Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band — Annex A

Posted on Industry Canada website: December 18, 2014


1. Intent

Through the release of this document, Industry Canada is hereby initiating a consultation on repurposing spectrum in the 600 MHz band, as announced in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Notice No. SLPB-005-14. Comments are being sought on all aspects related to the repurposing of this band.


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 policies for spectrum resources 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. It should be noted that broadcasting policy falls within the responsibility of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting system to ensure that the objectives of the Broadcasting Act are met.


4. Scope

This consultation addresses issues related to the repurposing of spectrum in the 600 MHz band to mobile use. Current users include over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasting, remote rural broadband systems (RRBS), low-power apparatus (e.g. wireless microphones and camera systems), television white space (TVWS) devices and wireless medical telemetry systems (WMTS). This spectrum is also used for radio astronomy service (RAS). Industry Canada is not considering any change to the allocation of spectrum to the RAS (band 608-614 MHz) at this time.

Throughout this paper, the term “600 MHz band” refers to the frequency range considered for the repurposing from TV broadcasting to mobile services, extending from 698 MHz to a lower limit, which is yet to be determined. The amount of spectrum repurposed to commercial mobile could be between 20 and 120 MHz.

This consultation is required in order to determine the use of the band and whether Canada will participate in a joint repurposing initiative along with the United States. This first step focuses on the technical aspects of repurposing spectrum currently used for broadcasting and other purposes. Should the Department proceed with this initiative, an implementation plan that determines which stations would be required to move and lists the associated timelines would be established after the U.S. incentive auction is completed. The policy and the technical and licensing rules pertaining to the repurposed mobile spectrum would be established in the context of a future separate consultation process. Some details about the expected implications and timing of that separate process are included in this document.


5. Policy Objectives

In developing a policy and licensing framework to make additional spectrum available, the Department is guided by the policy objectives of the Telecommunications Act and the policy objective of the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (SPFC), which is to  maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from the use of the radio frequency spectrum resource.


6. Policy Considerations

6.1 Demand for Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

Commercial mobile services provide wide-area ubiquitous radiocommunication services for both business and personal use. In recent years, consumers in Canada and around the globe have increasingly demanded extended coverage, faster data transmission rates and more advanced, data-intensive mobile applications. In response, service providers deployed ubiquitous, high-capacity radio networks based on state-of-the-art technologies. This global trend towards increasing demand for data-intensive content and applications is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, and world-class, competitive mobile wireless networks and services will continue to be critical to success in the global digital economy. Smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, machine-to-machine devices and the apps that run on them are changing the way that Canadians work, live and play. In Canada, data usage for these devices is growing, and mobile data traffic is expected to grow 9-fold from 2013 to 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 54%.Footnote 1 To address these challenges, Canada must allocate sufficient spectrum to mobile broadband use.

Various projections have estimated that Canada will require at least 473 MHz and as much as 820 MHz of spectrum to be allocated to commercial mobile services by 2017. Based on these projections, in the Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook report issued in March 2013, Industry Canada set an objective of allocating a total of 750 MHz of spectrum to commercial mobile services by the end of 2017. To date, Industry Canada has been active in allocating more spectrum for commercial mobile use, through the 700 MHz auction in 2014 and the upcoming auctions for the AWS-3 and 2500 MHz bands. Beyond these, the Commercial Mobile Spectrum Outlook identified additional spectrum from other bands, including the 600 MHz band.

Since 2008, new wireless carriers have entered the market offering new services to Canadians and average wireless prices have fallen by 22%. Canadian carriers have continued to invest in networks and today 99% of Canadians have access to high-speed packet access plus (HSPA+) networks and 81% live in an area with long-term evolution (LTE). At the same time, Canadian wireless subscribership is continuing to grow and consumers continue to increase their use of smartphones and tablets, driving demand for data services and increasing wireless network traffic.Footnote 2 In 2014, the CRTC reported that wireless revenues now account for approximately 50% of all telecommunications revenue.Footnote 3

6.2 Over-the-air (OTA) TV Broadcasting Spectrum

The TV broadcasting bands currently occupy the frequency ranges 54-72 MHz, 76-88 MHz, 174-216 MHz (VHF) and 470-698 MHz (UHF). The TV broadcasting system is comprised of regular power TV stations (also referred to as primary TV broadcasting undertakings) and low-power TV undertakings (also referred to as LPTV stations), which operate on a no-interference, no-protection basis relative to the regular power TV stations. In addition to TV broadcasting, the TV bands are used on a secondary basis (i.e. on a no-interference, no-protection basis) for low-power apparatus (including wireless microphone applications and wireless cameras) and RRBS. There is a policy and technical framework for TVWS devices.Footnote 4 However, as the technical specifications have not yet been established, there are currently no TVWS devices that are operational. Annex A provides additional details about the licensed TV broadcasting systems operating in these bands.

Pursuant to the DTV transition, which was planned in coordination with the United States, the Canadian TV broadcasting system is currently deployed based on the Digital Television (DTV) Post-Transition Allotment Plan (the Plan), published by Industry Canada in 2008. The Plan identifies a DTV channel for each regular power National Television System Committee (NTSC) station (i.e. analog) in operation on July 1, 2008, and for planned stations for which applications were received by the CRTC before July 1, 2008. Standalone (vacant) allotments are also provided in the Plan to support future growth in OTA TV service.

