Decision on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band

Posted on Industry Canada website: August 14, 2015

Updated Annex B – List of RRBS Stations as of: September 3, 2015

Contents


1. Intent

Through the release of this paper, Industry Canada hereby announces the decisions resulting from the consultation process undertaken in SLPB-005-14, Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band (hereinafter referred to as the consultation).

All comments and reply comments in response to the consultation are available on Industry Canada's Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website at http://www.ic.gc.ca/spectrum.

Comments and/or reply comments were received from the following broadcasters and broadcaster associations: Bell Mobility & Bell Media (Bell), Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio-Canada, CHCO-TV, Chetwynd Communications Society Community Radio and Television, Eastlink, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, ICTV Independent Community TV Toronto, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Quebecor Media Inc., RNC Media, Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers), Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw), Small Market Independent Television Stations (SMITS) Coalition, La Société de télédiffusion du Québec (STQ), Valemount Entertainment Society & VCTV and Wawatay Native Communications Society.

Comments and/or reply comments were received from the following Internet service providers (ISPs): ABC Communications, Advanced Interactive Inc., Beacon Broadband Inc., CanWISP, Cogeco Cable Inc. (Cogeco), Groupe-Acces Communications, Kennet Inc., Route2, RRI CHOICE Broadband Canada, Slave Lake Communications Ltd., Stafford Communications, Terastream Broadband Inc., Xplornet and YourLink Inc.

Comments and/or reply comments were received from the following other companies and organizations: 400525 Ontario Limited, 6Harmonics, Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC), Ericsson, Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC), MTS Allstream, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI Ontario), Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), Shure Inc. (Shure), TELUS, U.S. Television Coalition and WIND.

Comments and/or reply comments were received from the following individuals and academics: Aldo Campanelli, William Devitt, Dr. Gregory Taylor and Dr. Catherine Middleton, Jeff May, Steven James May, Garry McLay, Merlofast, Francois Simard and Wayne Stacey.


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 related to the use of spectrum resources and for ensuring the 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. Policy Objectives

In managing the radio frequency spectrum, Industry Canada 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.


5. Background

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

5.1 600 MHz Band Users

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

5.2 Demand for Spectrum

The 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 in which 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.Footnote 2 Based on Industry Canada's analysis, an objective was set for 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 various auctions, including the 700 MHz auction in 2014 and the AWS-3 and 2500 MHz auctions in 2015. As of April 2015, the amount of spectrum that has been made available in Canada is 648 MHz. 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. As competition increases, carriers also continue to invest in networks. Today the percentage of Canadians with access to high-speed packet access plus (HSPA+) and long-term evolution (LTE) has grown to 99% and 81% respectively. At the same time, Canadian wireless subscribership is growing and consumers continue to increase their use of smartphones and tablets, driving demand for data services and increasing wireless network traffic.Footnote 3 In 2014, the CRTC reported that wireless revenues now account for approximately 50% of all telecommunications revenue.Footnote 4

It is also important to note that the broadcasting industry is currently in transition. Both the viewing habits of Canadians and the Canadian television system are shifting and evolving. While Canadians increasingly watch video programming online, they also continue to watch television through traditional distribution channels such as cable or satellite. Some Canadians also consider OTA TV services as an inexpensive alternative to cable and satellite television.Footnote 5 Industry Canada notes that the CRTC recently announced decisions in support of continued OTA TV broadcasting, as part of the Let's Talk TV process on the future of Canadian television. It also notes that the broadcasting industry must adapt to evolving technologies and viewing habits.

5.3 Opportunity to Repurpose the 600 MHz Band

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing for 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 OTA TV broadcasters to voluntarily relinquish some or all of their spectrum usage rights in exchange for proceeds from an auction of new mobile licences.Footnote 6

Canada has exclusive jurisdiction over the rules applicable domestically to spectrum management. Canada recognizes that benefits and efficiencies can be achieved through spectrum harmonization, particularly for broadcast and mobile services.

Accordingly, Industry Canada launched a consultation in December 2014 to seek comments on repurposing the 600 MHz band in collaboration with the United States to address the demand for mobile spectrum in Canada. As part of this process, Industry Canada would establish a new allotment plan based on repacking OTA TV broadcasting stations more tightly in lower frequencies.

Specifically, Industry Canada sought comments on these two questions:

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's Let's Talk TV hearing recently closed.

Summary of Comments

Most broadcaster and broadcast organization respondents were generally supportive of the proposed repurposing and repacking of existing 600 MHz services in cooperation with the United States; however, they suggested that the government provide reimbursements to current spectrum users for costs incurred in transitioning to different frequencies. Some of these respondents who were generally supportive of the repurposing also suggested that the government create a fund to support local television. In addition to those that support repurposing, there were some local broadcasters and broadcast organizations that indicated that they were not fully supportive of repurposing if it would result in local broadcasters losing their ability to offer free OTA TV service from community-owned broadcasting services due to not having sufficient space in the new allotment plan or due to incurring costs that force them to shut down. Some respondents also noted the investment already made in the 2011 transition to DTV and questioned the need for repurposing at this point in time.

All Canadian broadcasters who submitted comments highlighted the importance of ensuring there is sufficient spectrum for OTA TV broadcasting. Some of the ISPs and individual and academic respondents also expressed support for maintaining OTA TV.

Most of the rural ISP respondents were supportive but requested that service providers be reimbursed for costs related to moving to new frequencies. Some suggested that all users of the band be accommodated regardless of whether they are primary or secondary users, and suggested that RRBS be permitted to continue to operate until there is a need to relocate.

In addition to those mentioned above, Ericsson, U.S. Television Coalition, Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, MTS Allstream, Sasktel, 400525 Ontario Limited and WIND were generally supportive. MEDEI Ontario and CPSC were only supportive of repurposing if existing users would receive financial support for repacking. PIAC and 6Harmonics were not supportive of repurposing. PIAC was concerned about the overall impact to OTA TV due to the transition costs on the OTA TV broadcasters, the lack of sufficient spectrum for future OTA TV services and costs to consumers. 6Harmonics was concerned that repurposing the 600 MHz band would limit future Canadian technology innovation and economic development.

Of the individuals who submitted comments, most were concerned that they may have access to fewer OTA TV programs after the repacking, including programming from Canada and the United States.

Discussion

This initiative will be undertaken with a view to considering the current and future needs of the broadcast industry and the mobile industry, as well as other users, in addition to protecting the interests of Canadian consumers.

As noted in the consultation paper and supported by the majority of respondents, significant benefits are realized when Canada aligns spectrum use with the United States, particularly when it comes to OTA TV broadcasting (due to the long range of broadcast transmissions and the high percentage of the Canadian population that lives along the Canada-US border) and mobile services (as Canadians would benefit from the economies of scale of the ecosystem developed for the United States). A joint repurposing initiative would result in an allotment plan that is very spectrally efficient and maximizes the amount of spectrum for both broadcast and mobile services in both countries. By taking part in a joint repurposing initiative with the United States, virtually every Canadian broadcaster would be guaranteed a channel in the new allotment plan for its existing stations. It is also expected that rural ISPs would be able to continue to operate either in the broadcast frequencies or in alternate spectrum bands.

If Canada does not repurpose at the same time as the United States, any future repurposing would likely result in the need to displace Canadian OTA TV transmitters in order to clear spectrum for mobile services and at that point, there may not be channels available to which displaced broadcast transmitters could be reassigned. Any future repurposing would also result in less mobile spectrum being made available, compared with the amount which would result from a joint initiative with the United States.

While many respondents were supportive contingent on the costs of relocation being reimbursed, it is important to note that this is the first step of a multi-year process that focuses on the technical aspects of the repurposing of spectrum in the 600 MHz band. Consideration of compensation is not a part of this consultation process.

the following text is bolded

DECISION 1:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada will proceed with the repurposing initiative of the 600 MHz band to include commercial mobile use and jointly establish a new digital TV (DTV) allotment plan based on repacking OTA TV broadcasting stations more tightly in lower frequencies, in collaboration with the United States. Canada and the United States intend to develop an understanding on a set of principles guiding this process. bolded text ends here


6. 600 MHz Band Plan for the Mobile Service

6.1 Harmonizing With the US Band Plan

An essential consideration for the repurposing of UHF TV spectrum for mobile broadband services, and in general for the reorganization of the spectrum use in the UHF band, is the band plan to be adopted for the new uses of the spectrum. The new band plan for mobile services ("the 600 MHz band plan") will determine the amount of spectrum available for commercial mobile services, how they can be deployed, and as well the frequency range where OTA TV broadcasting systems will continue to operate.

In the United States, the FCC adopted a band plan framework ("the US band plan framework") to be used as the basis for the incentive auction. As described in the consultation, if Canada is to proceed with a spectrum repurposing and repacking process jointly with the United States, the frequency range where the OTA TV stations will be repacked is to be determined in real time based on supply and demand for spectrum during the bidding rounds. Hence, before the incentive auction starts, Canada must adopt the entire US band plan framework and commit to repurpose a yet to be determined amount of spectrum (which will be determined by market forces during the incentive auction).

Industry Canada sought comments on this specific question:

Question 3:
Industry Canada is seeking comments on the Department's proposal to: 
  • adopt the US band plan framework; and
  • commit to repurposing the same amount of spectrum as the United States, as determined in the FCC's incentive auction.

Summary of Comments

The majority of respondents who supported the repurposing of OTA TV broadcasting spectrum in the UHF band for mobile broadband services were also supportive of adopting the US band plan framework. The same respondents supported harmonizing the spectrum use with the United States by committing to repurposing the same amount of spectrum, while ensuring that the spectrum needs for the current users of the band in Canada are addressed. Specifically, there was general support for a band plan scheme based on frequency division duplex (FDD), based on 5 + 5 MHz paired blocks, and using a fixed duplex gap of 11 MHz.

TELUS, Shaw, Bell, Rogers and others further proposed that Canada implement measures to ensure that Canadian interests are promoted in the repacking process, for example by ensuring that the mobile spectrum in most heavily-populated regions along Canada's border with the United States remains unimpaired as a result of implementation of market variation (see paragraph 44) in the neighboring US regions.

Cogeco proposed that, regardless of the amount of spectrum to be repurposed in the United States, as a result of the incentive auction, Canada should repurpose at least 100 MHz of spectrum in the upper portion of the UHF band.

In addition to harmonizing the band plan with the United States, Xplornet proposed reserving a minimum of 20 MHz of spectrum in the repurposed frequency range for the exclusive use of fixed wireless access systems.

Stafford Communications and Advanced Interactive Canada were of the view that Canada should adopt the US band plan framework only between 614 and 698 MHz (i.e., above channel 37).

CanWISP, supported by Groupe-Access and Route2, was of the view that it would be contrary to Canada's best interests to adopt the US band plan framework, as the proposed band plan would not address the needs for broadband delivery into rural and remote communities. CanWISP proposed an alternative band plan based on time division duplexing (TDD) or on a flexible duplex scheme not harmonized with the US band plan framework that would repurpose 174 MHz of spectrum in the 518-698 MHz range, resulting in 160 MHz for wireless broadband services. However, CanWISP did note that, if Canada did proceed with coordinating with the FCC, it wants to ensure that there would be optimal use of spectrum resources. In addition to CanWISP and the organizations that supported its proposal, CACTUS was also not supportive of the band plan framework.

Respondents that did not generally support the repurposing of the band either did not support the adoption of the US band plan framework, or did not address the band plan for mobile services in their comments. In general, these respondents questioned the need for additional spectrum for commercial mobile services. PIAC did however request minimal disruption for consumers and active assistance during the transition period, in case Canada did proceed with the repurposing.

Discussion

Harmonized use of spectrum. The wireless telecommunication services sector is heavily impacted by global economic, technical and regulatory influences. Wireless equipment, especially consumer terminal equipment, is highly complex and is manufactured in mass quantities. New products require long development cycles and significant research and development investments. As a result, to sustain a rapid pace of development and to leverage limited development resources, wireless technologies and products are targeted for global or regional markets. Harmonized spectrum allocations are thus required to enable deployment of the latest and most advanced products and technologies.

In this very case, harmonizing the spectrum use with the United States will facilitate Canadian access to the latest wireless devices and network technologies built for their market, ensuring lower costs and wider availability of equipment.

The radio waves in the 600 MHz band have very good propagation characteristics, providing a great advantage for the provision of mobile services, but at the same time increasing the risk of interference at larger distances. A harmonized band plan will greatly limit the possibility of interference between the systems in the two countries, facilitating the frequency coordination process and ensuring that services can be deployed in the proximity of the international border. This is especially important for Canada, taking into consideration that the majority of the Canadian population resides close to the Canada-US international border.

