Consultation on a New Licensing Framework and Licence Renewal Process for the 24, 28 and 38 GHz Bands

Posted on Industry Canada website:


1. Intent

Through the release of this document, Industry Canada seeks to consult on the licensing process for fixed services in the 24 GHz, 28 GHz and 38 GHz bands. This consultation deals with a new site specific, first-come, first- served (FCFS) licensing process for these bands as well as a renewal process for fixed broadband wireless access licences that were assigned by auction and are soon to expire in the 24 GHz and 38 GHz bands.


2. Mandate

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 Telecommunications Act, is responsible for spectrum management in Canada. As such, the Minister is responsible for developing goals and national polices for spectrum resource use and for ensuring effective management of the radio frequency spectrum resource.


3. Legislation

The Minister of Industry is provided the general powers for spectrum management in Canada, pursuant to section 5 of the Radiocommunication Act and sections 4 and 5 of the Department of Industry Act. The Governor in Council may make regulations with respect to spectrum management, pursuant to section 6 of the Radiocommunication Act; these regulations have been prescribed under the Radiocommunication Regulations.


4. Policy Objectives

In developing a policy and licensing framework, Industry Canada takes into consideration the need to provide spectrum access for services and technologies; the impact of the framework on all stakeholders; and the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (SPFC). The SPFC's objective is to maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from the use of the radio frequency spectrum. Its enabling guidelines state that spectrum management practices, including licensing methods, should respond to changing technology and market place demands. In addition it states that spectrum policy and management should support the efficient functioning of markets by permitting the flexible use of spectrum to the extent possible and by making spectrum available for use in a timely fashion.


5. Background

A broad range of industries relies on fixed backhaul microwave and broadband wireless access (BWA) systems for a host of applications. These systems are deployed by cellular, telephone and Internet service providers on national, provincial, regional and local levels for the carriage of internet, data and voice traffic, by hospitals, businesses and universities for the interconnection of campuses, by electrical power utilities, by all levels of government and for backup purposes to improve network reliability.

Consumer demands for faster broadband services, higher bandwidth applications, and connectivity anytime and everywhere, coupled with the additional spectrum release to provide mobile broadband services (e.g. 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands), continued deployment in the commercial mobile bands (e.g. Cellular, Personal Communications Service and Advanced Wireless Services bands) and deployments of BWA systems, have resulted in significant growth in traffic volumes, which have led to increased demands for capacity in backhaul networks. Due to this increased demand, service providers requested additional backhaul spectrum in the 20-40 GHz range as part of their responses to SMSE-018-12, Consultation on Spectrum Utilization Policies and Technical Requirements Related to Backhaul Spectrum in Various Bands, Including Bands Shared With Satellite, Mobile and Other Services.

In response to this demand, Industry Canada is carefully considering all options for maximization of the efficient allocation of fixed spectrum. In particular, this paper focuses on various fixed frequency bands that have become available through previous decisions and which are now under review in order to make them available in an expeditious and efficient manner.

The bands addressed in this paper include:

  1. 24 and 38 GHz spectrum, both the unassigned in the 1999 auction and spectrum which is expected to be available at the end of the current licence term;
  2. 28 GHz spectrum assigned in 2011 through a FCFS spectrum licence process; and
  3. 38 GHz spectrum currently available for spectrum licensing on a FCFS basis.

The paper also addresses the renewal process at the end of the licence term for the 24 and 38 GHz licences auctioned in 1999.

Each of these is addressed in the following sections in more detail.

5.1 The Auctioned 24 and 38 GHz Bands

The auctioned 24 GHz band refers to 400 MHz of paired spectrum with the lower frequency band of 24.25- 24.45 GHz and the upper frequency band of 25.05-25.25 GHz. The auctioned 38 GHz band refers to 800 MHz of paired spectrum with the lower 38.70-39.10 GHz and the upper frequency band of 39.40-39.80 GHz. The bands are allocated to fixed service and they are intended to be used for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint broadband wireless applications.

In May 1999, Industry Canada released DGRB-003-99, Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands. The spectrum blocks for the 24 and 38 GHz auction were defined as shown in the table below and were made available based on Tier 3 service areas.Footnote1

Table 1 – The 24 and 38 GHz Auctioned Spectrum Blocks
Spectrum Licence Size (MHz) Lower Frequency (GHz) Upper Frequency (GHz)
A 200 + 200 24.25-24.45 25.05-25.25
B 200 + 200 38.70-38.90 39.40-39.60
C 50 + 50 38.90-38.95 39.60-39.65
D 50 + 50 38.95-39.00 39.65-39.70
E 50 + 50 39.00-39.05 39.70-39.75
F 50 + 50 39.05-39.10 39.75-39.80

Through a simultaneous multiple-round ascending auction (SMRA), Industry Canada awarded 260 of the 354 available licences to 12 successful bidders for a total of $171.8 million. The unassigned 94 licences remained with Industry Canada.

The licences had a 10-year term, and conditions of licence which also included a spectrum implementation requirement (hereinafter referred to deployment requirement) for licensees to demonstrate to the Minister of Industry that their spectrum has been put to use within three years of the auction's close. Licensees were required to show the establishment of eight links per one million population (rounded up to a whole number) within a service area, or provide some other indicator of usage deemed acceptable to the Department. The objective of this licence condition is to ensure that spectrum, a limited public resource, is put to use in a timely manner.

5.1.1       Extensions to Deployment Requirement and Licence Term

As the deployment deadlines for the 24 and 38 GHz spectrum licences approached, Industry Canada received requests from several licensees for an extension, citing a lack of suitable and affordable equipment preventing them from meeting the deployment deadline. After reviewing the requests, Industry Canada agreed that extenuating circumstances outside the control of the licensee may have affected deployment. Given that this limited the ability of licensees to establish service in the time frame specified, the Department granted an extension to July 2, 2007 to meet the spectrum deployment requirement.

