dBW) Urban Area (dBW)
138 – 174 – 148 – 141 – 132
406 – 470 – 146 – 145 – 138

The minimum desired signal values shown in Table 2 are used in the initial EMC analysis when the path loss is calculated based on the free–space propagation model and when no other propagation losses are taken into account. Otherwise, when an in–depth analysis is performed, the assessment is based on the –146 dBW "maximum interfering signal," as indicated in Section 5.

Desired–to–Undesired Signal Ratio

The LM EMC program also uses the Desired/Undesired (D/U) signal ratios, shown below in Table 3.

Table 3 — D/U ratios used by the EMC program for both VHF and UHF
Signal Characteristics D/U Ratio (dB)
Analog Wideband 5
Analog Narrowband 7
Digital Narrowband 7

The D/U ratios for analog transmitters are based on the average D/U values recorded during OCR testing for various type of conflicts, while the D/U ratio for digital transmitters is based on the value found in TSB–88–B.


The initial LM EMC analysis will flag a potential conflict if the calculated interfering signal strength at the receiver (PIN) is greater than the interference threshold (PThres), i.e. if PIN > PThres. In such cases, an in–depth analysis may be required.

5. In–Depth Analysis of Potential Conflicts

Once the initial LM EMC analysis has identified one or several potential conflicts, an in–depth analysis of each potential conflict will be performed using more refined parameters. Industry Canada has developed a software tool in MapInfoFootnote 3 that enables the user to predict a more accurate path loss for VHF and UHF frequencies by taking into account additional factors. Its main component consists of a topographical database, which takes into account the terrain between two points.


Industry Canada uses the CRC–Predict propagation model to model path loss.Footnote 4 The basic path loss is established using the free–space propagation model. Then the loss incurred due to terrain variation is added in. In order to do so, CRC–Predict calculates both the diffraction loss and the tropospheric scatter loss between the two points. The greater of these two losses is then added to the free–space path loss. Then the K–factor (to take account of refraction), the time variability and the location variability are factored in.

CRC–Predict v3.2.1 is the version used by spectrum management officers.

Terrain Data

The Canadian Digital Elevation Data (CDED) topographical database is used to determine the ground elevation variations between the transmitter and the receiver, using the mean sea level as a reference. The data is compatible with the US Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED). Coordinates are based on the North American Datum 1983 (NAD83) horizontal reference datum.

Land cover, such as bare ground, forest, marsh, swamp, trees and water (as well as generalized urban clutter) is also included in the terrain profile, and is taken into account in the path loss calculations.

In Canada and up to 400 km away from the border on U.S. territory, the Industry Canada software uses a 100–meter grid resolution for the terrain data. In addition, within Canada, terrain data with a 30–meter grid resolution is available for latitudes up to 56–degrees. However, technology is always improving; as revised versions of the databases with greater resolution become available, it is expected that they will be incorporated in future versions of CRC–Predict.

Time and Location Variability and K–Factor

Time variability accounts for variations in atmospheric refraction and perturbations. For transmitter/receiver separation distances greater than 50 km, the time variability becomes important. For interference analysis, the time variability is set at 10%.

The K–factor, which is also dependent on the atmospheric conditions, is the ratio of the effective Earth radius to the actual Earth radius. The K–factor typically used in propagation is 4/3, and it is based on standard atmospheric refraction. The standard 4/3 K–factor is used in the CRC–Predict interference analysis.

Location variability takes into account the path loss variances of a moving mobile. Since most coordination requests study the propagation profile between two base stations at fixed locations, the median value of 50% is used in analyses.

Maximum Interfering Signal

A maximum allowable interfering received signal level of –146 dBW is used when analyzing potential conflicts with CRC–Predict. However, when the analysis performed by the Industry Canada program still indicates that there is a potential interference conflict, others factors — such as urban versus suburban area, public safety system versus paging system, etc.— might be considered.

Antenna and System Parameters

The Industry Canada program allows the user to enter the transmitter and the receiver antenna heights, gains and polarizations, as well as the transmit power and system losses, so that these parameters are taken into consideration when performing an interference analysis. In the program, antenna gains are based on isotropic sources; therefore, a conversion to dBi units might be required. It should be noted that the antenna gains shown in both Industry Canada's and the FCC's databases are in dBd for frequencies below 960 MHz, and in dBi for frequencies equal to or greater than 960 MHz. However, the antenna gains shown in the NTIA database are in dBi for all frequencies. Antenna gains expressed in dBd units are based on a dipole antenna. To convert the antenna gain from dBd to dBi units, add 2.15 dB to the dBd value.

Point–to–Point vs. Point–to–Area

The Industry Canada program enables the user to perform either a point–to–point or a point–to–area path loss analysis. When considering two fixed stations, the point–to–point analysis should be performed. However, for an analysis of the impact of a fixed station on a mobile one, the point–to–area analysis should be performed to evaluate the impact of the new fixed station on the whole area of operation of the mobile station.

Propagation Models

CRC–Predict is the reference propagation model used for interference analysis. However, spectrum management officers also have access to other models, such as Longley Rice and Okumura–Hata–Davidson. These propagation models are available through the Industry Canada program in MapInfo.

Industry Canada recognizes that the U.S. uses the Longley Rice propagation model, which is based on a rolling Earth. By contrast, CRC–Predict is based on a knife–edge diffraction propagation model. The difference between the two propagation models can explain the small variation between the results of interference analyses performed using Longley Rice versus using CRC–Predict.

6. Further Considerations

Industry Canada considers a number of factors when performing interference analyses to evaluate cross–border frequency coordination requests for terrestrial systems in the UHF and VHF frequency ranges. In addition to the factors discussed in this paper, Industry Canada will also take into account any other relevant factors provided by either the NTIA or the FCC that might impact an interference analysis. For example, the pattern of a highly directive antenna could be factored in, if provided.

Finally, Industry Canada is continually working to further enhance the tools used to perform interference analyses in order to improve the accuracy of these analyses.

space to insert signature
Marc Dupuis
Director General,
Engineering, Planning and Standards


Footnote 1

TSB–88 is a TIA standard. For information on TIA standards, see: http://www.tiaonline.org/standards/buy-tia-standards.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

In Canada, an analog signal with a necessary bandwidth of 16 kHz is used based on a 16F3E emission designation. This is equivalent to the 20 kHz authorized bandwidth used in the U.S. for an analog signal with a 20F3E emission. This U.S. signal with a 20 kHz authorized bandwidth would have a necessary bandwidth of about 16 kHz.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

MapInfo is a commercial software with Microsoft® Windows®–based mapping and geographic analysis applications. For details, see: http://www.pb.com/mapinfo/.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

For information on the CRC–Predict propagation model, see: Physical Optics and Field–Strength Predictions for Wireless Systems Paper.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

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