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Proposed Spectrum Utilization Policy, Technical and Licensing Requirements for Wireless Broadband Services (WBS) in the Band 3650–3700 MHz

August 2006
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications

Table of Contents

  1. Intent
  2. Background
  3. U.S. Status
  4. Canadian Allocations
  5. Incumbent Licences
  6. Applications in Canada
  7. Licensing Approach
  8. Licence Term
  9. Technical Considerations
  10. International Coordination

Appendix A - Proposed Conditions of Licence

Appendix B– Proposed Spectrum Licence Fees for Wireless Broadband Services in the Band 3650-3700 MHz – Tier 4 (Estimated)

1. Intent

This document, announced in Canada Gazette notice DGTP -006-06, initiates a public consultation on accommodating new Wireless Broadband Services (WBS) in the band 3650-3700 MHz. The proposals outlined in this spectrum policy paper seek to address the eligibility, licensing, technical and service issues to accommodate fixed and mobile services in this band.

Industry Canada invites interested parties to provide their views and comments on the issues raised in this paper, in accordance with the instructions provided in the accompanying Gazette notice, DGTP‑006-06. Submissions must be received no later than October 27, 2006 to ensure consideration.

2. Background

In August 1998, Industry Canada released the document Spectrum Policy and Licensing Provisions for Fixed Wireless Access Systems in Rural Areas in the Frequency Range 3400-3700 MHz, SP 3400‑3700 MHz, (DGTP-013-098) which provided Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) spectrum to radiocommunication carriers on a first-come, first-served (FCFS) basis in rural and high-cost serving areas. Licences issued under the FCFS policy had one-year terms with a six-month implementation requirement, and did not include transferability or divisibility rights.

In February and April 2003 respectively, two Gazette notices - Restructuring the Spectrum in the Band 3400-3650 MHz to More Effectively Accommodate Fixed and Radiolocation Services (DGTP-002-03) and Expansion of Spectrum for Fixed Wireless Access in the 3500 MHz Range (DGTP-006-03) were issued announcing rearrangements of the spectrum in the band 3400-3650 MHz to better accommodate FWA systems and radiolocation operations.

In September 2003, the Department released Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of Spectrum Licences in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz Bands and later auctioned 175 MHz in the band 3475‑3650 MHz. Three block pairs (25+25 MHz), as well as a stand-alone 25 MHz block, were auctioned. At the time, the Department noted that there was a strong possibility that the U.S. would deploy licence-exempt devices in the band 3650-3700 MHz.

In October 2004, the Department released Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 3-30 GHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation (DGTP-008-04). In this paper, the Department requested comments on whether to make the band 3650-3700 MHz available for licence-exempt applications. Comments were also sought on the types of systems and services that could be implemented in the band noting the availability of licensed spectrum in the adjacent bands. The Department also sought comments on the measures that should be introduced for the treatment of incumbent licences, noting the existing policy for the accommodation of FWA services in the band 3500-3650 MHz.

Comments supported general harmonization with the U.S. as being in the best interest of Canadians. The Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) urged the Department to undertake a full consultative review of the band during which time the specific questions raised could be more adequately addressed. Concern was also expressed about possible harmful interference caused by licence-exempt devices to licensed satellite, broadcast and fixed systems and that these devices must be sufficiently constrained to remove this possibility both within the band and in the adjacent band 3700-4200 MHz. It was suggested that stringent out-of-band emission limits designed to protect adjacent licensed services, along with type‑approval certification on any proposed unlicensed device be imposed.

Consequently, the Department is proceeding with this consultation to introduce new Wireless Broadband Services in the band 3650-3700 MHz.

3. U.S. Status

In March 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules to open access to new spectrum for wireless broadband applications in the band 3650-3700 MHz. The Commission adopted a hybrid approach that draws from both the Commission's unlicensed and licensed regulatory models and provides for nationwide, non-exclusive licensing of terrestrial operations in the band, utilizing technologies employing contention-based protocols.

The Commission kept the existing allocations for the band, grandfathering previously licensed primary incumbent FSS earth station operations and three Federal Government radiolocation stations, entitling them to interference protection from new wireless licensees. To protect these incumbent operations, the Commission established circular protection zones around them – 150 km for FSS earth stations and 80 km for Federal Government stations – and prohibited new terrestrial licensees from operating within these zones unless they negotiate agreements with the incumbents. The Commission determined that new FSS stations should be allowed on a secondary basis, and denied several petitions for reconsideration of an earlier decision in this proceeding that established the existing fixed-satellite service (FSS), fixed service (FS) and mobile service (MS) allocations.

The Commission also concluded that there should be no eligibility restrictions (other than the statutory foreign ownership restrictions) and no in-band or out-of-band spectrum aggregation limits. Licensees will receive a ten-year licence with the right to renew and will be free to assign and transfer their non‑exclusive nationwide licences.