As the 2007 deployment deadline approached, Industry Canada received requests for a further extension. Licensees again cited the lack of availability of suitable and affordable radio equipment as hindering deployment. After reviewing the requests, Industry Canada decided that the challenges outlined by licensees justified a further extension of the deployment requirement deadline. DGRB-003-07, Extension of the Implementation of Spectrum Usage Deadline for 24 and 38 GHz Licences,Footnote2 was published on May 25, 2007, extending the deadline to all auctioned 24 and 38 GHz licences to the end of the 10-year licence term.

The 24 and 38 GHz spectrum licences were awarded with 10-year terms from the date of issuance. Industry Canada also indicated that at the end of the term or any subsequent term, licensees would have a high expectancy for renewal for a further 10-year term unless a breach of licence condition had occurred, a fundamental reallocation of spectrum to a new service was required or an overriding policy need arose.

In response to DGRB-001-08, Consultation on the Renewal of 24 and 38 GHz Spectrum Licences, licensees commented that the continued lack of suitable and affordable radio equipment was hindering deployment. After taking comments into consideration, Industry Canada released DGRB-004-09, Decision on the Renewal of 24 and 38 GHz Spectrum Licences and Consultation on Spectrum Licence Fees for 24, 28 and 38 GHz Bands, in March 2009. This document announced the decision to grant a five-year extension to the existing licence term for all of the auctioned 24 and 38 GHz spectrum licences, while also extending the deadline for deployment to the end of this extended licence term.

5.1.2       Unassigned Licences

At the close of the auction, 94 of the 354 available licences remained unassigned. Since then, an additional eight licences have been returned to the Department. Industry Canada currently holds 102 licences, seven in the 24 GHz band and 95 in the 38 GHz band. Industry Canada has received very little interest in these spectrum licences.

5.2 The FCFS 38 GHz Band

The FCFS 38 GHz band refers to 800 MHz of spectrum which includes the frequency bands 38.4-38.6 GHz, 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.3 GHz, 39.3-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz. DBRB-003-99/DGTP-005-99, Final Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands, made 38.4-38.6 GHz, 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.3 GHz, 39.3-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz available for FCFS licensing within geographical areas. The band 38.4-38.6 GHz is designated for unpaired point-to-point and unpaired multipoint communication systems. The band 38.6-38.7 GHz is paired with 39.3-39.4 GHz and the band 39.1-39.3 GHz is paired with 39.8-40 GHz. These paired bands are designated for paired point-to-point microwave systems.

CPC-2-1-17, Licensing Process and Application Procedure for Non-auctioned Spectrum Licences in the 38 GHz Band, contains the detailed licensing process and the conditions of licence for the FCFS 38 GHz band. The Department uses a grid concept to define service areas for the FCFS 38 GHz band licences. A spectrum grid cell is represented by a hexagon covering an area of 25 square kilometres. The minimum authorized service area normally consists of a group of five adjacent spectrum grid cells or 125 square kilometres. Each grid cell could be shared with multiple licensees. The annual licence fees for paired and unpaired blocks are $240 and $120 per spectrum grid cell, respectively.

5.3 The 28 GHz Band

The 28 GHz band refers to 2,100 MHz of spectrum including the frequency bands 25.25-26.50 GHz and 27.50-28.35 GHz. The band is allocated to fixed service and its use is intended to be for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint applications.

In February 1996, Industry Canada issued a call for applications, announcing that the Department would use a comparative process to select licensees for two 500 MHz frequency blocks in the 28 GHz band for Local Multipoint Communication Systems (LMCS): Block A from 27.85 to 28.35 GHz; and Block B from 27.35 to 27.85 GHz.

In October 1996, the Department announced the successful candidates of the comparative process and issued licences to three companies. It was also announced that the remaining four 500 MHz blocks (blocks C, D, E and F) from 25.35 to 27.35 MHz would be reserved. Limited deployments took place in blocks A and B and all licences were eventually returned to Industry Canada by January 2002.

In DGRB-004-09 the Department indicated that licences for the unassigned and returned 28 GHz spectrum would be issued on a FCFS basis.

In DGTP-002-10, Consultation on the Use of the Band 25.25-28.35 GHz, Industry Canada made available portions of the spectrum in the 25.35-28.35 GHz range, which included the lower portion to 25.25 GHz, and opening the lower 25.25-26.50 portion and upper 27.50-28.35 GHz portion. It was proposed that both bands, totalling 2,100 MHz, be licensed on a FCFS basis. The band 26.5-27.5 GHz (1,000 MHz) was held in reserve given that it is used for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and other systems in the United States and Europe.

In addition, DGTP-002-10 announced an interim licensing process for this band where licensees would be issued radio licences. The Department indicated that it would immediately begin accepting applications for radiocommunication station licences, to be issued on a non-standard basis, in parts of the bands 25.25-26.5 GHz and 27.5-28.35 GHz.

DGTP-002-10 also indicated that the details of the formal licensing process would be established through a future consultation. SP 25.25, Spectrum Utilization Policy, Decisions on the Band 25.25-28.35 GHz, provides decisions on the band plan as well as the principles for the FCFS spectrum licensing in the 28 GHz band. However, it indicates that work on the licensing policy and the setting of fees (through the User Fee Act process) is continuing and until this work is complete, the interim licensing process described in DGTP-002-10 will continue to apply.


6. Spectrum in the 24 GHz Band

6.1 24 GHz Spectrum Usage and Band Plan in Canada

The structure of the 24 GHz band is closely aligned with the United States, to provide the greatest availability of equipment.

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations includes a primary allocation to the fixed service in the bands 24.25-24.45 GHz and 25.05-25.25 GHz and a corresponding Canadian domestic footnote C44.Footnote3 These bands are also allocated to other services on a co-primary basis, but these allocations are not being considered in this consultation.

Through SMSE-003-14, Decision of Use of the Frequency Band 25.05-25.25 GHz, the Department released its decision to clarify the use of the band 25.05-25.25 GHz which is shared between fixed service systems and fixed- satellite service systems. As part of SMSE-03-14, Industry Canada is changing footnote C44 to clarify the shared use of the band.

The spectrum in this band is divided into five paired frequency blocks of 40 + 40 MHz,Footnote4 which were packaged as a single 400 MHz licence in the 1999 auction, labelled Block A (see Figure 1). Use of this band is on a coordinated basis within Canada and with the United States.

Figure 1: The 24 GHz Band Plan

Figure 1: The 24 GHz Band Plan (the long description is 

located below the image)
Description of Figure 1

This figure shows the Canadian band plan for the 24 GHz band which includes the lower portion from 24.25 – 24.45 GHz and the upper portion from 25.05 – 25.25 GHz. The lower and upper portions are divided into 40 MHz paired blocks. When auctioned, these blocks were grouped together to form Block A, consisting of 400 MHz (200 MHz + 200 MHz). Between the paired blocks the figure shows that the band 24.45 – 25.05 GHz is used by other services.

Licensees are permitted to use any channelling arrangement within the licensed blocks of spectrum as long as the requirements for out-of-block emissions at the licensed band edge are met.

6.2 Status of 24 GHz Licence Deployment in Canada

According to Industry Canada's records, of the 52 licences issued after the auction in the 24 GHz band, the deployment requirement of eight links per million population is currently met in 10 licence areas, two licence areas have partially deployed and the majority (40) have no deployment to date. The remaining seven licences are with Industry Canada.

The data collected shows that 913 links are deployed, indicating there is equipment available for use.

6.3 The 24 GHz Band Internationally

In the United States, this band was auctioned in 2004 for high-capacity broadband backhaul and transport, and licensees were allowed to provide any kind of digital fixed communications service consistent with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. Similar to the Canadian band plan, the band was divided into five (40 + 40 MHz) paired frequency blocks (see Figure 1). Each of these five pairs in 176 areas across the United States was available as part of the FCC auction for a total of 880 licences. Additionally, licensees were permitted to partition and disaggregate their licences.

Of these 880 licences, only seven were issued to three licenseesFootnote5 for a 10-year term with a renewal expectancy based on the demonstration of substantial service. The commission defined “substantial service” as “service which is sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal.” These seven licences expire March 16, 2015.

European countries do not have similar frequency ranges for the 24 GHz band since the 24.2-24.5 GHz band is not heavily used in Europe.Footnote6


7. Spectrum in the 38 GHz Band

7.1 38 GHz Spectrum Usage and Band Plan in Canada

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations includes a primary allocation to the fixed service in the 38-40 GHz range and a corresponding Canadian domestic footnote C51.Footnote7 This range is also allocated to other services on a co-primary and secondary basis; these “other” services are not being considered in this consultation.

The band 38.4-40 GHz (see Figure 2), totalling 1,600 MHz, is divided into four 50 MHz unpaired blocks and 14 frequency pairs of 50 + 50 MHz for fixed applications. A total of 800 MHz was licensed for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint use through the auction process and were packaged as one 400 MHz licence labelled Block B and four 100 MHz (50 + 50 MHz) licences labelled Blocks C-F respectively (see Table 2 and Figures 2 and 3). The four 50 MHz unpaired blocks (a total of 200 MHz) were designated for licensing on a shared basis, for point-to-point and multipoint communications systems, under a FCFS process (see Table 2 and Figure 3). The remaining six frequency pairs of 50  + 50 MHz each (a total of 600 MHz) were designated for licensing on a shared basis, for point-to-point use only, under a FCFS process (see Table 2 and Figure 2). Use of this spectrum is subject to coordination within Canada and with the United States.Footnote8

Figure 2: The 38 GHz Band Plan

Figure 2: The 38 GHz Band Plan (the long description is 

located below the image)
Description of Figure 2

This figure shows the Canadian band plan for the 38 GHz band which includes first-come, first-served spectrum and auctioned spectrum. Details of each block can be found in Table 2 — Summary of the 38 GHz band.


Table 2 – Summary of the 38 GHz Band
Frequency Limits (GHz) Usage Licensing Process Block Label Block Size (MHz)
38.40-38.45 one-way
point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
FCFS,
Unpaired
Block A 50
38.45-38.50 one-way
point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
FCFS,
Unpaired
Block B 50
38.50-38.55 one-way
point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
FCFS,
Unpaired
Block C 50
38.55-38.60 one-way
point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
FCFS,
Unpaired
Block D 50
38.60-38.65 / 39.30-39.35 point-to-point FCFS Block A/A' 50
38.65-38.70 / 39.35-39.40 point-to-point FCFS Block B/B' 50
38.70-38.90 / 39.40-39.60 point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
Auction Block B 400
38.90-38.95 / 39.60-39.65 point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
Auction Block C 50
38.95-39.00 / 39.65-39.70 point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
Auction Block D 50
39.0-39.05 / 39.70-39.75 point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
Auction Block E 50
39.05-39.10 / 39.75-39.80 point-to-point
point-to-multipoint
Auction Block F 50
39.10-39.15 / 39.80-39.85 point-to-point FCFS Block K/K' 50
39.15-39.20 / 39.85-39.90 point-to-point FCFS Block L/L' 50
39.20-39.25 / 39.90-39.95 point-to-point FCFS Block M/M' 50
39.25-39.30 / 39.95-40.00 point-to-point FCFS Block N/N' 50

All licences are permitted to use any channelling arrangement within the licensed blocks of spectrum as long as the requirements for out-of-block emissions at the licensed band edge are met.

The shared frequency pairs in the band 38.6-40.0 GHz are available for deployment of point-to-point systems and details can be found in SRSP-338.6, Technical Requirements for Fixed Radio Systems Operating in the Band 38.6-40.0 GHz, and CPC-2-1-17, Licensing Process and Application Procedure for Non-auctioned. Spectrum Licences in the 38 GHz Band.

Figure 3: The Auctioned 38 GHz Blocks

Figure 3: The Auctioned 38 GHz Blocks (the long description 

is located below the image)
Description of Figure 3

This figure shows the block groupings for the auctioned spectrum in the Canadian band plan for the 38 GHz band. It includes one 400 MHz block and four smaller 100 MHz blocks, all are paired. Details of each block can be found in Table 2 – Summary of the 38 GHz band.

