Archived — Consultation Paper on the Possible Use of the Extended-Ku Spectrum Bands for Direct-to-Home (DTH) Satellite Broadcasting Services

December 2008
Spectrum Management and Telecommunications


  1. Intent
  2. Background
  3. Discussion
  4. Request for Public Comments

Consultation Paper on the Possible Use of the Extended-Ku Spectrum Bands for Direct-to-Home (DTH) Satellite Broadcasting Services
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1. Intent

As announced in Canada Gazette Notice DGTP-003-08, Industry Canada is releasing this consultation paper to seek comments on a request to use the extended-Ku spectrum bands (10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-11.7 GHz) for Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite broadcasting services in Canada which, if granted, would require amending the existing policy governing the use of the band.

A spectrum advisory bulletin (SAB-001-08) has been issued announcing a temporary moratorium on licensing in the bands 10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-11.7 GHz while the Department is assessing possible policy amendments to the extended-Ku bands.

2. Background

2.1 General

In 2004, the Department concluded a major review of the spectrum shared in the 330 GHz range between satellite and terrestrial services, as outlined in Spectrum Utilization Policy (SP) 330 GHz1. The review was intended as a long-term planning exercise, taking into account the requirements of both satellite and terrestrial services. As a result, certain bands were partitioned between the two services, granting priority access and use by one service over the other. In other cases, the bands were designated for co-primary shared use (i.e. having the same priority of access to the band) on a first-come, first-served (FCFS), individually coordinated2 and authorized basis. In general, comments from the industry supported harmonization of spectrum use with the United States as an important objective by both fixed-satellite service (FSS) and fixed service (FS) operators. Prior to the review, the use of the 11 GHz band by FSS had been limited by domestic footnote C16A3 to large antenna earth stations located in areas outside of urban centres. As per the SP 330 GHz, domestic footnote C16A is no longer applicable to the 11 GHz band.

The Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) provided divergent views on the use of the Ku frequency band. On the one hand, the FSS community supported coordination on a FCFS basis and did not foresee the requirement for ubiquitous deployment. On the other hand, the FS community thought that it was premature to remove the limitations placed on FSS deployment by domestic footnote C16A.

In its response to the consultation notice, Telesat Canada4 endorsed the view that FS and FSS systems should operate on a co-primary basis in the Ku frequency allotment and extension bands, with coordination between the services completed on a FCFS basis. Moreover, Telesat supported the view that the Canadian footnote C16A should be removed.

In 2005, Industry Canada held informal consultations with Canadian satellite users and user associations, with the objective of identifying and discussing Canadian satellite capacity needs that would arise over the subsequent five to six years. During these consultations, the Department also presented the spectrum/orbital resources that could be available to address these capacity requirements, in particular those for broadcasting.

2.2 Spectrum Resources

This subsection describes the allocation and usage of certain bands shared between the FS and FSS in the range 330 GHz, with a focus on the bands that may be used by wireless service providers for their FS applications.

For the 6 GHz band (5925-6425 MHz), the Department retained the FS and FSS allocations on a co-primary basis and provided greater flexibility, permitting varying capacity requirements to the deployment of FS systems. The restriction which limited the operation to high capacity applications was removed.

The 11 GHz portion of the Ku frequency band (10.7-11.7 GHz) is available for use by FS and FSS applications. Typical FS deployments have included single and multi-hop point-to-point radio systems across the entire 11 GHz frequency band. For the FSS, the sub-bands 10.7-10.95 GHz and 11.2-11.45 GHz are governed by the provisions and procedures of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations Appendix 30B Allotment Plan. In Canada, the Department has authorized two Canadian mobile-satellite operators the use of the allotment Ku bands to support their gateway feeder-link operations. The remaining Ku spectrum, 10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-11.7 GHz, are commonly called the extended-Ku bands. Below is a graphical representation of the 10.7-11.7 GHz band from the point of view of the satellite services.

Graph of 10.711.7 GHz band from the point of view of the satellite services

Use of the above-mentioned Ku bands was continued on a FCFS individually coordinated and authorized basis for both FS and FSS. Additional flexibility was given to FSS by removing domestic footnote C16A, which limited FSS to applications using large antennas in rural areas, and C41, which prescribed a pairing for the FSS band 11.45-11.7 GHz with 13.75-14.0 GHz.

In the case of satellite service, this licensing approach makes the 11 GHz band available for earth stations that are coordinated at the time of licensing with other stations already using the same band. The deployment of smalldish receivers throughout Canada operating on an uncoordinated basis, such as those found in the provision of DTH services, are not within the scope of applications contemplated in the current policy.