The broadcasting industry is currently in transition. Both the viewing habits of Canadians and the Canadian television system are changing in many ways and at a rapid pace. While Canadians increasingly watch video programming online, they also continue to watch television through cable, satellite or OTA. The Department notes that the CRTC recently concluded its hearing as part of the Let's Talk TV process on the future of Canadian television. A review of the role of OTA television in fostering local programming has been one aspect of the discussions. In its April 2014 Notice of Consultation, the CRTC noted that given the high subscription rates to cable and satellite providers in most markets, few Canadians rely on television signals over the air.Footnote 5 Industry Canada recognizes that the regulatory environment addressing OTA TV broadcasting is complex and any changes that are undertaken may be implemented over many years.

6.3 Status in the United States

Under U.S. legislation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was directed to conduct an incentive auction for the 600 MHz band, currently scheduled to take place in early 2016. The incentive auction is designed to facilitate the repurposing of spectrum by encouraging TV broadcasters to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their spectrum usage rights in exchange for proceeds from an auction of the new mobile licences.Footnote 6

The amount of spectrum that will be subsequently made available for mobile services will depend on the willingness of the U.S. broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum, as well as the outcome of the wireless industry's bidding on this newly available spectrum. TV stations remaining on air will be assigned channels in the lower portion of broadcast bands (UHF and VHF) so that they occupy less spectrum, making contiguous spectrum available for mobile services.Footnote 7

6.4 Opportunity to Repurpose the 600 MHz Band From Broadcasting to Mobile

The Department recognizes that the TV broadcasting spectrum has historically been planned jointly with the United States to maximize coverage for consumers in both countries and minimize interference that could otherwise affect the use of broadcasting frequencies in Canada. Similarly, Canada has traditionally aligned its mobile broadband spectrum allocations with other large countries or economic areas, in particular the United States.  This facilitates access to the latest wireless devices and network technologies that are only built at competitive prices where there is sufficient scale.

There is an opportunity for Canada to repurpose the 600 MHz band by participating in a joint initiative with the United States. Doing so would see both countries benefit from the reallocation as the repacking would take into consideration broadcasters on both sides of the border, resulting in a more efficient reassignment of broadcasting channels and more spectrum being made available for mobile services in both countries. The decision on whether to join the United States in the repacking initiative must be made before the incentive auction, so that the joint repacking algorithm can integrate the Canadian TV stations into the incentive auction process and parameters.

Industry Canada's view is that such a joint initiative would be advantageous for Canada in that new channels can be ensured for virtually all existing Canadian OTA TV stations. The amount of spectrum to be made available for mobile services is expected to be between 20 and 120 MHz, and the actual amount will depend on the results of the U.S. auction. Entering into a joint repacking process with the United States would be based on set objectives to ensure that Canadians can achieve maximum benefits with minimum disruption of broadcast services.

Conversely, separate repurposing by the United States and Canada through independent repacking processes, possibly at different times, would result in significantly less efficient use of this valuable spectrum for both countries. The amount of spectrum repurposed by the United States incentive auction would likely be reduced if the United States repacked on its own. As Canada typically harmonizes the use of spectrum for mobile broadband with the United States, this would also lead to less spectrum being available for commercial mobile services in Canada. The continued operation of Canadian OTA TV stations near the border would be protected, as the United States repacking plan would work around the existing Canadian OTA TV stations as necessary.

However, should Canada later decide to repurpose the band, there would likely be insufficient space remaining in the lower channels to which Canadian stations could relocate. As a result, some Canadian stations would likely need to be shut down. The overall result would be fewer OTA TV stations broadcasting and less spectrum for mobile services for both countries.

As described in Section 8 the joint repacking process is expected to impact virtually all OTA television broadcasters, including those operating in the VHF and UHF band below the frequencies to be repurposed to mobile use.

There are also secondary users of the spectrum, such as RRBS, wireless microphone and camera systems, as well as TVWS devices (not yet deployed in Canada). Proposed transition policies for each of these services are provided in the sections that follow.

The Department is proposing to repurpose the 600 MHz spectrum to commercial mobile use and jointly establish a new allotment plan based on repacking OTA TV broadcasting stations more tightly in lower frequencies. This initiative would be carefully established, with a view to providing the maximum opportunity for continuing all existing OTA TV transmitters while ensuring that the need for additional commercial mobile spectrum is carefully balanced with the current needs of the broadcast industry and the interests of Canadian consumers in being able to benefit from both services.

The completion of the incentive auction would result in a new allotment plan for both Canada and the United States. A relocation schedule enabling the transition would then be established.

Question 1:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the overall proposal of repurposing the band to include commercial mobile broadband and the initial step of participating in a joint repacking process with the United States.

Question 2:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the future spectrum requirements for OTA TV broadcasting, taking into consideration the overall changes to the broadcasting industry, and noting that the CRTC Let’s Talk TV hearing recently closed.


7. 600 MHz Band Plan for the Mobile Service

This section covers issues and considerations related to the band plan for the repurposed spectrum in the 600 MHz band for the purposes of licensing and deploying mobile broadband services in an orderly and efficient manner.