7.2 Status of 38 GHz Licence Deployment in Canada

Currently in the auctioned 38 GHz band, out of the 208 licences issued after the auction, the deployment requirement of eight links per million population are met in the case of six licence areas, eight have partially deployed and the majority (194) have no deployment to date. Industry Canada has the remaining 87 licences.

The data collected shows that 82 links are deployed in the auctioned portion of the 38 GHz band, indicating that there is equipment available for use.

The Department notes that currently, 12 licensees hold a total of 95 spectrum licences within the FCFS 38 GHz band.

7.3 The 38 GHz Band Internationally

In the United States, the band 38.6-40 GHz was auctioned in 2000 for fixed service communications, including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint, and licensees were allowed to provide voice, high-speed data and Internet access. As with the Canadian band plan, the U.S. band was divided into 14 (50 MHz + 50 MHz) paired frequency blocks (see Table 2). The FCC auctioned each of these 14 pairs in 175 areas across the United States for a total of 2,450 licences.Footnote9 Additionally, licensees were permitted to partition and disaggregate their licences. The band 38.4-38.6 GHz is not available for fixed services in the United States.

The European Communications Office (ECO) published a report analyzing the current and predicting future fixed service use as of March 2012 (ECC Report 173).Footnote10 The analysis was based on contributions from 28 European countries, including France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as feedback from 12 operating/manufacturer companies/associations.

In Europe, the band 37.5-39.5 GHz is a heavily used for point-to-point fixed service by 19 European countries, with roughly 136,000 links deployed. While congestion was reported by four countries, increased use of the band in the coming years was forecast by 18 countries. The forecasted increase in use of point-to-point fixed service in this band in Europe is relevant as it is based on the need to support commercial mobile services. As discussed in section 5, a similar increase in demand for these services is expected for Canada.

The following figure illustrates the increase in European point-to-point usage within the band over the 13 years from 1997 to 2010.

Figure 4: Trend for the P-P Links in the Band 37.0-39.5 GHz in the 19 European Countries Available for Comparison

Figure 4: Trend for the P-P Links in the Band 37.0-39.5 GHz 

in the 19 European Countries Available for Comparison (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 4
Year Number of links
1997 11,290
2003 39,182
2010 93,241

This figure shows the point-to-point trend in the 37.0 – 39.5 GHz band from 19 European countries. The trend indicates a substantial growth in the number of point-to-point links over a 13 year span from 1997- 2010.


8. Spectrum in the 28 GHz Band

8.1 28 GHz Spectrum Usage and Band Plan in Canada

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations includes a primary allocation to the fixed service in the range 25.25-28.35 GHz with corresponding domestic footnotes C47AFootnote11 and C47B.Footnote12 This range is also allocated to other services on a co-primary and secondary basis; these other services are not being considered in this consultation.

The lower and upper portions of the 28 GHz band, 25.25-28.35 GHz, with 26.5-27.5 GHz held in reserve, are available for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint fixed systems with a mixture of block sizes, pairings and duplexing schemes.Footnote13

Figure 5: The 28 GHz Band Plan

Figure 5: The 28 GHz Band Plan (the long description is 

located below the image)
Description of Figure 5

This figure shows the Canadian band plan for the 28 GHz band. The lower portion from 25.25 – 26.50 GHz is allocated for fixed systems and a mix of FDD and TDD whereas the upper portion from 27.50 – 28.35 GHz is allocated for fixed systems with FDD only. The figure also shows that the spectrum between 26.50 – 27.50 GHz is subject to a future review.

8.2 Status of 28 GHz Licence Deployment in Canada

According to Industry Canada's records, there is currently one licensee in this band with 44 links that are radio licensed.

8.3 The 28 GHz Band Internationally

In the United States, Local Multipoint Distribution Systems (LMDS) operate in the band 27.5-28.35 GHz, using 25 and 50 MHz blocks.

In Europe, the two paired bands 24.549 to 25.445 GHz and 25.557 to 26.453 GHz have been designated to the fixed service.

In Europe, fixed licences in the 24.5-26.5 GHz and 27.5-29.5 GHz ranges are assigned in 112 MHz, 56 MHz, 28 MHz, 14 MHz, 7 MHz and 3.5 MHz blocks. The 24.5-26.5 GHz range is made up of paired bands assigned to the fixed service, with a duplex spacing of 1008 MHz. The Canadian 28 GHz band plan harmonizes with the European band plan in the 25.25-26.5 GHz range to the maximum extent possible.

The 24.5-26.5 GHz band is heavily used (30 countries) with 37,000 point-to-point links and more than 2200 point-to-multipoint (base stations). Links are primarily used for fixed and mobile infrastructure.

More than 20 countries expect to see increased use of the 24.5-26.5 GHz band (10% – 30%) in the coming years, while some are already experiencing congestion. The following figure illustrates the trend of point-to-point use within the band over the past 13 years from 1997 to 2010. Given these trends and given that the Canadian band plan is aligned with this portion of the band, it is expected there will be an equipment ecosystem for fixed point-to-point services. Furthermore, since the growth in this band is based on the need to support commercial mobile services, it is expected that Canada will also experience increased demand for the 28 GHz band.

Figure 6: Trend for the P-P links in the Band 24.5-26.5 GHz in the 19 European Countries Available for Comparison

Figure 6: Trend for the P-P links in the Band 24.5-26.5 GHz 

in the 19 European Countries Available for Comparison (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 6
Year Number of Point-To-Point Links Number of Point-To-Multipoint Links
19979090
200112,9660
201033,1181512

This figure shows the point-to-point and point-to-multipoint trend in the 24.5 – 26.5 GHz band from 19 European countries. The trend indicates a substantial growth in the number of point-to- point links over a 13 year span from 1997-2010. Less growth is noted over the same time frame in the point-to-multipoint links.


