Archived — Notice No. DGTP-006-94

Industry Canada

Radiocommunication Act

Notice No. DGTP-006-94

Policy Discussion and Proposals Respecting the Future Provision of Personal Communications Services and Frequency Spectrum in Canada in the 2 GHz Range

1. Introduction

The purpose of this notice is to invite public comment on various policy measures which would permit the timely and orderly development of new wireless personal communications services 1 (PCS) in frequency bands in the 2 GHz range. Public comment on the specific issues set out below is solicited, as are comments on any other issues which are believed to be of relevance to the emergence of future mobile and personal communications services in Canada.

A policy is being formulated to respond to the interest shown by potential service providers for the introduction of PCS within Canada. A key aim of any policy measure adopted by Industry Canada would be to foster the ability of Canadians to fully benefit from the implementation of new and enhanced wireless technologies and services, and to ensure that Canadian industry participates actively in their development both at home and abroad.

Wireless technologies in general, and PCS in particular, are expected to play key roles in the development of the Canadian information highway. Accordingly, Industry Canada will undertake its policy-formulation activities in this area having regard to the three objectives identified in the information highway strategy:

  • the creation of jobs through innovation and investment;
  • the reinforcement of Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity;
  • and the provision of universal access at reasonable cost.

Regard will also be given to the four principles which are to guide the development and implementation of the information highway strategy:

  • an interconnected and interoperable network of networks;
  • collaborative private and public sector development;
  • competition in facilities, products and services;
  • and privacy protection and network security.

The development of PCS should further the objectives stated in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act, and be consistent with the efficient deployment of frequency spectrum resources within the oversight of the Radiocommunications Act.

Industry Canada believes that PCS will be a significant impetus to advance wireless communications and the information highway. There have also been many requests to initiate a process leading to the implementation of PCS in Canada. Consequently, Industry Canada will proceed expeditiously enabling the implementation of PCS in the 2 GHz range and anticipates calling for licenses in the second quarter of 1995 with the awarding of licenses later in 1995. In order to finalize the policy and frequency spectrum decisions quickly, we are asking for comment on this notice by January 16, 1995.

2. Designation of Frequency Spectrum for PCS

The Spectrum Policy proposals (Canada Gazette, Notice DGTP-005-93/SMEP-006-93) released by Industry Canada in June 1993, dealt with the utilization of frequency spectrum for a number of radio services. Representations concerning the introduction of PCS were received in response to the proposals set out in the document. In particular, strong support was evident for the designation of frequency spectrum for PCS.

These representations have been taken into account in formulating this notice. Accordingly, it is the intention of Industry Canada to designate suitable frequency spectrum in the 2 GHz range for both licensed and licence exempt 2 PCS applications, having due regard for the existing services in that range. The following discussion in this notice is based in part on such a designation being effected. Industry Canada may reserve part of the designated PCS spectrum for future use in the absence of evidence of clear benefits to making all the spectrum available at this time. (Section 4 deals in more detail with issues related to frequency spectrum use by PCS.)

3. PCS Service Issues

(A) Discussion

With respect to the licensed portion of the frequency spectrum, Industry Canada is giving close consideration to the specific services that might be implemented when frequency spectrum is made available. In this context, it should be noted that, over the past several years, the Canadian telecommunications market has seen the establishment and development of a number of competitive and complementary mobile and personal communications services, including cellular radiotelephony, radio paging, mobile satellite data transmission and telephony, dispatch mobile radio, digital public cordless telephony and air-to-ground telephony.

An important goal relating to the opening of new frequency bands for PCS is to foster the introduction of state-of-the-art voice, text/data, and image services for Canadians, so that Canadians will continue to garner the benefits available from advanced technology and so that Canadian industry can maintain its leadership in the provision of mobile and personal communications equipment and services. Industry Canada will encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the development of wireless services while adhering to our responsibilities to manage the frequency spectrum and promote its efficient use. The challenge for industry, therefore, is to come forward with proposals for innovative applications and services which would move Canada to the forefront of PCS development.

In giving consideration to licensing proposals for innovative applications and services, Industry Canada is prepared to be flexible. By way of example, proposals may be made respecting the introduction of new services that would be offered in the subject frequency bands in conjunction with services that are, or could be, offered in other frequency bands.