In addition, using a harmonized frequency band plan and the same type of wireless equipment will facilitate with US and Canada roaming. While other commercial mobile bands already provide good support for international roaming between Canada and the United States, the 600 MHz band could provide specific advantages due to its very good propagation characteristics.

Adopting the same band plan for mobile systems as the United States will also result in the harmonized use of spectrum for OTA TV broadcasting. In addition to economies of scale for TV consumer devices, this would minimize inter-service interference in the border areas, contributing to improved deployment conditions for both mobile and broadcasting services.

Market variation. As noted by some commenters, as a possible measure to maximize the amount of repurposed spectrum, the FCC is intending to make TV assignments within the mobile band in specific markets where the broadcasters' participation in the incentive auction is limited. This is referred to as "market variation".

The impact of implementing market variation would be to reduce the amount of mobile spectrum available for deployment. The reduction would be limited to specific geographic and frequency ranges, depending on the location and parameters (operating channel, power) of the interfering TV assignment. However, Industry Canada notes that the Canadian markets that would be potentially affected by market variation are the same markets where the demand for mobile spectrum is the greatest (such as southern Ontario, southern Quebec and southern British Columbia).

Implementing market variation in Canada would substantively reduce the amount of available mobile broadband spectrum in the areas where it is needed most. A similar impact would occur if market variation was implemented near the border areas in the United States since it would create impairments to specific frequency ranges and geographic areas in Canada.

DECISION 2:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada will be adopting the band plan framework, depicted in Figure 1, as the basis for repurposing the 600 MHz band in Canada.

DECISION 3:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada has decided that the amount of spectrum to be repurposed in Canada and the 600 MHz band plan for mobile services will be the same as the band plan option adopted in the United States as a result of the incentive auction.

DECISION 4:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada has decided that no market variation will be implemented in Canada. In addition, Industry Canada will work with the FCC to ensure that market variation implementation in the United States includes due consideration of the impact of such impairments to the deployment of commercial mobile services in the 600 MHz band in Canada.the bolded text ends here

Figure 1 — 600 MHz Band Plan Framework for Canada
Figure 1 — 600 MHz Band Plan Framework for Canada (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 6 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

6.2 Coexistence of Mobile and OTA TV Services

Guard bands are needed to ensure that the mobile and OTA TV services can be deployed free of interference. While guard bands are provisioned in the US band plan framework, Canada could implement larger frequency separations if needed while still maintaining harmonized use of spectrum with the United States. This could be achieved by avoiding assignments to TV stations in the last TV channel adjacent to the guard band.

Industry Canada sought comments on these specific questions:

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?

Summary of Comments

The majority of respondents who provided comments to this issue indicated that, in their view, the proposed guard bands were sufficient to protect mobile and television services. A number of respondents suggested that Industry Canada undertake a further technical consultation with the Radio Advisory Board of Canada concerning the size of the required guard bands.

Virtually every respondent who addressed this question also indicated that any additional protection measures requiring that further hardware be installed by TV viewers, such as a receive filter, would be impractical and would not be recommended.

CanWISP was the sole respondent who indicated that receive antennas outfitted with filters and subsidized by the new users of the band may be required in some areas. CanWISP further noted that such antennas for consumer use are available in other countries where similar spectrum repurposing from OTA TV broadcasting to mobile service had been implemented; however, the costs were not subsidized.

The broadcasters who addressed this issue are of the view that any measure, including the related costs, that may be required to provide protection from interference between mobile and TV services, be the responsibility of the new spectrum licensees.

Discussion

Industry Canada agrees that the size of the proposed guard band is sufficient to protect mobile services. It is expected that new mobile equipment will be designed and manufactured with the appropriate selectivity and rejection characteristics to ensure protection of mobile services.

Following the repurposing of spectrum in the UHF TV band, a large number of Canadian consumers will continue to receive TV broadcasting programing by using existing TV set receivers, which are currently available to the public. These receivers are designed to receive broadcast signals across the entire UHF band, and may not have strong rejection capabilities for the frequency range in the future 600 MHz band where mobile systems will be deployed. The selectivity and adjacent channel rejection characteristics of these TV receivers are generally compliant with the Advanced Television Systems Committee's ATSC A/74, Receiver Performance Guidelines.

To minimize the impact to TV reception in Canada, the frequency separation between mobile and TV services can be increased by avoiding Canadian TV assignments in the last TV channel just below the guard band. Such a measure would effectively increase the guard band by 6 MHz, while the spectrum use for mobile services and for TV would remain harmonized with that of the United States.

As noted in the consultation, the exact frequency ranges for the guard bands and duplex gap will only be known after the conclusion of the US incentive auction. Consequently, the detailed spectrum policy and licensing framework for the use of these bands by low-power applications, such as wireless microphones, camera systems and TVWS devices, will be addressed in a separate public consultation at a later date. At that time, consideration will be given to the harmonization of technical requirements with the United States in order to ensure that the same equipment can be used in both countries.

DECISION 5:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada has decided that, where possible, no Canadian TV assignments will be made in the last TV channel adjacent to the originally proposed guard band, effectively increasing the guard band between the frequencies used for mobile and TV services by 6 MHz and reducing the potential for interference to broadcast services from the mobile services.


7. Transition Policy for Current Users of the 600 MHz Band

7.1 Users of the 600 MHz Band

Current services of the 600 MHz band 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).

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 also a policy and technical framework for TVWS devices.Footnote 7 However, at this time there are currently no TVWS devices that are operational in Canada.

7.2 Transition Policy for Regular Power TV Broadcasting Undertakings

The repurposing of the 600 MHz band would affect many Canadian regular power TV stations as the OTA TV stations may be reassigned new TV channels.

Industry Canada sought comments on this specific question:

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.

7.2.1 Design Objectives for the Development of the New DTV Allotment Plan

In the consultation, Industry Canada proposed three design objectives for the development of the new DTV allotment plan, specifically: 

  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.

Summary of Comments

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) was of the view that the design objectives should be expanded and re-ordered as: 

  1. to maintain continuity of service and minimize disruption to viewers receiving OTA television services;
  2. to confirm available channels for all TV stations in Canada;
  3. to optimize TV coverage and operating parameters; and
  4. to ensure spectral efficiency.