9. New Licensing Process for Available Spectrum in the 24, 28 and 38 GHz Bands

Industry Canada notes that at the time of the 24 and 38 GHz auction in 1999, interest in wireless technologies and the potential for high-speed Internet was extremely high. These bands were anticipated to be instrumental in delivering these services.

In DGRB-004-09, Decision on the Renewal of 24 and 38 GHz Spectrum Licences and Consultation on Spectrum Licence Fees for 24, 28 and 38 GHz Bands, Industry Canada stated its intention to implement a FCFS process for the unassigned licences and returned 24, 28 and 38 GHz spectrum noting that the Department reserves its right to review the use of the FCFS process and to consider a competitive licensing process at any time should demand warrant.

As discussed in sections 6.2 and 7.2, 234 of the 260 licences have no deployment in the 15 years since they were auctioned. Furthermore, there has been little interest in the 102 licences currently being held by Industry Canada. As a result, the Department believes that supply continues to exceed demand in the 24 GHz and 38 GHz bands and that there is no need at this time for a new competitive process for the available spectrum.

Commercial mobile service providers are increasingly deploying smaller cells to increase network capacity and throughput. Given this trend toward smaller size cells, deployment of mobile backhaul networks will require shorter links (amenable to the use of higher frequency bands). This could increase the demand for and use of the 24 and 38 GHz band. Radio equipment for these bands is available, with various companies making point-to- point and/or point-to-multipoint equipment.Footnote14

In response to the backhaul consultation described in Canada Gazette Notice SMSE-018-12, Consultation on Spectrum Utilization Policies and Technical Requirements Related to Backhaul Spectrum in Various Bands, Including Bands Shared With Satellite, Mobile and Other Services, the Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC)Footnote15 proposed that Industry Canada facilitate access to unassigned frequency blocks in the 24 and 38 GHz bands on a FCFS basis for backhaul and multipoint facilities.

 The RABC indicated that the decision also deals with the return of spectrum in the 28 GHz band. The Board noted that an update of the available spectrum blocks and area information for the 28 GHz band would greatly assist spectrum access on a FCFS basis.

TELUSFootnote16 stated that the 38 GHz band has significant spectrum that could be used for short urban backhaul. The company also suggested that the fragmentation between FCFS and auctioned spectrum makes it difficult to use this band as a fibre alternative in urban areas since that would require paired blocks larger than 50 MHz. TELUS therefore recommends that the Department modify the current 38 GHz policy to address all unused spectrum, from the non-auctioned and the auctioned portions of the band, for use in multiple large channel sizes. TELUS encourages the Department to address this in the coming year to facilitate use of this band for backhaul for mobile and fixed broadband services.

9.1 Licensing Approach

The 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands are designated for the use of fixed point-to-point and point-to- multipoint systems. In addition, the propagation characteristics in these bands for fixed services allow licensees to operate relatively close to each other with minimal risk of interference. As such, a site-specific, FCFS licensing approach would be well-suited for these kinds of systems.

A spectrum licensing approach provides licensees more flexibility to adjust and expand their use of the spectrum as required. This is particularly useful when deploying commercial mobile services where there is a need to cover large areas and there are a large number of subscribers that could be anywhere. Site-specific licensing is a more managed approach where Industry Canada would licence each link. For fixed services, particularly at these frequencies, site-specific FCFS licensing can maximize the use of the spectrum by allowing more licensees to operate in the same area while allowing for expansion of services.

Taking into account the reasoning provided, Industry Canada is consulting on a new, FCFS licensing process for these bands.

For this process, standard radio licence procedures, as per RSP-113, Application procedures for Planned Radio Stations Above 960 MHz in the Fixed Service, including conditions of licence, will apply to the 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands.

In the case of point-to-multipoint systems, however, one fixed station often acts as a central hub station in relation to other remote link stations, and common transmitting and receiving frequencies are used for all associated communication links. The Department proposes that the licensing of point-to-multipoint systems be based on a central hub, with the use of one common transmitting frequency and one common receiving frequency. Licensees would still be required to provide all technical remote station information. Any additional transmitting and receiving frequencies used by the hub will be issued as separate radio licences.

9.1.1 Auctioned Bands

To maximize the use of the auctioned 24 and 38 GHz bands, Industry Canada is proposing to make new licences in these bands available on a FCFS basis using a radio licensing process. Recognizing that licensees have different bandwidth requirements and that licensing block sizes that meet these requirements increases flexibility and efficiency, Industry Canada is proposing these radio licences be available in accordance with the radio frequency block arrangements that are described in the relevant SRSPs. For example, the A block for 24 GHz that is comprised of 40 + 40 MHz paired (A to E and A' to E') would be licensed in accordance with the relevant SRSP rather than the current 200 + 200 MHz as it was in the auction.

9.1.2 FCFS 38 GHz Band

A consistent licensing approach throughout the 38 GHz band would facilitate larger channel sizes, increasing licensees' ability to deploy systems with greater capacities. This would enable licensees to address increased spectrum requirements for backhaul as a result of growing consumer demand, faster data rates and more sophisticated applications.

Given the Department's new licensing process proposal for the unassigned and returned auctioned spectrum, the Department proposes to align this licensing approach across the entire 38 GHz band. Industry Canada is proposing that any new deployments within the non-auctioned portion of the 38 GHz band (38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz), be site- specific licensing.

The Department notes that current licensees in the FCFS 38 GHz band have deployed point-to-point systems in accordance with their spectrum licence conditions. As such, it proposes renewal of spectrum licences with a one-year term is available to those who meet all of their licence conditions. It is proposed that radio stations already deployed by spectrum licence holders would continue to be authorized and with their existing fees, but that any new radio stations or modifications of existing sites would require a radio licence for the particular site. Furthermore, the Department is not proposing any changes to the conditions of licence for these spectrum licences. This would allow continued service for what has been deployed by licensees as well as the option to expand services through site specific licensing.