The portion of the frequency spectrum that will be designated for the development of licence exempt services will enable industry to respond to a number of different consumer voice and data communications needs. These services, which will be exempt from the radio apparatus licensing requirements of the Radiocommunication Act, will be required to operate in accordance with parameters selected to permit non-coordinated, compatible coexistence between PCS users in the same frequency band and within geographic proximity of each other, and the radio apparatus will also have to meet technical requirements issued by Industry Canada. The appropriate operating parameters and the technical standards will be developed and promulgated by Industry Canada following consultation with industry.

(B) Request for Comments on PCS Service Matters

Comments are sought on the following matters:

  1. the types and features of the advanced and innovative services which could be provided as well as the measures that would best foster this innovation, encourage market flexibility, promote consumer choices, and ensure full and open competition;
  2. the desirability of formulating service requirements for licensees prior to the introduction of new services in the bands of interest, and the alternatives thereto;
  3. the contribution that any particular new development might make to the establishment of the wireless component of the information highway;
  4. in keeping with past practice, the conditions that might be contained in the licences issued to service providers, for example, with respect to the extent of the geographical area within which services must be provided, the services to be offered, the technologies to be used, or the technical standards to be met;
  5. the desirability of pursuing harmonization between the services licensed in Canada and the services that are now being, or that in the future will be, offered in the United States or elsewhere;
  6. the means by which the licensing process may be used to advance the statutory objective of fostering increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services, including services such as local telephony. For example, should certain potential applications be advantaged and if so, how?

4. PCS Frequency Spectrum Matters

The consultation on spectrum policy development in Canada Gazette Notice No. DGTP-005-93/SMEP-006-93 referred to in section 2, contained proposals and initiated significant discussion regarding the introduction of PCS. Based on the public comments received and on further developments in this matter, Industry Canada can now indicate some of its decisions. However, the decision on the precise division of frequency spectrum will be made following the consideration of matters raised in this notice.

On October 29, 1994, Industry Canada released its revised Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (Canada Gazette Notice No. DGTP-005-94), which includes the allocation of frequency spectrum in the 2 GHz range to the mobile radio service, thereby providing frequency spectrum for PCS. Industry Canada will take into account the strong representations made during public consultation with respect to the creation of at least a basic level of compatibility with the eventual deployment of PCS in the United States when designating the specific blocks of frequency spectrum for licensed and licence exempt operations.

  1. Licensed PCS Applications

    Accordingly, the blocks of frequency spectrum for licensed operations will be chosen to provide at least a basic compatibility with the frequency spectrum designated for this purpose in the United States. This will done by maintaining the same frequency separation in the pairing of blocks of spectrum and also choosing from the same range of frequency spectrum as used for PCS in the United States. The bands chosen in the United States are 1850 1910 MHz and 1930 1990 MHz, and are intended to support up to six licensed service providers in any geographical area. In Canada there may not be a need to initially provide for as much frequency spectrum. There are fixed (microwave) stations currently operating in these bands, which further encourage economy in the use of the spectrum by PCS. As well, the plan devised for PCS in the United States overlaps 20 MHz of spectrum allocated internationally to the mobile satellite service (1970 1990 MHz) and its use for PCS would impact on the deployment of mobile satellite systems. On the other hand, there may be advantages for Canadian PCS licenses to have full frequency compatibility with PCS operations in the United States, for example, in making business arrangements for service roaming and portability.

    Comment is solicited on whether all or a portion of the frequency spectrum designated for PCS should be made available initially, taking into account issues such as the ones discussed in the previous paragraph and in Section 3. In addition to providing the basic level of compatibility with the use of PCS in the United States, comment is also solicited on whether it is appropriate to align the blocks of spectrum of the Canadian PCS plan with those chosen for use in the United States. The use of multiples of the smaller blocks of spectrum is a possible variation of this idea.