At 18 GHz, harmonization with the U.S. spectrum utilization designations was underscored. Consideration of the numerous sub-bands was complex and comprehensive. Although the FS and FSS share a co-primary allocation in many of the Ka sub-bands, the Department endeavoured to achieve flexibility of use by both services, but also decided to adopt the concept of soft-partitioning the spectrum, granting priority use of one service over the other service. In this fashion, access to the spectrum would not be removed, but would be limited to implementations that would not constrain the development of the service for which priority would be given. In short, in the bands 17.8-18.3 GHz and 19.3-19.7 GHz, use of the FS has priority over use of the FSS in the space-to-Earth direction, whereas in the band 18.3-19.3 GHz, use of the FSS has priority over use of the FS.

Although not shared between FS and FSS, the 15 GHz band is the subject of a separate consultation relevant to parties interested in the 11 GHz band. The band 14.5-15.35 GHz is allocated to the FS on a primary basis, and to the mobile service on a secondary basis for the exclusive use of the Government of Canada. The band is currently being used by incumbent wireless carriers for their fixed system applications and by the Government of Canada for its mobile service requirements. The Government of Canada has recently identified a need for the exclusive Canada-wide use of the sub-band pair 14.660-14.820 GHz and 15.135-15.295 GHz5.

In general, the 6, 11, 15 and 18 GHz bands are being used for, and have demonstrated strong growth in, the deployment of FS systems. These FS systems support, in large part, the transfer of telecommunications traffic between fixed antenna sites and switches (e.g. backhaul) for wireless service providers, providing cellular, personal communications services (PCS) and, in the future, advanced wireless services (AWS) such as third- and fourth-generation cellular systems.

3. Discussion

3.1 DTH Services

Telesat Canada is authorized to use the extended-Ku band for the provision of telecommunication services on its Anik F1 satellite located at the 107.3° W orbital position, and recently received approval to develop the band at the 111.1° W orbital position. In addition, Telesat is proposing to use the spectrum to provide capacity to Canadian broadcasting undertakings for the expansion of services, including for the implementation of high-definition television (HDTV).

During the 2006 Call for Applications6, Shaw Communications Inc. (on behalf of its affiliate Star Choice), provided support to Telesat in its efforts to secure the award of the extended-Ku band frequencies at the 111.1° W position. Star Choice stated that expansion capacity would soon be required to meet increased consumer demands and to provide more robust in-orbit satellite backup options. To remain competitive, Star Choice further stated that it must be capable of maximizing the penetration of HDTV programming throughout Canada, and particularly to rural areas. Furthermore, Star Choice had determined that expanding into the adjacent extended-Ku bands would be the most technically compatible with its current system. In addition, growing into a contiguous frequency band at the current 107.3° W and 111.1° W orbital positions would provide significant benefits in terms of ground segment infrastructure, which would result in the best possible economic costs for the 870,000 Canadian households served.

Star Choice currently leases its DTH capacity from Telesat on its satellites operating from the 107.3° W and 111.1° W orbital positions utilizing the "conventional" Ku fixed-satellite spectrum resource (11.7-12.2 GHz). The DTH business is generally predicated on the use of small receiver consumer antennas. The allocation to the FSS at conventional Ku, which is not shared with other services, permits ubiquitous deployment of these licence-exempt receivers with no concern of interference from the FS.

Bell ExpressVu, Canada's other satellite television service provider, utilizes the broadcasting-satellite service (BSS) allocation in the 12 GHz range (12.2-12.7 GHz). It has been generally accepted by many direct broadcast satellite operators and service providers that the chosen growth path for new broadcasting capacity is in the exploitation of the new 17 GHz band (17.3-17.8 GHz), which is allocated to the BSS on a priority basis in ITU Region 2. Star Choice also indicated that the 17 GHz BSS band will be valuable in the longer term for additional capacity of its services from the 107.3° W and 111.1° W orbital positions. However, systems have not yet been deployed in the 17 GHz BSS band.

3.2 Non-Standard Systems

In Canada, applications for radio systems which do not conform7 to the most recent issue of the relevant SP/radio systems policy (RP) or the Standard Radio System Plan (SRSP) are dealt with on their own merits on a case-by-case basis. Non-standard radio systems are subject to modification or replacement if their non-standard aspects prevent the establishment of a new system or the expansion of an existing system that is standard. Alternatively, it may be necessary to remove the non-standard system from service to permit the entry of a standard system. The licensing of systems that do not conform to the applicable policy or standards is regarded by the Department as an infrequent occurrence justified by special circumstances. Also, the licensing of non-standard systems is subject to the conditions of no protection from and noninterference to standard systems (i.e. it is the responsibility of licensees of non-standard systems to ensure that the operation of their stations do not constrain the operations of the standard systems).

It should be noted that the deployment and use of any system, standard or non-standard, must also take into account the radio environment and operations of neighbouring countries. Canadian licensees must consider, on a bilateral basis, U.S. terrestrial systems and, on an international basis, satellite systems, both of which can require extensive coordination to establish the condition of compatible operation. In September 2007, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Report and Order8 (Order) permitting FS operators in the 10.7-11.7 GHz band to install and use smaller antennas. As a result of this decision, the number of U.S. terrestrial stations along the border is expected to increase in the near future.

In 2004, the FCC issued an Order and Authorization9 granting EchoStar Satellite LLC authority to use the extended-Ku band frequencies to provide, among other services, DTH broadcasting in the U.S. market. However, this authorization was granted under certain terms, conditions and technical specifications, notably (a) EchoStar shall operate its receive-only earth station on a non-interference basis relative to FS stations and shall not claim protection from harmful interference from any authorized FS stations to which frequencies are either already assigned, or may be assigned in the future; and (b) EchoStar is required to inform its customers in writing, including end-users receiving service from resellers accessing capacity, that the service is being provided on an uncoordinated basis, and of the potential for interference from FS operations.

4. Request for Public Comments

1. (a) The Department seeks comments as to whether the spectrum utilization policy of the Ku frequency band 10.7-11.7 GHz should be changed to accommodate the provisioning of DTH services and, if so, what the designated use for each of the sub-bands should be.

(b) More specifically, should the designation be as requested in section 3.1 above, namely that the extended-Ku bands 10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-11.7 GHz be designated only to the fixed-satellite service, and the bands 10.7-10.95 GHz and 11.2-11.45 GHz continue to be designated to the fixed-satellite and fixed services under the current policy stipulations?

If these designations are made as described in 1(b) above:

2. Should they (a) be for a limited duration, and (b) be made conditional on the bringing into use the extended-Ku bands for DTH services within a specified period of time?

3. Comments are sought as to the disposition of the current fixed service licensees in the extended-Ku bands. Should they be permitted to continue operating in these bands and, if so, under what conditions?

4. Comments are sought as to whether the future capacity requirements of the fixed service can be accommodated in other fixed service allocations at 6, 15, 18 GHz and the remaining portions of the 11 GHz Ku band. Are these bands suitable and is there sufficient spectrum to accommodate any potentially displaced fixed service systems from the extended-Ku bands?

5. Comments are sought on the coordination requirements with fixed systems in the U.S. and coordination with other FSS systems.

If these designations are not made as described in 1(b) above:

6. Should consideration be given to authorizing the use of the extended-Ku bands to provide DTH services on a non-standard basis (i.e. receive-only earth stations shall not claim protection from harmful interference from any current and future authorized fixed service stations)?

7. Comments are sought on how the near-term DTH capacity requirements can be met.

Issued under the authority of the Radiocommunication Act

December 22, 2008

Leonard St-Aubin
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch

1 Spectrum Utilization Policy (SP 3-30 GHz) Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 330 GHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation (

2 Frequency coordination Radio systems must be planned and designed so that harmful interference does not occur to existing licensed radio systems. The frequency coordination process is intended to enable licensees to confirm that proposed radio systems meet this criterion. Frequency coordination may be based on mutually acceptable technical criteria, including relevant recommendations of the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). Frequency growth plans for existing and proposed stations, which have been provided to the Department, are to be taken into consideration in the coordination process.

3 C16A [as worded prior to review] - The use of spectrum for fixed-satellite services in the bands 4500-4800 MHz, 10.7-11.45 GHz and 17.8-19.7 GHz in the space-to-Earth direction, and 6725-7025 MHz, 12.75-13.25 GHz and 28.35-29.5 GHz in the Earth-to-space direction is presently limited to large antenna earth stations located in areas outside of urban centres. Domestic implementation of fixed-satellite services in these bands will be governed by spectrum utilization policies which will be formulated in the future. These policies will consider existing services, ITU Radio Regulations and operating criteria for sharing between services and systems.

4 Comments Received on Canada Gazette Notice DGTP-008-04 Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 3-30 GHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation:

5See Canada Gazette Notice DGTP-004-08 - Consultation Paper on Using a Portion of the Band 14.5-15.35 GHz for Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) Systems.

6See Canada Gazette Notice DGRB-001-06 Call for Applications to License Satellite Orbital Positions.

7See Industry Canada publications RP-Gen and SP-Gen.

8FCC Report and Order FCC 07-163.

9FCC Order and Authorization DA 04-3163.

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