The 1999 document, Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of the 24 and 38 GHz Frequency Bands, permits point-to-point and/or point-to-multipoint use, throughout the auctioned portion of the band, and designates the remaining seven frequency pairs for point-to-point use only, under the existing FCFS process.

The Department proposes that usage of the 38 GHz band be aligned and that point-to-point and/or point-to-multipoint use be permitted within the frequency ranges 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz. In addition to being technology neutral, a harmonized band would further increase a licensee' flexibility by permitting the deployment of similar systems within the entire 38 GHz band, rather than artificially restricting systems to certain portions of the band.

As a consequence of the proposal to issue radio licences, revisions may be required to the footnote C51 in the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations as it currently indicates that applications within the 38.6-40 GHz band are operating on an area basis. The Department proposes that footnote C51 be modified as follows, should revisions be necessary:

  • C 51(CAN-00) the band 38.6-40 GHz is being licensed for begin strikethroughhigh densityend strikethrough applications in the fixed service begin strikethroughoperating on an area basis (point-to-multipoint)end strikethrough, which will be given priority over fixed-satellite service systems sharing this spectrum on a co-primary basis. Fixed- satellite service implementation in this spectrum will be limited to applications which will pose minimal constraints upon the deployment of fixed service systems, such as a small number of large antennas for feeder links.

9.1.3 28 GHz Band

Given that the 28 GHz band is currently being radio licensed under the interim licensing process and is being used for the same applications as the 24 and 38 GHz bands, the Department proposes to align this licensing approach with these bands.

As a consequence of this proposal, existing 28 GHz radio licences that were issued as non-standard licences as part of the interim licensing process would be issued standard radio licences going forward provided the technical requirements as outlined in SRSP-325.25 are met.

In SP 25.25, the Department set out seven principles for the FCFS spectrum licensing process. These principles were developed to accommodate a greater number of licensees in a given geographical area. Given the proposal for radio licensing, these principles would no longer apply.

For the 28 GHz band, the radio frequency channelling arrangements contained in SRSP-325.25 will continue to apply for new radio licences.

9.2 Radio Licence Fees

Fees for radio licences as set out in the Radiocommunication Regulations would apply. The fee would be determined by the type of station licensed and the type of service used.

Schedule III, Part II, Column IV of the Radiocommunication Regulations is used for calculating radio licence fees for fixed stations that communicate to other fixed stations.

Telephone Channel Equivalencies are required for the purpose of calculating the radio licence fees payable for a radio licence authorizing operation on certain frequencies for radio apparatus installed in a fixed station or space station referred to in section 61 or 65 or 73 of the Radiocommunication Regulations, section 58.(c) applies:

  • 58.(c) one digitally modulated channel is equivalent to the number of telephone channels calculated by dividing the modulation bit rate by 64 kilobits per second.

Additional information on how to calculate radio fees can be found in RIC-42, Guide for Calculating Radio Licence Fees.

Industry Canada is currently conducting an internal review of licence fees and a future consultation on proposed changes to fees may be undertaken.

1. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal to licence any available spectrum in the auctioned 24 GHz and 38 GHz bands, specifically 24.25-24.45 GHz, 25.05-25.25 GHz, 38.70-39.10 GHz and 39.40-39.80 GHz, as FCFS radio licences.

2. Industry Canada invites comments on issuing radio licences based on the SRSP defined channel sizes (SRSP 324.25 and SRSP 338.6).

3. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal to licence any new FCFS systems within the 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz frequency ranges as radio licences.

4. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal to continue to provide applicable licensees with the opportunity to renew 38 GHz spectrum licences annually (in the bands 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz). It is proposed that existing radio stations operated by these licensees will require no further radio licences but any new stations or modification of an existing station require a radio licence.

5. Industry  ;Canada invites comments on the proposal to issue radio licences for all links in the 28 GHz band (25.25-26.5 GHz and 27.5-28.35 GHz).

6. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal that point-to-point and/or point-to- multipoint use be permitted within the frequency ranges 38.6-38.7 GHz, 39.1-39.4 GHz, and 39.8-40 GHz.

7. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal that the licensing of point-to-multipoint systems be based on a central hub, with the use of one common transmitting frequency and one common receiving frequency. Any additional transmitting and receiving frequencies used by the hub will be issued as separate radio licences. Provide supporting rationale for your comments.


10. Renewal of Existing Auctioned 24 and 38 GHz Licences

The existing licences in the auctioned 24 GHz and 38 GHz bands expire over a span of 3 years. The majority of the licences expire in January 2015 and the last licences expire in May 2018.

As discussed in section 5, Industry Canada has given two deployment extensions and one term extension to the licensees in these bands based on the lack of equipment availability. Considering that there is deployment within some licensed areas and certified equipment in both bands, Industry Canada believes that lack of equipment availability is no longer a consideration with respect to licensees being able to meet their deployment requirement.

As discussed in section 5, Industry Canada has stated in Framework for Spectrum Auctions in Canada (FSAC) and in the documents related to these bands that licensees in compliance with their conditions of licence at the end of their licence term will have a high expectation of renewal, unless a breach of licence condition has occurred, a fundamental reallocation of spectrum to a new service is required or an overriding policy need arises.

Based on the high expectation of renewal and that there is no major allocation changes anticipated for the use of these bands, Industry Canada is proposing to renew licences for those in compliance with their conditions of licence. With respect to the deployment condition of licence, it is proposed that eight links per one million population (rounded up to a whole number) within a service area be the minimum indicator of usage acceptable to the Department for meeting this condition of licence. It is proposed that these licences would be issued as new spectrum licences of the existing Tier 3 geography for a 10-year term.

As noted in section 9.1, Industry Canada indicates that site-specific FCFS licensing is more efficient than spectrum licensing for fixed services, even when the required level of deployment has been met. Spectrum licensing in these bands results in much of the spectrum in many areas remaining unused.Footnote17

The international trends, as shown in sections 6.1 and 7.1, indicate that these bands are expected to continue to be used for fixed services and that the use of these bands for fixed services will continue to grow as a larger number of small cells and new commercial mobile bands are deployed. It is therefore proposed that where demand for new deployment cannot be met under the new licensing process proposed in section 9, Industry Canada may exercise the authority to issue radio licences related to specific sites within spectrum- licensed areas.

10.1 Conditions of New Spectrum Licences in the Auctioned 24 and 38 GHz Bands

As part of the discussion related to licence terms, the Framework for Spectrum Auctions in Canada states that as a condition of licence, licences will have a high expectation of renewal where all of the licence conditions have been met. As is the usual case with new licences, some terms and conditions will differ from those that were issued originally.

With respect to the licence term on the new licences issued through the renewal process, as discussed in section 9, Industry Canada believes that site-specific FCFS licensing is the most suitable licensing approach for the 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands as it enables the most efficient use of the spectrum. As such, at the end of the next licence term, Industry Canada will hold a consultation to determine whether new licences will be issued through a renewal process and, if so, under what terms and conditions. Industry Canada will consider, among other things, the level of use of similar bands in similar geographic areas and the extent to which assigned frequency blocks are being used by each licensee at the time of renewal when assessing deployment. Therefore, these licences would not have the high expectation of renewal associated with auctioned licences.

It is proposed that, consistent with other long term spectrum licences, the new licences would be transferable in whole or in part (either in geographic area or in bandwidth) to a third party, subject to Industry Canada's approval.

In February 2014, Industry Canada published SLPB-002-14, Decisions on Conditions of Licence Regarding Research and Development and Learning Plans, which modified the condition of licence requiring licensees to invest a portion of their adjusted gross revenues in research and development (R&D) activities. This revised condition of licence applies to all existing spectrum and satellite licences that are currently subject to the R&D condition of licence. In addition, the Department indicated that the section of the annual reporting condition of licence related to R&D will be amended accordingly. These revisions will be applied to the conditions of licence for the new spectrum licences in the 24 GHz and 38 GHz bands (see sections 10 and 13 of Annex A).

Licensees will be expected to maintain a level of deployment equal to or greater than the existing deployment condition of eight links per one million population (rounded up to a whole number) within a service area as part of their renewed spectrum licences throughout the new licence term. Therefore, this requirement will apply throughout the licence term (see section 11 in Annex A).

Licensees who have not met their deployment conditions or are in breach of any other condition at the end of their licence term will not be eligible to obtain a new spectrum licence through the renewal process. It is proposed that spectrum in the applicable licence areas become available for use for site-specific licensing under a FCFS process. Therefore, if the proposal for a site-specific FCFS licensing process is adopted, existing licensees in the auctioned 24 and 38 GHz bands who have deployed some equipment but who have only partially met the deployment conditions could be eligible to apply for radio licences with respect to particular sites. This would allow for continued service for systems that have been deployed as well as the option to expand deployment through additional radio licences.

10.2 Fees for Renewed, Auctioned Spectrum Licences

The FSAC states that for licences issued through a renewal process, licence fees that reflect some measure of market value will apply. A separate consultation will be launched to determine the spectrum licence fees that will apply to new spectrum licences issued through this renewal process.

8. Industry Canada invites comments on the proposal to make available new Tier 3 spectrum licences for a 10-year term for the licences in the previously auctioned 24 and 38 GHz bands that have met their conditions of licence and that those that have not met all conditions of licence as set out in the document, would not be eligible under the renewal process.

9. Industry Canada also invites comments on the proposed conditions of licence for the new spectrum licences as set out in Annex A.

Provide supporting rationale for your comments.


11. Next Steps

Industry Canada will review the comments received and publish its decision.


12. Submitting Comments

Respondents are requested to provide their comments in electronic format (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF) to the following email address: ic.spectrumauctions-encheresduspectre.ic@canada.ca.

In addition, respondents are asked to specify question numbers for ease of referencing.

Written submissions should be addressed to the Director, Auction Policy and Economic Research, Industry Canada, 235 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5. All submissions should cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, the publication date, the title and the notice reference number (SLPB-003-14). Parties should submit their comments no later than July 7, 2014, to ensure consideration. Soon after the close of the comment period, all comments received will be posted on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum.

Industry Canada will also provide interested parties with the opportunity to reply to comments from other parties. Reply comments will be accepted until July 28, 2014.

All comments and reply comments will be published, so those making submissions are asked not to provide confidential or private information in their submissions.

After the initial comment period, Industry Canada may, at its discretion, request additional information if needed to clarify significant positions or new proposals. Should additional information be requested, the reply comment deadline may be extended.


13. Obtaining Copies

All spectrum-related documents referred to in this paper are available on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum.

For further information concerning the proposals outlined in this consultation or related matters, contact:

Industry Canada
c/o Director, Spectrum Licensing and Auction Operations (JETN, 17th Floor)
235 Queen Street,
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5
Telephone: 613-990-4411
Fax: 613-957-4067
Email:  ic.spectrumauctions-encheresduspectre.ic@canada.ca


Annex A — Proposed Conditions of Licence

The following conditions will apply to new spectrum licences in the auctioned 24 and 38 GHz bands. These Conditions of Licence are proposed to align with the decisions taken in other processes and the proposals within this consultation as described in section 10.1.1.

It should be noted that the licences are subject to the relevant provisions in the Radiocommunication Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, as amended from time to time. For example, the Minister continues to have the power to amend the terms and conditions of spectrum licences, under section 5(1)(b) of the Radiocommunication Act.

1. Licence Term

The term of this licence is 10 years. Prior to the end of the licence term, a consultation will be held to determine whether new licences will be issued through a renewal process and if so under what terms and conditions.

2. Licence Fees

The licensee must pay the applicable annual licence fee on or before March 31 of each year for the subsequent year (April 1 to March 31).

3. Eligibility Criteria

The licensee must conform to eligibility criteria as set out in Section 9(1) of the Radiocommunication Regulations.

4. Licence Transferability and Divisibility

This licence is transferable in whole or in part (divisibility), in both bandwidth and geographic dimensions, subject to Industry Canada's approval. A Subordinate Licence may also be issued in regard to this licence, subject to Industry Canada's approval.