In order to provide maximum benefits to consumers of broadband wireless services and to support the growth in bandwidth demand, the band plan architecture for new spectrum for mobile broadband services is generally assessed using the following criteria:

  • promotion of efficient use of the limited radio spectrum by maximizing available capacity;
  • harmonization of equipment specifications to the extent possible, enabling economies of scale, greater equipment availability for consumers and infrastructure, and facilitating international roaming;
  • deployment of infrastructure with reduced capital and operational costs, enabling affordable services to consumers; and
  • cross-border frequency coordination.

7.1 Harmonizing With the U.S. Band Plan

In considering the band plan architecture to be implemented in Canada, the Department is proposing the band plan framework adopted in the United States for the 600 MHz incentive auction, as shown in Figure 1. As the amount of repurposed spectrum will only be determined during the United States incentive spectrum auction, the band plan framework consists of several options for the 600 MHz band plan, based on repurposing between 42 and 144 MHz of broadcast spectrum and resulting in between 20 and 120 MHz of commercial mobile spectrum.

Figure 1 — Proposed 600 MHz Band Plan Options

Figure 1 — Proposed 600 MHz Band Plan Options (the long description is located below the image)
Description of Figure 1

This figure shows the proposed band plan scenarios for each of the clearing targets in repurposing the 600 MHz band. For each scenario, the uplink band starts at 698 MHz, which is immediately adjacent to the 700 MHz uplink band, and extends lower in frequency between 10 and 60 MHz. The paired downlink band is separated from the uplink by a center gap of 11 MHz and from the television operations by guard bands varying between 3 to 11 MHz.  Each TV channel is 6 MHz and each mobile block is comprised of 5 MHz. From line six to 11, there is also a 3 MHz guard band between a mobile block and channel 37, which is used for RAS.

Line Sets of paired blocks Amount of repurposed spectrum (MHz) Guard band (MHz)
1 2 42 11
2 3 48 7
3 4 60 9
4 5 72 11
5 6 78 7
6 7 84 3
7 8 106 11
8 9 114 7
9 10 126 9
10 11 138 11
11 12 144 7

Duplexing method. The band plan framework is based on frequency division duplex (FDD), with specified transmission directions. The building blocks for the band plan are paired 5 + 5 MHz blocks, consistent with the commonly used 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) LTE technology. The uplink band starts at 698 MHz and extends lower in frequency between 10 and 60 MHz, depending on the amount of repurposed spectrum. For all band plan options, the paired downlink band is separated from the uplink by a centre gap of 11 MHz. The duplexing distance ranges from 21 MHz for the smallest band plan option to 83 MHz for the largest one. As no changes are envisioned for the spectrum use in TV channel 37 (608-614 MHz), the band plan options repurposing more than 84 MHz skip this frequency range. As a result, the duplexing distance for these band plans is not the same for all paired blocks.

Guard bands. No guard band would be required between the 600 MHz and 700 MHz bands, as frequencies on both sides of the 698 MHz boundary would be used for mobile broadband uplink, with similar transmission parameters. For the band plan options extending down to channel 37 (608-614 MHz) or beyond, 3 MHz guard bands would be provisioned on both sides of the 608-614 MHz range for the protection of the users in this band, namely RAS and WMTS. Should the 600 MHz band be repurposed and this band plan adopted, technical rules (such as out-of-band emission limits, geographical protection areas, etc.) may be put in place to ensure the protection of WMTS and RAS. A guard band of at least 7 MHz separates the 600 MHz downlink from the TV operations. The TV channel grid is based on 6 MHz increments, whereas the mobile band plan is based on 5 MHz building blocks, so the size of the guard band between mobile and TV operations varies between 7 and 11 MHz for different band plan options. A summary of the amount of repurposed TV spectrum for each option availabl e for auction and used for guard bands and centre gap is provided in Table 1.

Table 1 – Summary of Repurposed Spectrum for 600 MHz Band Plan Options
Spectrum to be Repurposed Mobile Broadband Spectrum for Auction Duplex Gap Guard Bands (Total)
TV channels MHz Paired 5 + 5 MHz blocks MHz MHz MHz
7 42 2 20 11 11
8 48 3 30 11 7
10 60 4 40 11 9
12 72 5 50 11 11
13 78 6 60 11 7
14 84 7 70 11 3
18 108 8 80 11 17
19 114 9 90 11 13
21 126 10 100 11 15
23 138 11 110 11 17
24 144 12 120 11 13

While the specific band plan option to be used for the 600 MHz band will not be known until after the incentive auction in the United States, it would be beneficial for Canada to adopt this framework, and commit to harmonize with the band plan option to be adopted by the United States. The band plan option to be chosen is tied to the amount of spectrum to be repurposed. If Canada adopts the same band plan configuration as the United States (and repurposes the same amount of spectrum), cross-border interference and frequency coordination challenges would be limited, thus facilitating deployment of services in the border areas. As well, Canadian spectrum users would have access to a wider supply of wireless equipment at lower costs.

Timing for a Canadian decision on the band plan. For planning purposes, the decision on the band plan to be adopted by Canada (including the amount of spectrum to be auctioned for mobile) must be made before the execution of the incentive auction in the United States, so that Canadian TV stations to be protected and the associated target spectrum where they can be assigned channels can be included in the parameters for the U.S. incentive auction and the algorithm for joint repacking of the TV stations in Canada and the United States. If the intent is to harmonize with the U.S. band plan and repurpose the same amount of spectrum, Canada must adopt the entire band plan framework and preapprove the band plan option that will result at the conclusion of the incentive auction.

