Language selection


Archived — Notice No. DGTP-001-94

Industry Canada

Radiocommunication Act

Notice No. DGTP-001-94

Policy Framework for the Provision of Mobile Satellite Services via Regional and Global Satellite Systems in the Canadian Market


The purpose of this policy framework is to permit the orderly provision of mobile satellite services via regional and global satellite systems in the Canadian market. The policy framework is applicable to those regional and global satellite systems in respect of which a licence under the Radiocommunication Act is not issued for the satellite portion of the system.

The former Department of Communications issued Canada Gazette Notice No. DGTP-006-93, dated May 12, 1993, respecting a proposed policy framework for the provision of mobile satellite services via regional and global satellite systems in the Canadian market, and invited comments on the same. Based on the review of the public submissions made in response to that request and on internal study, the finalized policy framework is now being issued.

This policy framework has been developed, in particular, for the guidance of potential future operators of mobile satellite systems having regional or global coverage capabilities, and providing domestic mobile satellite services (MSS) 1 within Canada or services between Canada and other countries. Entities proposing to utilize Canadian satellite facilities to offer mobile satellite services between or among countries other than Canada are not restricted by Canadian policy, but may be subject to the regulatory regimes of the country or countries to be served.

The aim of the policy framework is to enable Canadians to benefit fully from these regional or global mobile satellite systems and to encourage Canadians to be active in their development, ownership and operation.

Access to high quality telecommunications services must be offered to Canadians if they are available to other competitive users and if their introduction would provide demonstrable benefits to Canadians. Through the use of mobile satellite systems, Canadians could have a greater choice of communications services, and users in remote and rural areas of Canada would, in particular, benefit from access to better and more affordable communications services.

Furthermore, satellite communications are likely to play a key role in providing an increasingly mobile population with continuous access to the information highway. Satellites might also prove to be instrumental in giving more Canadians access to the information infrastructure sooner, since the delay and costs of laying cable can be avoided if satellite coverage is available.

The Government continues to place a high priority on Canadian ownership and control of transmission facilities used for the carriage of Canadian traffic. Therefore, specific requirements respecting Canadian ownership and control also constitute key elements of the policy framework for the provision of mobile satellite services via regional and global satellite systems in the Canadian market.

Policy Framework

The following policy framework for the commercial provision of mobile satellite services via current and proposed regional and global mobile satellite systems (utilizing satellites in either geostationary or non-geostationary orbits) is herewith adopted.

Under the powers conferred by the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister will consider and, at his or her discretion, grant licences in respect of applications for the radio apparatus in mobile terminals, fixed gateway earth stations, and the telemetry, tracking and command stations which form part of the regional or global mobile satellite system.

Any radio apparatus licences issued to an applicant proposing to offer such mobile satellite services in Canada would be subject to certain licence eligibility, technical and policy conditions. The following are criteria against which applications will be assessed and licence conditions developed:

  • the applicant must be a Canadian-owned and controlled corporation incorporated or continued under the laws of Canada or a province, the corporation being Canadian-owned and controlled if, were it a Canadian carrier, it would be eligible to operate as a telecommunications common carrier under the provisions of the Telecommunications Act and the regulations made thereunder;
  • a Canadian or Canadians ("Canadian" having the same meaning in this paragraph as in the Telecommunications Act and the regulations made thereunder) must hold an equity share in the entity2 that owns the satellites and operates the regional or global mobile satellite system, which equity share is, at the time the mobile satellite service commences, at least proportional to a good faith estimate of the expected Canadian usage 3 of that system (as compared to the total usage of the system) over an initial period of time, and that Canadian or those Canadians must, after the service has commenced, take all suitable steps to have held by Canadians an equity share in the entity at least proportional to Canadian usage of that system, the equity position in all cases being accompanied by an appropriate interest in the direction and control of the entity that owns the satellites and operates the regional or global mobile satellite system;
  • the services offered must provide a demonstrable benefit to Canadians, which benefit may in part be demonstrated through, for example, a showing that similar services are not available and are not likely to soon become available on Canadian telecommunications facilities, or that Canadian industries would be placed at a competitive disadvantage because of the non-availability of these services;
  • the status of any Canadian carrier(s) as the only provider(s) of overseas telecommunications facilities for the carriage of Canadian traffic, during the period and to the extent such status is obtained or maintained, must be respected 4;
  • spectrum policy requirements with respect to allocation, utilization and efficiency, orderly deployment and co-existence with other radio services authorized for use in the bands, must be met; and
  • spectrum management, including frequency coordination with existing and planned Canadian stations, and type approval considerations must be satisfied with respect to all radio apparatus.

In addition to the foregoing, applications for the above radio licences may also be assessed according to a number of factors, including but not restricted to:

  • the potential, longer-term effects of the proposed operation on access to reliable, affordable, high quality telecommunications services in both urban and rural areas in all regions of Canada;
  • commitments for the maximized use of Canadian telecommunications facilities, including gateway ground stations, whenever possible, to the extent that the use of such facilities is consistent with the optimal provision of the mobile satellite services, having regard to such factors as service reliability, service quality, and consumer pricing;
  • the prospects for stimulating Canadian research and development and technological innovation;
  • the effect of the proposed operation on the efficiency and competitiveness of the Canadian telecommunications industry, factors in respect of which include the opportunities available for the provision of the subject mobile satellite services in the Canadian market by more than one operator; and
  • the ability of potential entrants in the mobile satellite services field to ensure that the public's demands for more efficient and sophisticated telecommunications services are accompanied by appropriate safeguards for the privacy of individual users.

Furthermore, the licensing, under the Radiocommunication Act, of individual Canadian registered mobile satellite subscriber terminals 5 (and the operation of foreign registered terminals) for a regional or global mobile satellite communications system, will be facilitated by, for example, enabling the successful applicant to hold the licences for the terminals, provided that:

  • the Canadian registered mobile terminals are registered for use on the system through a Canadian service provider and meet the appropriate Canadian technical specifications;
  • the non-Canadian registered mobile terminals are duly authorized in their home country and meet the appropriate system specifications, and Canadian users are permitted to use their Canadian approved and registered terminals in the foreign country on a reciprocal basis; and
  • an equitable arrangement is in place for sharing revenue between the Canadian and non-Canadian operating entities.

As noted above, it is considered important that mobile satellite services provided via a regional or global satellite system be offered in Canada with the participation of Canadians holding an equity position in the entity which owns the satellites and operates the regional or global mobile satellite service. However, where the services offered are directed to a small and specialized market segment, the availability of such services would provide clear benefits that would otherwise remain unavailable to Canadian telecommunications users, and equity participation in the system by Canadians is not feasible, consideration will be given, after a careful review of the merits of any such application, to the licensing of subscriber terminals or other equipment, on a case-by-case basis, under the Radiocommunication Act.

This policy takes effect upon publication. It should be noted, however, that spectrum allocation and utilization policies, as well as frequency coordination and other considerations, may need to be resolved before any service is actually implemented.

October 26, 1994

Michael Helm

Director General
Telecommunications Policy

Date modified: