SAB-003-10 — Use of the Frequency Bands 18.8–19.3 GHz and 28.6–29.1 GHz by the Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS)

May 2010


Satellite communications systems may employ either geostationary (GSO) satellite networks or non-geostationary (NGSO) satellite networks. GSO satellites utilize a circular orbit above the Earth's equator and, given their altitude of approximately 36,000 km, maintain the same position relative to the Earth's surface. On the other hand, NGSO satellites generally have orbits with varying altitudes and positions. It is generally recognized that GSO and NGSO satellite networks operating on a co-frequency basis are not technically compatible without interference mitigation mechanisms being employed by one or the other satellite system. Therefore, different frequency bands are typically allocated on a primary basis to each type of satellite radiocommunication service.

In order to accommodate the interest in NGSO fixed-satellite networks, at the International Telecommunication Union's 1995 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-95), the frequency bands 18.8-19.3 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 28.6-29.1 GHz (Earth-to-space) were allocated to the FSS on a primary basis to GSO and NGSO satellite networks.

Although Canada accepted the international frequency allocations, domestic implementation is subject to the formulation of a spectrum utilization policy. Industry Canada recognizes that spectrum policy decisions in other countries, particularly in the United States, will have an impact on how the spectrum will be designated for FSS systems. These decisions will be taken into consideration in the designation and authorization of spectrum for particular systems and technologies. 1 While the Department aligned its spectrum allocations between satellite and terrestrial services with the United States, it did not finalize the differentiation between FSS system implementations. Conversely, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to make this differentiation and designated the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz to NGSO-FSS on a primary basis in the United States. It should also be noted that both the FCC and Industry Canada have been licensing GSO FSS networks on a primary basis in the bands 18.3-18.8 GHz and 19.7-20.2 GHz.

Recent Developments

Despite the international designation in the mid-1990s, the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz have remained underutilized in the North American market. However, over the last couple of years, in the United States, the FCC has granted authorizations to both NGSO-FSS and GSO-FSS systems utilizing the frequency bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz. The U.S. licensee of the NGSO-FSS system has primary operating authority, while non-U.S. satellite operators have been granted market access to the United States using their respective GSO-FSS system on a non-conforming, non-interference, secondary basis with respect to NGSO-FSS systems, and other systems, operating in accordance with the FCC's Rules.

More recently, in Canada, a number of satellite entities have expressed interest to the Department in gaining access to the above-mentioned bands for the deployment of GSO-FSS networks. These parties have requested that Industry Canada launch a public consultation with a view to developing a spectrum utilization policy.


As previously stated, the Department recognizes the importance of harmonizing spectrum use in a North American market, particularly for satellite services. Industry Canada is of the view that regional developments play an important role in determining access to spectrum for FSS networks in Canada. Although NGSO systems have yet to be implemented in the North American market, the Department notes the recent authorizations granted in the United States to these types of FSS systems. Therefore, the Department will continue to monitor these developments before initiating a process to establish a definitive spectrum utilization policy for these frequency bands.

The Department is, however, willing to consider applications proposing the use of the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz by GSO-FSS systems on a non-standard basis, without prejudice to the development of any future spectrum policy. It should also 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, such as the United States. Canadian licensees should consider the requirement for coordination to establish the conditions of compatible operation.

Issued under the authority
of the Radiocommunication Act

Director General
Engineering, Planning and Standards Branch

1 See domestic footnotes C16E and C16F.

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