A number of respondents mostly representing small or independent broadcasters suggested that multiplexing of TV stations could be used to allow more efficient use of the TV spectrum. However, Bell and CAB opposed the use of multiplexing, stating that this would limit viewers' access to the full HDTV experience and prevent the broadcaster from pursuing new technology or standards.

The majority of the broadcasters agreed that all regular power TV stations should remain in their current band of operation in the new DTV allotment plan. Furthermore, Bell, SMITS, and CAB proposed that broadcasters have an opportunity to review and comment on a provisional allotment plan before it is finalized, such that they can switch their band of operation if needed.

CAB and STQ both suggested that TV stations have the opportunity to change operating parameters up to the maximum permitted in the current DTV Post Transition Allotment Plan before a new DTV allotment plan is finalized.

TELUS believed that the new DTV allotment plan needs to be spectrally efficient and supported Industry Canada's proposal to develop the new allotment plan based on current operating parameters for the TV broadcasting undertakings as opposed to maximum parameters.

CAB and PIAC also suggested that there be sufficient flexibility built into the DTV allotment plan to allow future adoption of new and improved technologies such as ultra-high definition TV (UHDTV) and Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC-3) standards.

Discussion

Industry Canada is of the view that the initiative of repurposing the 600 MHz spectrum should be established to provide the maximum opportunity for all existing OTA TV transmitters to maintain access to spectrum, while balancing the need for additional commercial mobile spectrum with the current needs of the broadcast industry and the interests of Canadian consumers in being able to benefit from both services.

Multicast transmission. Although multicast (multiplexing) is a technique for improving spectral efficiency, it may limit the broadcasters' ability to pursue new technologies and or standards, such as UHDTV. Industry Canada notes that even if not mandated, interested broadcasters may experiment with multicast technology services on a voluntary and experimental basis.

Vacant allotments. The number of TV undertakings in Canada has been static in recent years. Since August 2011, only five new TV stations (regular and low-power) have been established in Canada. Provisioning vacant TV allotments reserved for future growth would directly limit the amount of repurposed spectrum. It is also noted that it may be difficult to predict the geographic areas where future stations would likely be requested. Furthermore, it is noted that in each market area, future growth of OTA TV services may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Operating vs. maximum allotted parameters. Currently, most of the regular power TV stations in Canada operate at transmit parameters below the maximum levels permitted by the DTV Post Transition Allotment Plan. When necessary, broadcasters have already taken steps, such as modifying parameters or changing channels, to address any problems stemming from the 2011 conversion to DTV. As a result of the considerations and potential changes raised, and the possible significant reorganization of the services in the 600 MHz band, Industry Canada placed a moratorium on new applications for licensing in the TV broadcasting bands. Allowing existing TV stations to switch their band of operation or increase operating parameters would create additional constraints for the repacking process.

In the consultation, as a design objective for the new allotment plan, Industry Canada proposed to ensure available channels for all operating regular power TV stations in Canada. All commenters supported this design objective, recognizing the important role that OTA TV stations play on providing local programming to Canadians, as well as OTA TV stations' obligation to maintain an over-the-air presence in order to retain certain regulatory privileges.

If a TV station is assigned to a different channel as a result of the repacking process, its transmit power and antenna pattern may need to be modified to preserve the station's service area. Maintaining the station's service area would be difficult to achieve if the new channel of operation were in a different frequency band, due to varying propagation characteristics. In addition, changing the frequency band may introduce additional complexity for the transition to the new channel, because of possible changes required in the transmitting antenna. Therefore, Industry Canada is of the view that, when assigning an alternate channel to an affected station, it is preferable to maintain the station's frequency band of operation, i.e. low very-high frequency (LVHF), high very-high frequency (HVHF) and UHF. This will also minimize possible impacts to TV viewers as minimal or no changes will be required to the TV receive antennas.

DECISION 6:
The new DTV allotment plan will be developed based on the following design objectives and supporting measures:

  • The new DTV allotment plan will not include vacant TV allotments.
  • The new allotment plan will be based on current operating parameters for the TV broadcasting undertakings.
  • Available channels must be ensured for all operating regular power TV stations in Canada.
  • In the new DTV allotment plan, regular power TV stations operating in DTV mode will not change the band in which they operate whether it be UHF, HVHF or LVHF; regular power TV stations operating in National Television System Committee (NTSC) mode will not change the band that they were allotted in the current DTV Post Transition Allotment Plan.
  • Existing TV stations will not be able to switch their band of operation or increase operating parameters until the end of the moratorium on new applications for licensing in the TV broadcasting bands.this is the end of the bolded text

7.2.2 Methodology and Parameters for Ensuring Minimal Impact to TV Reception

In the consultation, Industry Canada proposed and sought comments on the methodology and parameters to be used to develop the new DTV allotment plan.

Summary of Comments

Bell proposed that the repacking methodology make provisions to minimize the number of channel changes to the existing stations in order to minimize the impact to OTA TV reception and disruptions to viewers.

Most of the broadcasters indicated that there should be no increase in interference from current levels as well as no reduction in noise-limited bounding contours (NLBCs) in any direction due to the station's simultaneous substitution and mandatory carriage rights. However, CAB stated that there may be tolerable levels of interference or possibly power reductions for analog stations in a transition scenario that may be acceptable for a reasonable period of time. In addition, CAB stated that any increase in interference stemming from mobile services would not be acceptable.

Bell and CAB pointed out that a transitional allotment plan may be required to allow for channel changes on both sides of the border to prevent objectionable interference and allow stations to maintain service to viewers. CAB further recommended that such temporary operations not affect the licensed coverage of a station and not impact the carriage and program distribution rights of TV stations.

Shaw proposed a two-step approach to transition from analog to digital service: with all else being equal, the first step would be for any new digital NLBC to be matched to the station's current grade B contours. The second step that Shaw suggested, as did CAB, was that an increase of 8 dB in effective radiated power (ERP) be added to the proposed digital allotment. This ERP increase would allow the digital reception capability to match the analog reception capability, as it would compensate for the "cliff effect" (lower digital reception thresholds at the fringes of coverage). Furthermore, CAB believed that the increase in ERP should not be restricted to analog stations and that DTV stations should be given an opportunity to modify operating parameters to correct assumptions made during the DTV transition in 2011.