In all cases, the licensee must follow the procedures as outlined in Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-1-23, Licensing Procedure for Spectrum Licences for Terrestrial Services.

All capitalized terms have the meaning ascribed to them in CPC-2-1-23.

5. Radio Station Installations

The licensee must comply with Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-03, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, as amended from time to time.

6. Provision of Technical Information

The licensee must provide Industry Canada with, and maintain, up-to-date technical information on a particular station or network information in accordance with the definitions, criteria, frequency and timelines specified in Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-1-23, Licensing Procedure for Spectrum Licences for Terrestrial Services, as amended from time to time.

7. Compliance with Legislation, Regulations and other Obligations

The licensee is subject to, and must comply with, the Radiocommunication Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, as amended from time to time. The licensee must use the assigned spectrum in accordance with the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations and the spectrum policies applicable to this band, as amended from time to time. The licence is issued on condition that all representations made in relation to obtaining this licence are all true and complete in every respect.

8. Technical Considerations and International and Domestic Coordination

The licensee must comply on an ongoing basis with the technical aspects of the appropriate Radio Standards Specifications (RSS) and Standard Radio System Plans (SRSP), as amended from time to time. Where applicable, the licensee must use its best efforts to enter into mutually acceptable agreements with other parties for facilitating the reasonable and timely development of their respective systems, and to coordinate with other licensed users in Canada and internationally.

The licensee must comply with the obligations arising from current and future frequency coordination agreements established between Canada and other countries and shall be required to provide information or take actions to implement these obligations as indicated in the applicable SRSP. Although frequency assignments are not subject to site licensing, the licensee may be required through the appropriate SRSP to furnish all necessary technical data for each relevant site.

9. Lawful Interception

The licensee operating as telecommunication common carrier using the spectrum for voice telephony systems must, from the inception of service, provide for and maintain lawful interception capabilities as authorized by law. The requirements for lawful interception capabilities are provided in the Solicitor General's Enforcement Standards for Lawful Interception of Telecommunications (Rev. Nov. 95) – SGES. These standards may be amended from time to time.

The licensee may request the Minister of Industry to forbear from enforcing certain assistance capability requirements for a limited period of time. The Minister, following consultation with Public Safety Canada, may exercise the power to forbear from enforcing a requirement or requirements where, in the opinion of the Minister, the requirement is not reasonably achievable. Requests for forbearance must include specific details and dates indicating when compliance to the requirement can be expected.

10. Research and Development (R&D)

The licensee must invest, as a minimum, 2 percent of its adjusted gross revenues resulting from the use of this licence, averaged over the term of the licence, in eligible research and development activities related to telecommunications. Eligible research and development activities are those which meet the definition of scientific research and experimental development adopted in the Income Tax Act, as amended from time to time. Adjusted gross revenues are defined as total service revenues, less inter-carrier payments, bad debts, third party commissions, and provincial goods and services taxes collected. The licensee is exempt from research and development expenditure requirements if it, together with all affiliated licensees that are subject to the research and development condition of licence, has less than $1 billion in annual gross operating revenues from the provision of wireless services in Canada, averaged over the term of the licence. For this condition of licence, an affiliate is defined as a person who controls the carrier, or who is controlled by the carrier or by any person who controls the carrier, as per subsection 35(3) of the Telecommunications Act.

To facilitate compliance with this condition of licence, the licensee should consult the Department's Guidelines for Compliance with the Radio Authorization Condition of Licence Relating to Research and Development (GL-03).

11. Implementation of Spectrum Usage

The licensee must demonstrate to the Minister of Industry, by the end of the extended term, that the spectrum has been put into use. The establishment of eight links per one million population (rounded up to a whole number) within a service area, or some other indicator of usage which is acceptable to the Minister of Industry, is required.

12. Mandatory Antenna Tower and Site Sharing

The licensee operating as telecommunications common carrier must comply with the mandatory roaming requirements set out in Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-17, Conditions of Licence for Mandatory Roaming and Antenna Tower and Site Sharing and to Prohibit Exclusive Site Arrangements, as amended from time to time.

13. Annual Reporting

The licensee must submit an annual report for each year of the licence term, which includes the following information:

  • a statement indicating continued compliance with all conditions of licence;
  • an update on the implementation and spectrum usage within the area covered by the licence;
  • a statement indicating the annual gross operating revenues from the provision of wireless services in Canada, and, where applicable, the annual adjusted gross revenues resulting from the use of this licence, as defined in these conditions of licence;
  • a report of the Research and Development Expenditures for licensees whose annual gross operating revenues exceed $1 billion (the Department reserves the right to request an audited Statement of Research and Development expenditures with an accompanying Auditor's Report);
  • supporting financial statements where a licensee is claiming an exemption based on, together with all affiliated licensees that are subject to the Research and Development condition of licence, it having less than $1 billion in annual gross operating revenues from the provision of wireless services in Canada, averaged over the term of the licence;
  • a copy of any existing corporate annual report for the licensee's fiscal year with respect to the authorization; and
  • other information related to the licence as specified in any notice updating the reporting requirements as issued by Industry Canada.

All reports and statements must be certified by an officer of the company and submitted, in writing, within 120 days of the licensee's fiscal year-end. Confidential information provided will be treated in accordance with section 20(1) of the Access to Information Act.

Reports are to be submitted to Industry Canada at the following address:

Industry Canada
c/o Manager, Emerging Networks (JETN, 15th Floor)
Spectrum Management Operations Branch
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Where a licensee holds multiple licences, spectrum implementation reports should be broken down by licence area. This information, including the extent of implementation and spectrum usage, is important for reasons such as the analysis of each licensee's individual performance against its conditions of licence, monitoring the effectiveness of these conditions in meeting the policy objectives of the band, and Industry Canada's intention that the spectrum be deployed in a timely manner for the benefit of Canadians.

14. Amendments

The Minister of Industry retains the discretion to amend these terms and conditions of licence at any time.

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