However, the FCC licensing scheme, particularly non-exclusive licensing and the requirement to employ contention-based protocols, are currently the subject of a number of Petitions for Reconsideration. In addition, the Commission has been petitioned to decrease the permitted in-band power levels and to tighten adjacent band emission limits to better protect FSS earth stations operating in the band above 3700 MHz.

4. Canadian Allocations

In Canada, the band 3500-4200 MHz is currently allocated to the fixed and fixed-satellite (space‑to‑Earth) services on a primary basis. In SP 3-30 GHz, the Department indicated that it would make new spectrum available in the band 3650-3700 MHz once a U.S. decision was made. Comments from industry advised that harmonization with the U.S. would best serve Canadians whatever decision was made. As indicated above, the U.S. has opted to deploy licensed operations by fixed and mobile services in the band 3650-3700 MHz primarily for wireless Internet service applications. As such, the Department is making a primary allocation to the mobile service in the band 3650-3700 MHz to support Wireless Broadband Services applications.

The Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations illustrates the revised allocation status for the band 3500‑4200 MHz.

3 500 – 3 650 MHz
FIXED-SATELLITE (space-to-Earth)
3 650 – 3 700 MHz
FIXED-SATELLITE (space-to-Earth)
3 700 – 4 200 MHz
FIXED-SATELLITE (space-to-Earth)
C18 (CAN-03)
The band 3 450-3 650 MHz is designated for fixed wireless access applications under the fixed service allocation.
C20 (CAN-03)
In the band 3 500-3 650 MHz, the fixed-satellite earth-stations will be located in areas so as not to constrain the implementation of fixed wireless access systems.

5. Incumbent Licences

5.1 Point-to-Point Systems

In 1998, the Department opened the band 3400-3550 MHz to license FWA systems in rural areas on an FCFS basis under SP 3400-3700 MHz. The Department made the provision that new point-to-point systems would not be authorized in the band 3500-3700 MHz. A further policy provision was established at that time which permitted extensions and/or expansions of existing systems that required the use of assignments in the band 3500-3700 MHz, on a case-by-case basis outside of urban areas. Since that time, several point-to-point systems have been retired from service.

Prior to the auction of spectrum in the bands 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz (September 2003), the Department imposed a moratorium on the licensing of point-to-point systems in the band 3500‑3650 MHz. Existing point‑to‑point systems in the band 3500-3650 MHz were subject to a transition policy.

The Department now proposes that existing point-to-point systems in the band 3650-3700 MHz be grandfathered or displaced. Should point-to-point systems be grandfathered, extensions and/or expansions of these systems could be permitted on a case-by-case basis, only outside of urban areas. If these systems are displaced, the Department proposes to implement transition policy principles similar to those outlined in Appendix 3 of the Policy and Licensing Procedures for the Auction of Spectrum Licences in the 2300 MHz and 3500 MHz Bands (DGRB-003-03).

The Department proposes to either grandfather or displace existing point-to-point systems in the band 3650-3700 MHz. Further, extensions and/or expansions of grandfathered systems on a case‑by‑case basis, outside of urban areas, may be permitted.

Comments are invited on whether point-to-point systems in the band 3650-3700 MHz should be grandfathered or displaced and what conditions should apply in either case.

5.2 Fixed-satellite Service

The band 3500-4200 MHz is allocated to the fixed service and fixed-satellite service on a co-primary basis. Traditionally, authorization of FSS earth stations for domestic and Canada-U.S. traffic has been in the conventional C-band (3700-4200 MHz).Footnote 1 However, some authorizations of earth stations using foreign satellites providing international overseas traffic have included the extended C-band 3500‑3700 MHz.

The Department currently limits the authorization of new FSS earth stations in the band 3500-3650 MHz to large antenna applications such as gateways located in remote areas outside urban centres. The Department proposes that this limit extend into the band 3650-3700 MHz. Furthermore, the Department proposes that any future FSS receive earth stations in the band 3650-3700 MHz operate on a secondary basis.

Operators planning to establish systems in the vicinity of existing FSS receive earth stations would be required to coordinate with the earth station operators. Currently, there are FSS receive earth stations located in Weir, Quebec (Laurentides) in the band 3650-3700 MHz.

The Department proposes that FSS receive earth stations located at Weir, Quebec be grandfathered. Operators wishing to establish wireless access systems within a 150 km radius of these earth stations would be required to coordinate with the earth station operators.

The Department further proposes that any future FSS receive earth stations in the band 3650‑3700 MHz operate on a secondary basis.

Comments are invited on this proposal.

6. Applications in Canada

The Department wishes to ensure that there are minimal regulatory barriers in order to encourage new entrants and to stimulate the rapid expansion of wireless broadband applications in the band 3650‑3700 MHz.

The Department proposes that new licensees be permitted to deploy a full range of fixed and mobile applications (i.e. point-to-multipoint or point-to-point).

The Department seeks comments on types of wireless broadband applications which may be deployed in Canada in the near future.


  1. back to footnote reference 1 Technical limits to protect adjacent band systems, including conventional C-band earth stations, are discussed in Section 9.

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