Shaw stated that, since interference determinations are based on calculations, it is possible that current viewers in the "interference zone" (areas within a station's NLBC that are predicted to receive interference based on calculations) may be able to receive TV signals. Shaw therefore proposed that, in determining a new coverage area, all population in the current interference zone be considered. In addition, based on its own experience, Shaw proposed not to use LVHF band unless requested by the broadcasters.

Discussion

In developing the new DTV allotment plan, Industry Canada will place the priority on fulfilling the design objectives. However, when possible, Industry Canada will consider other factors, such as minimizing the number of existing stations that will need to perform channel changes.

Noise-limited bounding contours. 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 ERP for the new operating channel, Industry Canada will 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. During the transition period, Industry Canada will ensure that its broadcast database reflects the full service contours for OTA TV broadcasting undertakings (not showing the effects of additional interference or reduced transmission power, which may be employed on an interim basis during the transition period).

Transition allotment plan. Unlike the transition to DTV, there is insufficient spectrum available for a transitional allotment plan to provide temporary channels of operation during the transition to the new DTV allotment plan. However, Industry Canada will collaborate with the FCC to develop a transition plan that will minimize the impacts to the reception of TV signals.

ERP increase to compensate for cliff effect. In regards to the proposed increase in power for the conversion from analog to digital service, Industry Canada notes that the conversion methodology proposed in Annex A of the consultation already provides equivalently more than a 7 dB increase in ERP after matching the resulting DTV station's F(90,90) contour distance to the NTSC TV station's grade B contour distance.

Including the total amount of population in the current station's interference zone in the population served by the station as part of the baseline for interference level calculation would exceed the currently accepted determination of service to existing viewers. This would also result in a less spectrally efficient DTV allotment plan as stations would require additional separation distance between them. Furthermore, viewers in the interference zone may be able to receive OTA TV in the reassigned channel.

DECISION 7:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada will use the planning parameters and technical assumptions listed in Annex C to develop the new DTV allotment plan.

7.2.3 Minimum Notification Period for the Relocation of Regular Power Stations to the New DTV Assignments and Overall Timing for the Transition to the New DTV Allotment Plan

Industry Canada recognizes that changing the channel of operation for a regular power TV statio n is a complex task, requiring significant engineering resources, time for planning and equipment procurement, as well as civil works, if needed. The timing and the implementation of the transition to the new DTV allotment plan will need to be developed and coordinated jointly by Canada and the United States. As an additional consideration, a timely deployment of the mobile broadband services in the repurposed 600 MHz band would be desirable. In the consultation, Industry Canada proposed that all regular power TV undertakings that need to relocate to a new channel assignment in the new DTV allotment plan be provided with a minimum notification period of 18 months.

Summary of Comments

Most broadcasters as well as the NAB maintained that the proposed 18-month minimum notification period is not sufficient due to the limited number of resources, such as the number of third party providers of equipment, installation expertise, and the complexity of the transition which will be implemented simultaneously in Canada and the United States. In turn, they proposed a minimum notification period of 39 months and, in some special cases, longer than 39 months. Shaw stated that a flexible deadline is needed to account for special circumstances.

Rogers and SaskTel supported the proposed minimum notification period of 18 months; however, Rogers further proposed that, under special cases, a longer period of time of up to 48 months be provided.

Cogeco and WIND, on the other hand, proposed a one year transition period to ensure the timely deployment of the repurposed spectrum for broadband applications. Advanced Interactive Canada Inc. suggested that the overall timing be as reasonably short as possible to allow for other services to be planned. CanWISP believed that the transition could be finished by July 1, 2016, and recommended that the Radio Advisory Board of Canada be requested to develop a plan in concert with the DTV, RRBS, and TV white space community so that a rapid but minimally disruptive transition could be carried out.

Shaw, Rogers and Bell were of the view that broadcasters should be given a realistic timetable for completing channel changes within a given period, having regard to the cumulative impact of all channel changes required of OTA broadcasters, individually and collectively in Canada and in the United States. Rogers further suggested that any delay in the release of the new DTV allotment plan or the transition schedule not result in less time given to broadcasters to plan and complete their respective transition to a new channel.

Rogers, SMITS, Bell and STQ recommended a phase-in method of implementing the new DTV allotment plan rather than the reduced service approach, as it would be important to maintain current services to viewers.

SMITS proposed that, in markets where there is no immediate need for mobile spectrum, TV stations be allowed to maintain their current 600 MHz band allotments until mobile broadband demand warrants a relocation. SMITS further proposed that, as a potential interim measure for small markets without an immediate need for mobile spectrum, TV stations be allowed to remain on their current channel for as long as possible (be it in digital or analog), where this could be done without causing interference to television or mobile services in adjacent markets.

Discussion

Recognizing the importance of maintaining the current OTA TV reception during the transition to the new DTV allotment plan, Industry Canada intends to work with the FCC to develop a phase-in method for implementing the new DTV allotment plan. The implementation plan would have as objectives 

  1. to minimize the impact to TV viewers during the transition period, and
  2. to maximize the amount of time and other resources available to broadcasters during the transition period.

However, due to the complexity of the transition process, which may involve sequential dependencies between stations in the same or adjacent markets, it is expected that a temporary increase in permissible interference levels may be required. As well, Industry Canada will work with the FCC to develop a transition plan that will take into account the cumulative impacts of all changes to broadcasters, both domestically and internationally.

Since all of the regular power TV stations will keep their current band of operation, it is likely that some stations will be able to switch to their new channel of operation without requiring significant equipment changes. As a result, Industry Canada believes that a minimum notification period of 18 months following the release of the implementation plan is sufficient for regular power TV stations currently operating below the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band. Industry Canada recognizes the need to accommodate situations where specific technical challenges would require longer notifications periods.

Since Industry Canada will adopt a phase-in method for implementing the new DTV allotment plan, the stations' scheduled channel changes in later phases will benefit from a notification period longer than 18 months. To determine which of the TV broadcasting undertakings face a difficult retuning process and require a longer notification period, Industry Canada will require additional detailed technical information on the ability of the current broadcast facilities to operate (or not) over extended frequency ranges, such as information on their broadband antennas.

All regular power TV undertakings currently operating in the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band are permitted to continue using the current channels and modes of operation until the spectrum is needed for the deployment of mobile broadband services, as displacement will only be on an "as necessary" basis. When displacement is required in order to allow for the deployment by mobile broadband operators, regular power TV undertakings that operate within the 600 MHz band and that are located in urban areas will be afforded a minimum of a one-year notification period (as detailed in Annex A), and regular power TV undertakings that operate within the 600 MHz band and that are located in all other areas will be afforded a minimum of a two-year notification period. Industry Canada will issue a displacement notification only if it determines that the continued operation of these undertakings will interfere with the new mobile services in the 600 MHz band. Voluntary agreements between the operators of these undertakings and 600 MHz licensees may provide for earlier displacement or allow the temporary operation of these undertakings to continue. Where new mobile service operators prefer to deploy earlier than permitted, the mobile operator and the incumbent may come to a mutually beneficial agreement in which the notification period may be less than one year.

Industry Canada notes that all regular power TV undertakings operating outside the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band can be permitted to operate on the current channels and modes of operation as long as it would not cause additional interference to other stations during or after the transition process to the new DTV allotment plan (i.e., on a secondary basis relative to other TV stations). This may be the case especially for TV broadcasting stations located far from the Canada-US border and in more remote areas.

The actual sequence of channel changes for individual stations cannot be determined until the new channel assignments are known at the conclusion of the incentive auction. To assist with the transition process, Industry Canada will also collect technical information on the ability of each broadcasting facility to operate over extended channel ranges. However, Industry Canada will develop a procedural document indicating the sequence of events and milestones leading to the completion of the transition to the new DTV allotment plan and the issuance of the new broadcasting certificates.

DECISION 8:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, the following decisions have been adopted:

  • Industry Canada will work with the FCC to develop a process to transition to the new DTV allotment plan based on a phase-in approach.
  • All regular power TV undertakings currently operating below the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band that need to relocate to a new channel assignment in the new DTV allotment plan will be provided with a minimum notification period of 18 months after the implementation plan is finalized.
  • Regular power TV undertakings (in either DTV or NTSC mode) currently operating in the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band will be permitted to continue using their current channels and modes of operation (i.e. analog or digital) until the spectrum is needed for the deployment of mobile broadband services. Industry Canada will issue a displacement notification only if it is determined that the continued operation of these undertakings will prevent the deployment of new mobile services in the 600 MHz band.
  • For these TV undertakings, the following minimum notification periods will apply (as detailed in Annex A): (i) regular power TV undertakings located in urban areas will be afforded a minimum of a one-year notification period; and (ii) regular power TV undertakings located in all other areas will be afforded a minimum of a two-year notification period.
  • Regular power TV undertakings (in either DTV or NTSC mode) operating outside the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band will be permitted to operate on a secondary basis (i.e., on a no-interference, no-protection basis) relative to other TV stations.
  • Additional information will be collected to evaluate the ability of broadcasting facilities to operate over extended frequency ranges.bolded text ends here

7.3 Transition Policy for Low-Power TV Broadcasting Undertakings

In the consultation published in December 2014, Industry Canada stated that channels of operation are expected to continue to be available for virtually every LPTV currently in operation in Canada. LPTV broadcasting stations operate on a no-interference, no-protection basis relative to the regular power TV stations. As many 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 would also be affected by the repacking. Industry Canada sought comments on specific proposals for the transition of LPTV stations currently operating in the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band and for the LPTV stations operating in the rest of the TV bands.

Specifically, Industry Canada sought comments on the following questions:

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

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

Summary of Comments

Quebecor Media Inc., Rogers, MTS Allstream, TELUS and Advanced Interactive Canada Inc., all supported Industry Canada's statement that it is expected that new channels of operation would be available for virtually every LPTV broadcasting undertaking.

Bell, CAB and CACTUS suggested that Industry Canada ensure that replacement channels are assigned to all existing LPTV stations.

Most respondents agreed with Industry Canada's proposal that the transition policy for the LPTV stations currently operating in the 600 MHz band be based on the displacement of incumbents on an "as necessary" basis.

There was also general support for Industry Canada's proposal 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 notification period of two years for LPTV stations in all other areas.

Bell and CAB believed that there is a need to provide more clarity regarding the criteria or definitions that would be used to identify which stations are "located in urban areas and along highway corridors".

SaskTel anticipated that the rapidly increasing demand for bandwidth in rural areas would necessitate system deployment in the 600 MHz band over a shorter time frame than the proposed two-year notification period. Therefore, SaskTel proposed a one-year notification period for incumbent LPTV stations in all areas operating in the 600 MHz band. Failing that, SaskTel suggested no more than an 18-month notification period for incumbent LPTV stations outside of urban areas and along highway corridors.

Bell and CAB recommended that all LPTV stations be provided with a minimum notification period of two years before their displacement date.

Most respondents agreed with Industry Canada's proposal that LPTV stations currently broadcasting in analog mode be permitted to continue to do so on a no-interference, no-protection basis.

There was a general support for Industry Canada's proposal that all LPTV stations operating below the 600 MHz band be advised of their status and projected displacement date within six months of the close of the US incentive auction.

Discussion

Industry Canada notes that a number of LPTV stations may be impacted by the repacking process due to the deployment of new mobile broadband services and the fact that most of the regular power TV stations are expected to change their chan nels of operation. Impacts on LPTV stations will differ depending on whether their existing operating channels are within or below the repurposed spectrum.

Although 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, Industry Canada plans to work to mitigate the potential impact of the repacking process in order to preserve the services that LPTV stations provide.

Industry Canada will collaborate with the FCC to ensure that a channel of operation will be available for virtually every LPTV station. However, Industry Canada notes that, in some communities, multi-channel LPTV facilities operating up to 25 TV channels are in service. For the 600 MHz band plan options with high clearing targets such as repurposing 108 MHz of spectrum or more (refer to Figure 1), the number of TV channels left in the band plan may not be sufficient to accommodate these multi-channel operations. For these particular cases, Industry Canada will work with the affected licensees to assist them in finding a technical solution to minimise the possible impact. For lower spectrum clearing targets, it is expected that a channel of operation will be available for every LPTV station. In summary, virtually every LPTV station listed in Annex A will receive a digital channel assignment in the new DTV allotment plan resulting from the incentive auction. The new channels will be based on the parameters and methodology defined in Annex C of the present document. Industry Canada will also work with the FCC to ensure that the repacked LPTV stations will not be subject to displacement by regular power stations after completion of the repacking process.

LPTV stations that will need to change their channel of operation will be subject to displacement on an "as necessary" basis. LPTV station licensees will be afforded a notification period before displacement. The methodology and duration of the notification period will depend whether the LPTV station operates in the repacked portion of the band or in the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz spectrum.

In order to facilitate the deployment of mobile broadband services, LPTV stations that operate within the 600 MHz band and are located in urban areas (as detailed in Annex A) will be afforded a minimum of a one-year notification period. LPTV stations that operate within the 600 MHz band and are located in all other areas will be afforded a minimum of a two-year notification period. Industry Canada will issue a displacement notification only if it determines that the continued operation of the LPTV station will interfere with the new mobile services in the 600 MHz band. Voluntary agreements between LPTV station operators and 600 MHz licensees may provide for earlier displacement or for the continued operation of the LPTV stations. Where new mobile service operators prefer to deploy earlier than permitted, the mobile operator and the incumbent may come to a mutually beneficial agreement in which the notification period may be less than one year.

For LPTV stations currently operating below the 600 MHz band, some LPTV stations 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. To reduce the complexity of the transition plan, LPTV stations will not be added to the channel move sequencing for the regular power TV stations. As a result, some LPTV stations may be displaced from their current operating channels, and as secondary operators, may need to operate with reduced power levels, accept higher interference levels or move to their new assigned channel in the allotment plan. Industry Canada will advise these LPTV stations of their status and projected displacement date within six months of the close of the US incentive auction. As well, the Canadian regular power TV stations will be required to notify the affected LPTV stations at least six months before their displacement date.

LPTV undertakings (in either DTV or NTSC mode) operating below the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band should be able to operate on their current channels and modes of operation as long as no additional interference is caused to other stations during or after the transition to the new DTV allotment plan, i.e., on a secondary basis relative to other TV stations. This may be the case especially for LPTV broadcasting stations located far from the Canada-US border and in more remote areas.

DECISION 9:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada has decided the following:

  • the following text is in boldIndustry Canada will work with the FCC to ensure that a digital channel of operation will continue to be available for virtually every LPTV station listed in Annex A based on the parameters and methodology defined in Annex C of the present document.
  • Industry Canada will advise all LPTV stations operating outside the 600 MHz band of their status and projected displacement date within six months of the close of the US incentive auction. As well, the Canadian regular power TV stations will be required to notify the affected LPTV stations at least six months before their displacement date.
  • For LPTV stations operating within the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band, the following minimum notification periods will apply: (i) LPTV stations located in urban areas (as detailed in Annex A) will be afforded a minimum of a one-year notification period; and (ii) LPTV stations located in all other areas will be afforded a minimum of a two-year notification period. Industry Canada will issue a displacement notification only if it is determined that the continued operation of the LPTV station will prevent the deployment of new mobile services in the 600 MHz band.
  • LPTV undertakings (in either DTV or NTSC mode) operating outside the to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band will be permitted to operate on their current channels and modes of operation on a secondary basis (i.e., no-interference, no-protection basis) relative to other TV stations.bolded text ends here



8. Transition Policy for Other Current Users

8.1 Remote Rural Broadband Systems (RRBS)

RRBS are communication systems that provide broadband services to remote rural communities in Canada, using unused TV broadcasting channels (channels 21 to 51, excluding channel 37) in locations that are more than 121 km from the Canada-US 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. RRBS are not permitted to cause interference to, or claim protection from, licensed broadcast operations.

In 2012, Industry Canada released the document SMSE-012-12, 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. The document included a decision to continue to issue and renew licences for RRBS; however, the decision also indicated that, should changes occur to the TV broadcast spectrum below 698 MHz, this practice may need to be revisited.

The impacts of the 600 MHz spectrum reallocation on RRBS will not be known until after the implementation plan is completed. At this time, it is expected that many of the RRBS will need to change their parameters, such as their channel of operation and transmitted power, so that virtually every RRBS operator can be accommodated with spectrum in alternate broadcasting frequencies. The list of RRBS stations is detailed in Annex B.

Industry Canada proposed a transition policy for the RRBS currently operating in the 600 MHz range based on the displacement of incumbents on an "as necessary" basis. The operation of existing RRBS would continue to be permitted on a secondary basis (i.e. a no-interference, no-protection basis) relative to the new mobile systems. It was proposed in the consultation that RRBS licensees operating on frequencies within the 600 MHz band be afforded a notification period of two years (consistent with the notification period afforded to 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 has been made, concluding that continued operation of the RRBS station would impede the deployment of new licensed mobile systems in the 600 MHz band.

As outlined in the consultation, there is currently a moratorium on new applications for licensing in the TV broadcasting bands. The moratorium is a result of the considerations and potential changes raised in the consultation, and the possible significant reorganization of the services in the TV broadcasting bands. It is expected that the moratorium will be in place until the new DTV allotment plan, spectrum utilization policies for radiocommunication services, and technical and regulatory rules for the TV broadcasting bands become available.

Industry Canada sought comments on the following question:

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

Summary of Comments

A total of 11 ISPs submitted comments related to the transition policy for RRBS. Most of the ISPs that operate in the broadcast frequencies suggested that they be reimbursed for costs incurred in moving to new frequencies. Additionally, some RRBS licensees requested that they be protected from displacement and that the moratorium be lifted in order to permit them to continue to serve rural areas without disruption. Most ISPs agreed with the proposed transition timelines but some requested a longer notification period.

The broadcasters and broadcast associations were generally supportive of Industry Canada's transition policies for RRBS. However, CAB and Shaw opposed the addition of the frequency range 470-512 MHz, and wanted LPTV to be given priority over RRBS in possible relocation or frequency changes during the repacking process.

SaskTel agreed with the displacement of RRBS operators on an "as necessary" basis, but suggested reducing the notification period in order to ensure that there would be no delays that would affect other users in the band. MEDEI Ontario suggested that Industry Canada endeavour to assign channels within the operators' existing equipment to reduce associated costs. In addition, MEDEI Ontario suggested that financial compensation be provided. Given the significant contribution of Internet services that RRBS operators provide in the rural areas, this organization is concerned that RRBS service providers may not be able to continue their business if the 600 MHz is repurposed.