  2. Licence Exempt PCS Applications

    Industry Canada is designating the frequency band 1910 1930 MHz for licence exempt operations. The 10 MHz portion, 1910 1920  MHz, would be intended for asynchronous or data communication devices, and the 10 MHz portion, 1920 1930 MHz, for isochronous or voice applications. The possibility of the development of applications and handsets that would bridge the use of licensed spectrum and unlicensed spectrum operations would be recognized and encouraged. Appropriate measures would be introduced to enable the use of these communication devices based on the frequency spectrum that would be made available according to a Spectrum Transition Policy which will result from the comments solicited in section 5.

5. Proposal for a Spectrum Transition Policy

5.1 General Principles

The Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada issued in 1992 outlines among other things, the policy guidelines dealing with the allocation of spectrum resources and the displacement of radio systems. The Policy Framework states that the frequency spectrum is a public resource which needs to be allocated and planned to advance public policy objectives, and that access to the spectrum would be adapted to meet the changing user requirements and facilitate new and innovative services. Industry Canada's policy remains that a radio licence does not confer ownership or continued right to a particular radio frequency, and that reasonable notice is to be given to users of any conditions or circumstances which could result in the displacement of their services or systems to other bands. Moreover, there is no liability or responsibility or intent by Industry Canada to financially compensate spectrum users being displaced.

As established by public consultation, there is a strong public support and interest for the designation of frequency spectrum for new families of PCS in the 2 GHz range. Also, the public comment supports the development of a transitional mechanism to take into account the existing microwave facilities that need to be displaced to make available frequency spectrum for the implementation of PCS. This notice seeks public comment on the establishment of a Spectrum Transition Policy by presenting a transition proposal for discussion.

First, Industry Canada will undertake the following policy actions to resolve the frequency spectrum issues, as listed below:

  1. The Revised Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations, announced in Canada Gazette Notice No. DGTP-005-94 dated October 29, 1994, makes allocation for the implementation of mobile service such as PCS. The new footnote3 C35 in the Canadian Table establishes the inter-service provisions for the fixed and mobile allocations in the band 1850 1990 MHz.
  2. A series of revised Microwave Spectrum Utilization Policies will be issued which will include the re-arrangement of fixed (microwave) bands at 2 GHz to enable the implementation of new mobile systems such as PCS. The microwave spectrum policies will assist existing microwave users to take advantage of the availability of frequencies in the modified fixed bands, outside the frequency spectrum designated for PCS.
  3. Policy Provision: Effective immediately there is a moratorium on the licensing of new fixed microwave applications in the band 1850 1990 MHz.
  4. As outlined by this notice, a PCS Service and Spectrum Policy will be developed from the public comments received and will include provisions for a Spectrum Transition Policy.

5.2 Outline of Proposed Provisions for the Development of a Spectrum Transition Policy

First, a Spectrum Transition Policy developed according to the Spectrum Policy Framework Guidelines and policy actions stated above should provide for the release of frequency spectrum for PCS systems and displacement of fixed stations. The potential benefits of PCS to consumers in advancing wireless communications, providing greater choice of services and facilities, and fostering greater competition and business activities, is most promising and very much supportive of the objectives stated in the Telecommunications Act and the objectives for developing the Information Highway. On the other hand, the displacement of fixed (microwave) stations could be disruptive if not fairly dealt with. The following spectrum transition proposal, submitted for public discussion, recognizes these aspects, including the need to provide a reasonable period of notification for displacement of fixed stations balanced against public interest to proceed quickly with the introduction of PCS in the marketplace. Hence, the proposal outlines an approach regarding the displacement of fixed stations to make frequency spectrum available, where necessary, for PCS systems.

