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SAB-001-07 — Spectrum Planning Activities and Review of the 1995 Transitional Digital Radio Policy

May 28, 2007

Mr. Michel Arpin
Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting
Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
Central Building
1 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0N2

Dear Mr. Arpin:

Subject: Spectrum Planning Activities and Review of the 1995 Transitional Digital Radio Policy

I would like to commend the Commission for proceeding to review its transitional policy for digital radio broadcasting (DRB), as announced in the Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC-2006-160. This advisory letter, by Industry Canada, is submitted on the public record in response to the above-mentioned Notice.

The transitional policy established by the Commission and the L-band (1452–1492 MHz) DRB allotment plan developed by the department have been in place since 1995. The actual roll-out of L-band DRB to date has been slow for several reasons cited in the Notice, including: limited availability and relatively high cost of the L-band DRB receivers in the market; lack of different radio programming in the L-band; and the emergence of new digital technologies and distribution platforms. The department notes that for these reasons, the Commission has concluded that a review of the provisions for DRB is necessary.

Moreover, the department agrees that a new service model will need to be developed for DRB and that the in-band on-channel (IBOC) technology, already adopted in the U.S., may play a part in that model. IBOC enables the transition to digital without consuming additional spectrum. It also allows for the provision of supplementary program information and multicast services.

The department concurs with the need to reassess the L-band DRB, noting that in terms of global developments, it no longer appears to be part of the solution for the radio broadcasting move to digital. Instead, there is a definite trend toward enabling more comprehensive multimedia applications in this band.

In light of these developments, the department will undertake a public consultation to review the L-band allocation and to determine whether an expanded scope for flexible use of the band would be beneficial. As well, the department is currently developing a standard for the implementation of IBOC.

In order to facilitate the public consultation on the future of L-band, effective immediately, the department will apply the following criteria when receiving applications for broadcasting certificates:

  • no broadcasting certificates will be granted for new L-band DRB stations;
  • the department will not grant broadcasting certificates for L-band DRB stations that have not been implemented, including subscription radio stations.

Further, in April 2004, the department sent a letter to the Commission in response to its national multi-channel subscription broadcasting proceeding. In that letter, the department indicated that it would be prepared to make some spectrum available in the band 1 492–1 499 MHz to accommodate the requirements of a terrestrial subscription radio service. This was done to address the anticipated lack of free channels in the allotment plan for DRB systems in the Windsor to Montreal corridor. To date, this system has not been implemented and, therefore, the department will not grant a broadcasting certificate within the band 1 492–1 499 MHz.

The forthcoming consultation will deal with the issues of incumbent DAB stations currently operating in the band as well as any associated transition requirements.

We will keep you and your staff informed as this file moves forward.


Michael Binder
Assistant Deputy Minister
Spectrum, Information Technologies
and Telecommunications Sector

c.c. Ron Parker, Visiting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy Sector

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