Question 3:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the Department's proposal to:

  • adopt the U.S. 600 MHz band plan framework; and
  • commit to repurpose the same amount of spectrum as the United States, as determined in the FCC's incentive auction.

7.2 Coexistence Between Mobile and TV Services

Notwithstanding Industry Canada's proposal to harmonize the 600 MHz band plan with the United States, the Department is evaluating the appropriate measures to ensure coexistence and interference-free operation between the TV broadcasting and mobile services. It should be noted that the guard band between TV broadcasting and mobile services does not necessarily need to be the same in Canada and in the United States. If considered appropriate, Canada could ensure a larger guard band between TV broadcasting and mobile services by repurposing one or more additional TV channels.

As described in paragraph 29, the guard band between TV broadcasting and mobile broadband services would be between 7 and 11 MHz for various options of the proposed 600 MHz band plan. The size of the guard band must be determined based on the requirements to protect against out-of-band and in-band interference, specifically, protecting: (a) mobile terminal receivers from TV interference; and (b) TV receivers from interference from mobile base station transmissions. The underlying assumption regarding typical deployments for TV and mobile broadband services is that both are addressed to the general public in a ubiquitous fashion, so geographic separation cannot be employed to mitigate the potential for interference. In developing the proposed guard band configuration, the out-of-band emission characteristics for mobile base stations, as well as the selectivity parameters for mobile terminals, were assumed to be in line with 3GPP LTE specifications. The out-of-band emissions from TV transmitters are assumed to comply with the regulatory emission mask for regular power DTV assignments. The selectivity parameters for TV receivers were based on the ATSC A/74 standard for the first adjacent channel. It should be noted that, consistent with the OET Bulletin No. 69, Longley-Rice Methodology for Evaluating TV Coverage and Interference (OET-69) planning document, TV reception in the United States is not protected from out-of-band interference beyond the first adjacent TV channel.

Question 4:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the size of the proposed guard band between the TV broadcasting and mobile services.

  • Is the mobile service appropriately protected by the proposed guard band?
  • Is the TV broadcasting service appropriately protected by the proposed guard band?
  • If additional protection measures are needed, what alternatives (such as increasing the size of the guard band, adding a pass band/notch filter at the TV receiver port, etc.) could be used and what alternatives would be practical to deploy?

7.3 Spectrum Utilization Policy for Guard Bands and Duplex Gap

As shown in Table 1, depending on the band plan option, between 14 and 28 MHz of spectrum represents the sum of the duplex gap and the guard bands between services and may be available for other uses. This spectrum could only be used for low-power applications to avoid interference to services in adjacent frequencies. Currently, several applications use or are in the planning stages of using the UHF band, including the 600 MHz range, on a secondary basis, namely low-power apparatus (e.g. wireless microphones and camera systems), RRBS and TVWS devices. All these applications would be affected by the repurposing of the 600 MHz band for mobile broadband services. In the United States, these frequency ranges have been identified for the use of low-power auxiliary stations and TVWS devices. It is expected that the spectrum identified for the guard bands and duplex gap will also be identified for its use in Canada.  

Given that the exact frequency ranges for the guard bands and duplex gap will only be known after the conclusion of the U.S. incentive auction, the detailed spectrum policy and licensing framework for the applications in these bands will be addressed in a separate consultation. At that time, consideration would be given to harmonization of technical requirements with the United States in order to ensure that the same equipment can be used in both countries.


8. Transition Policy for Current Users of the Band

As described below, the repurposing of the 600 MHz band would affect the current users of spectrum in this band, as well as virtually all spectrum users of the other frequency bands currently allocated for TV broadcasting. The following sections discuss and seek input on the proposed transition policies for these spectrum users.

All broadcasting and radiocommunication systems currently operating in the 600 MHz range of the UHF band would be subject to displacement, as spectrum sharing between these services and mobile broadband service would not be feasible.

To ensure continued availability of channels for all operating Canadian regular power TV stations, as described in Section 8.1, most Canadian regular power stations may be reassigned to new TV channels. As a result of the changes to the regular power TV stations, secondary TV stations (low-power) and other users of the band for secondary services (wireless microphones, RRBS, TVWS devices) may, in turn, be subject to displacement, even if not operating in the 600 MHz frequency range.

8.1 Transition Policy for Regular Power Television Broadcasting Undertakings

In repurposing the 600 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband services, Industry Canada would enter into an agreement with the FCC to ensure availability of TV channels for all regular power TV stations currently in operation, minimizing the impact on OTA TV reception for all TV viewers.

Studies indicate that the current Digital Television (DTV) Post-Transition Allotment Plan cannot accommodate the relocation of the TV undertakings presently operating in the 600 MHz range. The vacant allotments available in the current Plan are generally not located in the markets of interest where the relocating TV stations would need channels in the VHF band or the lower part of the UHF band. New entries could not be added to the Plan, as they would conflict with regular power TV assignments either in Canada or in the coordination zone in the United States. On the other hand, as described in Section 6.4, there is an opportunity for the governments of Canada and the United States to work jointly to develop a revised, spectrally efficient DTV allotment plan. The Canadian design objectives for the new allotment plan would be: (1) to be spectrally efficient, i.e. enable the repurposing of the maximum amount of spectrum for mobile broadband; (2) to ensure available channels for all operating regular power TV stations in Canada; and (3) to minimize impacts on OTA TV reception.

Efficient use of spectrum. TV licensing data shows that the number of TV undertakings in Canada has been static in recent years. However, strong growth in demand for mobile data services is resulting in continued pressure for more spectrum to be made available for mobile services. Provisioning vacant TV allotments for future growth would bring no obvious benefits, as the OTA TV service is not growing, and would directly limit the amount of spectrum repurposed for mobile broadband. The Department is proposing to not include any vacant allotments for future use in the allotment plan. If needed, in each market area, future growth of OTA TV services may be accommodated on a case by case basis, possibly with reduced transmission power.

Similar to the current Digital Television (DTV) Post-Transition Allotment Plan, the revised allotment plan would not accommodate the NTSC service (i.e. analog). This would also enable a spectrally efficient operation of the TV broadcasting system, as the DTV transmission is more robust against interference and enables a more compact reuse of the TV channels, in both frequency and geography. The 600 MHz transition may require some consumers to upgrade legacy analog TVs or acquire digital-to-analog converts to continue to receive service. However, it also enables improved quality image for consumers.

The Department notes that most of the regular power TV stations in Canada operate at transmit parameters below the maximum levels permitted by the current Plan. Developing the new allotment plan based on maximum transmit parameters for each TV allotment would be equivalent to locking in unused spectrum for each TV station, spectrum which would be blocked for use permanently if the station never increases its transmit parameters. To maximize the amount of repurposed spectrum, the Department proposes to develop the new allotment plan based on current operating parameters for the TV broadcasting undertakings. The list of regular power TV stations currently operating in Canada, with their operating parameters, is included in Annex A.

Methodology to repack while minimizing impacts to OTA TV service. For the purposes of developing a new DTV allotment plan, the population served by a TV undertaking is defined as the population within the protected area of the TV assignment, as defined in BPR-10, Broadcasting Procedures and Rules Part 10: Application Procedures and Rules for Digital Television (DTV) Undertakings, and excluding the areas where TV reception is not available due to interference from other primary TV assignments. To minimize the impacts on OTA TV reception by the general public, the current population served with a defined level of service should remain the same as much as possible.

The Department proposes that the criteria of feasibility for a primary TV assignment as part of the new DTV allotment plan be that interference generated by the new assignment does not reduce the population currently served by other primary TV assignments (operating on the same channel or adjacent channels) by more than a threshold of approximately 0.5%.

Noise Limited Bounding Contour (NLBC) replication. When a TV station is assigned to a different channel, its transmit power and antenna pattern may need to be modified to preserve the station's coverage area. However, due to varying propagation characteristics of different channels, there may be some small differences in the geographic location of the station's new NLBC. In determining the effective radiated power (ERP) for the new operating channel, the Department proposes to assume for planning purposes that the station continues to use its existing antenna pattern and adjusts its power level such that the total area within the NLBC remains the same.

TV stations still operating in NTSC mode. For the stations currently operating in NTSC mode, the Department proposes to assume the following method to determine the ERP for the new DTV assignment: (Step 1) The station is assumed to operate in DTV mode, using the associated channel as allotted in the current Digital Television (DTV) Post-Transition Allotment Plan, with an ERP that would result in a DTV contour with a predicted availability of 90% of locations and 90% of the time, which will be closely matching the current Grade B contour. (Step 2) The ERP of the resulting DTV station is then adjusted, such that its NLBC contour is replicated for the new channel assigned in the new DTV allotment plan, as described in paragraph 49.

The planning parameters and technical assumptions proposed for the calculation of the NLBC, the protected areas and the interference levels between TV assignments are listed in Annex C. These parameters are in line with the technical parameters currently prescribed in BPR-10.Footnote 8

The new allotment plan will be determined as an output of the incentive auction process in the United States, as it will depend on how many U.S. broadcasters decide to participate in the incentive auction and return the spectrum that they currently possess. The plan will include allotments for all Canadian operating TV stations, with parameters to be determined as described in paragraphs 44 to 48. The allotment plan will become the basis for the broadcasting systems in both countries. While the joint repacking process would be expected to impact virtually all OTA television broadcasters, including those operating in the VHF and UHF band below the frequencies to be repurposed to mobile use, it is expected that Canadian stations would not be required to change the band that they are operating in whether it be UHF, High VHF or Low VHF (for example, a TV station currently operating in the UHF band would be assigned a new operating channel in the UHF band, etc.).

8.1.1 Implementation Plan

All regular power TV undertakings currently operating in the 600 MHz range would be assigned new TV channels in the revised DTV allotment plan. Based on the data currently available to the Department, it is expected that in the new allotment plan, most of the other TV undertakings, operating in both UHF and VHF bands, would also be assigned new TV channels.

Regular power TV undertakings currently operating in the 600 MHz band to be repurposed could in principle continue to operate on current channels until the spectrum is needed for the deployment of mobile broadband services. Domestically, the licensing for mobile services in this range is not expected before 2017.

Regular power TV undertakings currently operating outside of the 600 MHz band to be repurposed would likely need to relocate to newly assigned channels and possibly operate temporarily with modified parameters, as defined in the implementation plan for the new DTV allotment plan. The details on the implementation of the transition to the new DTV allotment plan can only be developed after the new allotment plan becomes available following the U.S. incentive auction. The new DTV allotment plan, like the current one, will be tightly integrated between the two countries. The timing and the implementation of the transition to the new DTV allotment plan would need to be coordinated between Canada and the United States to avoid or manage cross-border interference. As a result, timelines for Canadian licensees should be similar to the U.S. timelines. Based on specific timelines set in U.S. legislation, the FCC has mandated a deadline of 39 months after the conclusion of the incentive auction for the transition of all stations to their new channels.