YourLink and ABC Communications requested notification periods longer than two years. 400525 Ontario Limited, Advanced Interactive Canada Inc. and RRI Choice Broadband Canada were concerned with the moratorium, one specifically stating that the moratorium was unnecessary beyond the 400-kilometre Canada-US border zone, and another requesting to see the moratorium lifted. Advanced Interactive Canada Inc. and Terastream requested that the secondary status of RRBS be upgraded to primary, with Advanced Interactive Canada Inc. suggesting that RRBS licensees be considered equal to commercial mobile licensees, and Terastream and Groupe-Acces suggesting that RRBS be treated similarly to LPTV during the repacking process. Lastly, ABC Communications and YourLink were concerned with the costs associated with the repacking process, including the purchase of equipment. CanWISP proposed that a standard size of 5 MHz blocks be established for RRBS, which was also supported by Route2. Beacon Broadband generally disagreed with the repurposing exercise.

Discussion

As noted in Section 5, Industry Canada will proceed with the repurposing of the 600 MHz band to allow for the deployment of mobile services. Industry Canada recognizes the cost of changing frequencies and replacing equipment and will minimize the impact by displacing incumbents only on an "as necessary" basis. This will likely result in many RRBS operators being permitted to continue operating on their existing frequencies for many years. For RRBS operations within the repurposed 600 MHz spectrum to be displaced, a minimum notification period of two years is r easonable given that the mobile operators would have flexibility in deployment plans. Conversely, some of the RRBS operating on frequencies outside the 600 MHz range may be impacted by the reorganization of the TV broadcasting assignments for regular and low-power TV stations. The details of these impacts will be determined by the implementation plan for TV repacking, which will be developed after the conclusion of the US incentive auction. The displacement notification periods for stations will vary, as each RRBS station will 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. However, there will be a minimum notification period of five months if the operator is in the broadcasting spectrum.

Once the implementation plan has been established, RRBS licensees will be advised of the likely timelines for relocation and possible options for new frequencies. Industry Canada will assist in finding new channels of operation 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 spectrum within the UHF band may not be available in some cases. To increase channel availability for current RRBS operations, Industry Canada proposed to increase the spectrum range where the channels for RRBS can be reassigned, by also adding the range 470-512 MHz (TV channels 14-20) to the frequency band where RRBS are allowed to operate. These channels may be made available if required to accommodate existing RRBS operations.

DECISION 10:
All RRBS licensees will be permitted to operate on a secondary basis (i.e. a no-interference, no-protection basis). For RRBS operating in the repurposed 600 MHz spectrum, a displacement notification period of two years will apply. Following the incentive auction in the United States and the development of the joint implementation plan for broadcast transmitters in both Canada and the United States, Industry Canada will work with RRBS operators to clarify their options for continued operation. Additional frequencies in the range 470-512 MHz may be made available if required to accommodate existing RRBS operations following the finalization of the new DTV allotment plan.

8.2 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 Industry Canada's decision to allow the use of TVWS devices (see SMSE-012-12), wireless microphone and camera operators operating in the TV bands were able to apply for a licence to ensure protection from interference caused by TVWS devices.

The UHF TV band is widely used by low-power radiocommunication apparatus, including wireless microphones and camera systems. Through Spectrum Advisory Bulletin SAB-001-10 and SAB-001-12, Industry Canada announced that the 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 to the UHF TV band below 698 MHz.

Summary of Comments

Shure Incorporated indicated that due to the favorable propagation and other beneficial properties, the spectrum in the UHF band is very important for the operation of wireless microphones. Following the repurposing of the 700 MHz band, the UHF spectrum available for wireless microphones has already been reduced, and users of these systems have incurred costs in order to transition out of the repurposed band.

Shure proposed that, in addition to access to spectrum in the duplex gap and guard bands, two clear UHF channels be made available for wireless microphone users in each market area. Furthermore, Shure indicated that due to narrowband operation and tightly controlled out-of-band emissions, it is possible that wireless microphone devices operate in the close proximity to RAS and WMTS in channel 37 without risk of creating interference, so wireless microphones could make the best use of guard bands around channel 37, if such is the case.

Furthermore, Shure proposed that the wireless microphones continue to have access to the spectrum in the 600 MHz band, until the commercial carriers truly start operating in their respective area. A geolocation database is suggested as a means to determine the spectrum occupancy by commercial operators.

In his comments, Wayne Stacey indicated that in his view a discrepancy exists between the CPC-2-1-28, Voluntary Licensing of Licence-Exempt Low-Power Radio Apparatus in the TV Bands, and the moratorium on accepting "new applications for licensing for low-power apparatus (i.e. wireless microphones and cameras)". To ensure that wireless microphones are protected from interference from to-be-deployed white space devices, Mr. Stacey proposed that either the moratorium be relaxed as far as the wireless microphones are concerned, or alternatively that the users of wireless microphones be permitted to obtain protection from TV white space devices by registering directly with the white space database operators.

Discussion

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 US 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 mentioned in the consultation paper, after the conclusion of the US incentive auction.

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

8.3 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 have not yet been finalized, there are currently no deployments in Canada. As TVWS devices are adaptive and operate based on interference avoidance, it is expected that the repurposing of a portion of the UHF TV band would not impact these devices. 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. Changes to the 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, Industry Canada proposes to provide flexible licensing in this frequency range, enabling the deployment of any application under the mobile, fixed or broadcasting services.

Industry Canada proposed 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). In the International Table,Footnote 8 these frequency ranges already include co-primary allocations to fixed and mobile services for Canada, as stated in footnotes 5.293 and 5.297.

Industry Canada sought comments on this specific question:

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 ranges 512-608 MHz and 614-698 MHz.

Summary of Comments

While the comments received were generally supportive of the proposal, many commenters suggested that the updates to the Canadian Table be implemented only after the outcome of the US incentive auction is known and confirmed.

Discussion

Making the required updates to the Canadian Table after the conclusion of the US incentive auction would allow Industry Canada to determine more precisely and with greater information the frequency ranges where co-primary allocations for mobile and fixed services should be added.

DECISION 11:
In light of the considerations and comments mentioned above, Industry Canada will determine what the required changes are to the Canadian Table, and implement these changes after the US incentive auction results become available.


10. 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 decisions 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: ic.spectrumauctions-encheresduspectre.ic@canada.ca

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