  1. Proposed Spectrum Transition Rules for Licensed PCS
    1. Notification for displacement of specific fixed stations to make spectrum available in certain geographical areas may be served after PCS licences have been awarded. Industry Canada reserves the right to issue earlier notification, where it believes this is necessary to allow timely deployment of PCS.
    2. The displacement date indicated in the notification should be based on the frequency spectrum requirements for the implementation of PCS. Industry Canada must be satisfied that the displacement and the associated date are critical to meet the PCS service dates and that reasonable frequency spectrum alternatives do not exist;
    3. In general, the notification period will be a minimum of two years, except for those fixed stations authorized for the sole purpose to carry critical safety and security services or traffic, where a minimum of three years will apply. Earlier displacement may be achieved through mutual agreements between the PCS operator or operators and the affected fixed station operator or operators. Also, Industry Canada may introduce measures for the earlier release of spectrum from older fixed station installations and/or incumbents deliberately delaying the availability of frequency spectrum for the competitive implementation of PCS.
    4. The fixed station operators must cease operation of the identified fixed stations on or before the displacement date indicated in the served notification or according to other arrangements acceptable to the parties involved. Except as noted above, a fixed station will not be required to be displaced before July 1, 1997, in accordance with footnote C35 unless agreed otherwise;
    5. If a PCS operator wishes to defer a notified displacement date, then an amendment to the notice of displacement should be issued at least one year prior to the displacement date in effect to allow the fixed operator the possibility to alter plans.

    In geographical areas where necessary sub-bands of spectrum are not available to implement PCS, licensed PCS operators will be expected to identify potential fixed stations that may prevent the implementation of PCS. Initially, there may be enough unused microwave channels in certain market areas to introduce licensed PCS, but eventually microwave facilities will need to be displaced. The PCS and fixed service operators will be encouraged to negotiate mutually acceptable displacement dates within the minimum periods outlined in Item 3 of this subsection. Industry Canada will retain oversight of the displacement process by issuing the displacement notifications and identifying new replacement frequency assignments for affected fixed stations.

    Some PCS licensees may also be operators of fixed stations which are candidates for displacement. In order to foster a level playing field amongst the licensed PCS operators and to make available the necessary spectrum, comment is invited on how the possible anti-competitive aspect of this situation should best be addressed.

    It should be noted that a delay in the use of released frequency spectrum by PCS licensees, after the committed PCS service date, will be viewed as a serious breach of service commitment, particularly if fixed stations were displaced prematurely.

  2. Proposed Spectrum Transition Considerations for Licence Exempt PCS Devices

    The implementation of licence exempt PCS devices can provide an opportunity to create manufacturing jobs in Canada. The willingness of Canadian industry to actively develop an approach to encourage the release of frequency spectrum will be a strong indicator of the interest of Canadian industry to be more than importers but also manufacturers of PCS devices.

    Initially there may be sufficient frequency spectrum unused in certain geographical areas in the frequency band 1910 1930 MHz to introduce non-nomadic licence exempt-devices. The operation of nomadic licence exempt PCS devices may not be feasible until contiguous sub-bands of spectrum are made available country-wide. The authorization of license exempt PCS devices presents particular challenges. It would be necessary to follow a spectrum etiquette similar to that developed by WinForum in the United States for self-regulation, and to develop a business plan for a responsible displacement of fixed stations, including, possibly, the formation of a responsible body of manufacturers and suppliers to facilitate the displacement of fixed stations, e.g., similar to UTAM Inc. in the United States.

    In the case of licence exempt PCS devices, the equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and in some cases large users, would be expected to identify potential fixed stations that may prevent the implementation of PCS devices. Industry Canada would establish whether there is appropriate demand in certain geographical areas to warrant the displacement of fixed systems in order to provide sub-bands of spectrum in the band 1910 1930 MHz. As a general rule, a minimum notification period of two years will be afforded to fixed stations that require displacement. Considerations similar to those discussed above in connection with licensed PCS are also proposed in the displacement of fixed stations.

6. Invitation to Comment

Submissions in response to this Canada Gazette notice should be addressed to the Director General, Telecommunications Policy Branch, Industry Canada, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C8, and must be received on or before January 16, 1995, to receive full consideration. All representations should cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, publication date, title and notice reference number.

Written comments received in response to this notice will be made available for viewing by the public two weeks after the closing date of this notice, during normal business hours, at the Industry Canada library, 365 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, and at the Regional Offices of Industry Canada at Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, for a period of one year from the close of the comment period.

Also, approximately two weeks after the close of the comment period, copies of the comments may be obtained, by mail order or over the counter, from ByPress Printing and Copy Centre Inc., 300 Slater Street, Unit 101A, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6A6, 613-234-8826. Reasonable costs of duplication will be charged.

October 28, 1994

M. Helm
Director General Telecommunications Policy Branch

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