The principles governing the transition plan could make use either of strict time sequencing and coordination to avoid any conflicts between stations operating on old and new channel assignments, or employ provisions for temporary operation with a reduced level of service (with reduced parameters or at increased interference levels). It is expected that the transition plan would require some Canadian TV stations to start operating on new channels as early as 2017; some stations in the United States and Canada may need to operate in the interim at reduced power levels and/or accept additional interference.

It is recognized that changing the channel of operation for a regular power TV station is a complex task, requiring significant engineering resources, time for planning and equipment procurement, etc. The Department proposes that all regular power TV undertakings which need to relocate to a new channel assignment in the new DTV allotment plan be provided a minimum notification period of 18 months after the implementation plan is finalized.

Question 5:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the proposed transition policy for the regular power TV stations, including but not limited to

  • the design objectives for the development of the new DTV allotment plan;
  • the methodology and parameters to ensure minimal impact to TV reception;
  • the minimum notification period for the relocation to the new DTV assignments; and
  • the overall timing for the transition to the new DTV allotment plan.

8.2 Transition Policy for Low-Power Television Broadcasting Undertakings

As mentioned earlier, LPTV broadcasters operate on a no-interference, no-protection basis relative to the regular power TV stations. Impacts on LPTV stations will differ depending on whether they are within or outside the repurposed spectrum. As of October 24, 2014, there are 551 LPTV broadcasting undertakings (stations) authorized in Canada. The list of these stations, including their operating parameters, is provided in Annex A. It is expected that new channels of operation would be available for virtually all LPTV broadcasting undertakings.

As of October 24, 2014, there are 18 LPTV stations operating in the 700 MHz band (698-806 MHz, or TV channels 52 to 69). The 700 MHz band was auctioned for mobile broadband services in January 2014. In accordance with spectrum policy decision SMSE-002-12, Policy and Technical Framework: Mobile Broadband Services (MBS) — 700 MHz Band, Broadband Radio Service (BRS) — 2500 MHz Band,  the LPTV stations operating in this range are subject to displacement by Industry Canada if it is determined that the continued operation of the LPTV station will interfere with the new mobile broadband services.

As set out in Section 10, effective immediately, a moratorium is in place for new LPTV broadcast certificate applications, or applications that seek approval for modification of existing broadcast certificates resulting in changes to channel assignment or increased coverage in any direction.

LPTV stations within the 600 MHz band. Similar to the transition policy for LPTVs operating in the 700 MHz band, the Department proposes that a transition policy for the LPTV stations currently operating in the 600 MHz band be based on the displacement of incumbents on a “where necessary” basis. The continued operation of existing LPTV systems would be permitted on their current channels if it does not prevent the deployment of new broadband mobile systems. LPTV station licensees would be afforded a notification period before displacement following the licensing of new services in the 600 MHz band.

The Department proposes that the displacement of the incumbent LPTV stations operating in the 600 MHz band be subject to a notification period of one year for LPTV stations located in urban areas and along highway corridors, and a period of two years for LPTV stations in all other areas. The Department would issue a displacement notification only after it determines that continued operation of the incumbent LPTV station would impede the deployment of new licensed systems in the 600 MHz band.

Question 6:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the proposed transition policy for LPTV undertakings in the spectrum to be repurposed to mobile use.

LPTVs operating outside the 700 MHz and 600 MHz bands. LPTV undertakings operate on secondary TV channel assignments on the basis of not causing interference to, and not receiving protection from, regular power TV stations. As most of the regular power TV stations will change channels of operation, it is expected that a significant number of the LPTV stations operating in the VHF and UHF bands outside the 600 MHz range would also be affected by the repacking. Some LPTV stations may receive interference from regular power TV stations, or may need to change operating parameters (including channel of operation) to ensure protection of regular power TV stations operating on new channels in accordance with the new DTV allotment plan.

As with the regular power TV stations, the changes required for LPTV stations and the timing of their implementation can only be determined once the new DTV allotment plan has been finalized after the U.S. incentive auction. Should the 600 MHz band be repurposed and a new DTV allotment plan developed, the Department would endeavour to assist in finding new channels of operation for LPTV stations subject to displacement. It is expected that new channels of operation, which would maintain a coverage level similar to the current one, would be available for virtually all LPTV broadcasting undertakings.

Consistent with the Industry Canada Advisory Letter, dated September 26, 2006, broadcasting certificates for the LPTV undertakings switching to new channels will be issued for digital transmission only. The LPTV stations currently broadcasting in analog mode and which are found to be able to continue to operate on their current TV channels, could continue to operate in analog mode until further notice.

It is proposed that the Department would advise all LPTV stations of their status and projected displacement date within six months of the close of the U.S. incentive auction. LPTV station owners should ensure that their contact information with the Department is current.

Question 7:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the proposed transition policy for LPTV undertakings below the 600 MHz band.


9. Transition Policy for Other Current Users

9.1 Remote Rural Broadband Systems (RRBS)

RRBS are communication systems that provide broadband to remote rural communities in Canada, using unused TV broadcasting channels (channels 21-51, excluding channel 37) in locations that are more than 121 km from the Canada–United States border and at a sufficient distance from major population centres. The policy decision to allow RRBS in Canada was established in Radio Systems Policy RP-006, Policy for the Use of 700 MHz Systems for Public Safety Applications and Other Limited Use of Broadcasting Spectrum, published in June 2006. RRBS licences include restrictions on operating near the border, near cities and on frequencies that create interference with TV broadcasting operations. They are not permitted to cause interference to, and are not protected from interference from, licensed broadcast operations.

In 2012, the Department released the document Framework for the Use of Certain Non-broadcasting Applications in the Television Broadcasting Bands Below 698 MHz on the introduction of TVWS devices in the bands below 698 MHz, which included a decision to continue to issue and renew licences for RRBS. However, the decision also indicated that, should changes occur to TV broadcast spectrum below 698 MHz, this process may need to be revisited.

As set out in Section 10, a moratorium is now in place for new RRBS applications, or RRBS applications that seek approval for modification of frequencies or increased coverage in any direction.

As of October 24, 2014, there are 83 RRBS stations as listed in Annex B. The impacts of 600 MHz spectrum reallocation on RRBS would not be known until after the U.S. auction. At this time, it is expected that most of the RRBS would need to change parameters (channel of operation and/or transmitted power, etc.) and virtually all will be accommodated with spectrum in the broadcasting frequencies.

The RRBS operating on frequencies in the 600 MHz range could continue to operate until the spectrum is needed for the deployment of mobile broadband systems. The Department proposes a transition policy for the RRBS currently operating in the 600 MHz range based on displacement, on an “as-necessary” basis. The operation of existing RRBS would continue to be permitted on a secondary basis (i.e. no-interference, no-protection) relative to the new mobile broadband systems. It is proposed that RRBS station licensees operating on frequencies within the 600 MHz band be afforded a notification period of two years (consistent with LPTV stations in rural areas) before displacement following the licensing of mobile services in Canada. A displacement notification would be issued by Industry Canada only after a technical determination is made, concluding that continued operation of the RRBS station would impede the deployment of new licensed systems in the 600 MHz band.

Should the 600 MHz band be repurposed and a new DTV allotment plan developed, the RRBS operating on frequencies outside the 600 MHz range would be impacted by the reorganization of the TV broadcasting assignments for regular and low-power TV stations. The details of these impacts would be driven by the implementation plan for TV repacking, which would be developed after the conclusion of the U.S. incentive auction, as described in paragraph 52. Depending on the location of the RRBS station in relation to the new allotment plan which is likely to be within the UHF band, stations would have varying advance notice displacement, as each RRBS station would only be required to vacate the spectrum in time for a specific broadcaster's relocation into those frequencies. In limited circumstances, this may result in a short displacement notification period if the RRBS operator is operating on frequencies required in the initial stages of the broadcasting repacking plan. Once the implementation plan has been established, RRBS licensees would be advised of the likely timelines for relocation and possible options for new frequencies. The Department would assist in finding new channels of operations for RRBS stations. It is expected that new channels of operation in the UHF TV band, providing a coverage level similar to the current one, would be available for the majority of RRBS stations. However, it is possible that, in some cases, spectrum within the UHF band may not be available. To increase channel availability for current RRBS operations, Industry Canada proposes to increase the spectrum range where the channels for RRBS can be reassigned, by also adding the 470-512 MHz range (TV channels 14-20) to the frequency band where RRBS are allowed to operate.

Question 8:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the proposed transition policy for RRBS.

9.2 Low-Power Apparatus, Including Wireless Microphones and Camera Systems

The use of wireless microphones and camera systems, on both a licensed and licence-exempt basis, is currently permitted in the VHF bands (54-72 MHz, 76-88 MHz, 174-216 MHz) and the UHF band (470-698 MHz). Following the Department's decision to allow the use of TVWS devices (see SMSE-012-12), TV band wireless microphone and camera operators were able to apply for a licence to ensure interference protection from TVWS devices. As set out in Section 10, a moratorium is now in place for new applications for licensing for low-power apparatus (i.e. wireless microphones and cameras).

The UHF TV band is widely used by low-power radiocommunication apparatus, including wireless microphones and camera systems. Through spectrum advisory bulletins SAB-001-10 and SAB-001-12, Industry Canada announced that operation of low-power radiocommunication devices, including wireless microphones, would no longer be permitted in the band 698-806 MHz after March 31, 2013. Many of these systems have relocated their frequencies of operation from the 700 MHz band into the TV UHF band below 698 MHz.

If the 600 MHz band is repurposed for mobile broadband systems, low-power apparatus could not operate in this range, due to mutual interference with mobile broadband systems. The use of low-power apparatus will be permitted to continue until the licensing of the new mobile broadband systems, which is not expected to occur before 2017. As the exact frequency range for the 600 MHz band will only be determined after the conclusion of the U.S. incentive auction, a decision on the new frequency range for the certification and operation of all low-power apparatus will be addressed in a separate consultation process, as described in paragraph 35, after the conclusion of the U.S. auction.

The approach taken is expected to align with the United States, so that wireless microphones and cameras can be built for both markets, taking into consideration mobile services and OTA TV.

9.3 TV White Space (TVWS)

The framework for the deployment of TVWS devices in Canada was established through Industry Canada's decision paper SMSE-012-12. As the technical and licensing rules for the deployment of TVWS devices are not yet finalized, there are no deployments in Canada. Also, the TVWS devices are adaptive and operate based on interference avoidance, and it is expected that the repurposing of a portion of the UHF TV band would not impact these systems. Although repacking the 600 MHz spectrum band would decrease the amount of TVWS spectrum available, there would still be spectrum available for these devices, especially in rural areas.

9.3.1 Radiocommunication Applications in Channel 37

As shown in Section 7.1, the proposed band plan for mobile systems in the 600 MHz band avoids the use of channel 37 (608-614 MHz). In addition, the band plan includes guard bands for the protection of the users of channel 37 (RAS and WMTS). Should the 600 MHz band be repurposed, technical rules for mobile broadband systems (such as out-of-band emission limits, geographical protection areas, etc.) may be put in place as applicable to ensure the protection of WMTS and RAS. As a result, no impact is expected for these applications operating in channel 37.

Wireless Medical Telemetry Systems. In addition to the band 608-614 MHz, the frequency bands 1395-1400 MHz and 1427-1429.5 MHz were designated specifically for WMTS use, through Industry Canada's decision paper DGTP-006-09. WMTS are also permitted to use the 174-217 MHz and 470-608 MHz bands on a no-interference, no-protection basis. Based on equipment certification data available to the Department, the use of WMTS in TV bands outside of channel 37 is nil or extremely limited. However, considering the significant channel assignment changes possible throughout the VHF and UHF TV bands (174-216 MHz and 470-698 MHz), in order to reduce risk of interference to medical telemetry facilities, the Department is now changing the spectrum utilization policy in regard to the WMTS, as set out below.

Decision 1:
Effective immediately, the bands 216-217 MHz, 608-614 MHz, 1395-1400 MHz and 1427-1429.5 MHz are the only bands designated for use of WMTS. Any medical facilities which may still be using WMTS in the bands 174-216 MHz and 470-608 MHz are advised to take measures to transition to 216-217 MHz, 608-614 MHz, 1395-1400 MHz, and 1427-1429.5 MHz.Footnote 9

The Department’s RSS-210 radio equipment standard will be updated to reflect this decision.


10. Moratorium on New Applications for Licensing

As a result of the considerations and potential changes raised in this consultation, and the possible significant reorganization of the services in the TV broadcasting bands, the Department is now placing a moratorium on new applications for licensing in the TV broadcasting bands. It is expected that the moratorium will be in place until the revised TV allotment plan, spectrum utilization policies for radiocommunication services, and technical and regulatory rules for the TV broadcasting bands become available. Once this process is complete, the licensing moratorium will be lifted on some or all of these services.

Decision 2:
Effective immediately, the Department will no longer accept the following types of applications:

  • new applications for TV broadcasting certificates for all classes of TV stations;
  • applications for modification of an existing TV broadcasting certificate resulting in increasing the coverage in any direction or changing the operating channel;
  • new applications for licensing of RRBS stations;
  • applications for modification of an existing RRBS station which would increase the coverage in any direction or change operating frequencies; and
  • new applications for licensing for low-power apparatus (i.e. wireless microphones and cameras).

11. Changes to Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (Canadian Table) establishes the frequency allocations available for radio services in Canada. While the mobile broadband service is expected to be the primary use of the 600 MHz band, the Department proposes to provide flexible licensing in this frequency range, enabling the deployment of any application under the mobile, fixed or broadcasting services.

To support licensing and deployment of wireless broadband systems in the 600 MHz band, the Department proposes to add co-primary allocations for fixed and mobile services to the frequency ranges 512-608 MHz and 614-698 MHz (corresponding with TV channels 21-51). Note that in the International TableFootnote 10 these frequency ranges already include co-primary allocations to fixed and mobile services for Canada, through footnotes 5.293 and 5.297.

Question 9:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the proposal to update the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations by adding co-primary allocations to fixed and mobile services in the 512-608 MHz and 614-698 MHz ranges.


12. Next Steps

A decision on whether to repack with the United States will be released prior to the start of the U.S. auction. Should the decision be made to proceed with the repurposing of the 600 MHz band jointly with the United States, Industry Canada will consult on the policy and the technical and licensing framework at a later date.


13. Submitting Comments

Respondents are requested to provide their comments in electronic format (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF) to the following email address: spectrum.auctions@ic.gc.ca.

Written submissions should be addressed to the Senior Director, Spectrum Licensing and Auction Operations, Industry Canada, 235 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0H5.

All submissions should cite the Canada Gazette, Part 1, the publication date, the title and the notice reference number (SLPB-005-14). Parties should submit their comments no later than January 26, 2015 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.

Parties should be reminded to avoid submitting confidential information, as all comments will be made available to the public.

Industry Canada will also provide interested parties with the opportunity to reply to comments from other parties. Reply comments will be accepted for the two weeks (14 calendar days) following the publication date of the comments received.

Following the initial comment period, Industry Canada may, at its discretion, request additional information if needed to clarify significant positions or new proposals. In such a case, the reply comment deadline may be extended.


14. 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 process outlined in this document or related matters, contact:

Manager, Spectrum Licensing
Spectrum Licensing Policy Branch
Industry Canada
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0H5

Telephone: 613-617-4437
Email: spectrum.auctions@ic.gc.ca

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