August 8, 2019
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The intent of this notice is to seek comments regarding an application received from Globalstar Canada Satellite Co. (Globalstar Canada) for authority to provide Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) mobile services over 16.5 MHz of its licensed Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) spectrum in the 2.4 GHz band (2483.5-2500 MHz).
In its application, Globalstar Canada is requesting that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) adopt similar operational requirements and technical rules as identified by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in its 2016 Report and Order (FCC 16-181, Terrestrial Use of the 2473-2495 MHz Band for Low-Power Mobile Broadband Networks; Amendments to Rules for the Ancillary Terrestrial Component of Mobile Satellite Service Systems). The operational requirements allow Globalstar, Inc. (Globalstar), Globalstar Canada’s parent company, to provide low-power ancillary terrestrial mobile services over its licensed MSS spectrum.
2. Canadian ATC policy
The 2004 Radio System Policy, RP-023, Spectrum and Licensing Policy to Permit Ancillary Terrestrial Mobile Services as Part of Mobile-Satellite Service Offerings established a set of spectrum and licensing policy principles to oversee the implementation of ATC as an integral part of the MSS offering. The principles provided guidance for the deployment of ATC mobile applications in conjunction with any MSS network operating in the “L-band” (1525-1559 MHz and 1626.5-1660.5 MHz), “2 GHz band” (2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz) and “Big LEO bands” (1610-1626.5 MHz and 2483.5-2500 MHz). RP-023 was updated in 2014 only to remove the 2 GHz band, reflecting the publishing of SLPB-008-14, Decision on a Policy, Technical and Licensing Framework for Mobile Satellite Service and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS-4) in the Bands 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz (2 GHz Decision) as a separate document. The 2014 revision of RP-023 did not update the ATC policy for the remaining frequency bands.
Under the current 2014 version of RP-023, issue 2, ATC systems are required to be offered as an integral part of the MSS within the assigned spectrum of the MSS network. ATC systems are also limited to operations within their satellite coverage and service areas in Canada, and only “forward-band mode” is permitted. As defined in the RP-023, Annex, part A, section 1, the forward-band mode means that the base stations transmit in the satellite downlink band and receive in the satellite uplink band. RP-023 also stipulates that ATC operations are to be subordinate to the MSS and the ATC operator is required to offer only dual-mode terminals that are capable of communicating with both the mobile satellite network and the ATC network.
ISED recognizes that ATC applications have evolved significantly since the development of RP-023 in 2004. ATC, as originally envisioned, was intended to support extension of the primarily voice MSS to areas where MSS signals could not reach. Since then, technology, networks and applications have advanced considerably and newer, more data-focused ATC applications have emerged. These applications include higher speed voice and data, support of Internet-of-Things deployments, deployment of small cells in support of other mobile networks, and private long-term evolution (LTE) networks. Many of these applications will support the deployment of innovative 5G services and provide an opportunity for improved services through additional capacity while remaining compatible with the ongoing delivery of the primary MSS.
3. Policy and technical considerations
Satellite communication continues to be an important component of the Canadian telecommunications infrastructure, contributing to communication and safety services in many dispersed and remote communities and areas in Canada. Globalstar Canada is an active supplier of MSS communications and rescue services in Canada and has recently upgraded its ground equipment and satellite fleet with second-generation satellites. As required by RP-023, Globalstar Canada has attested to its intent to maintain its MSS in Canada.
The current version of RP-023 requires the implementation of dual-mode user equipment. However, in recognition of the evolution of ATC technology, ISED removed this requirement for the 2 GHz band in the 2 GHz Decision. The removal of this requirement was motivated by the fact that no cost effective dual-mode user equipment ecosystem had emerged and by the view that the imposition of MSS delivery requirements would be sufficient to ensure the ongoing delivery of MSS in the absence of a dual-mode requirement. ISED believes that similar factors are applicable in the Big LEO bands and that there would be no adverse impacts in also permitting the removal of the dual-mode requirement for Globalstar Canada in the 2483.5-2500 MHz band.
Recent standardization activities driven by Globalstar have demonstrated its commitment to developing and deploying the proposed ATC systems. In December 2018, Globalstar completed the process of establishing a standard for a time division duplexing (TDD) LTE equipment ecosystem in “Band 53” within Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Band 53 equipment is currently being certified in the U.S. Globalstar has requested ATC authorizations in many other jurisdictions and has already received authorization from two administrations, including the U.S.
In its application, Globalstar Canada indicates plans to deploy stand-alone, low-power TDD LTE ATC systems operating in “downlink duplex mode” (also referred to as “non-forward band” mode) in a small cell configuration in its MSS downlink spectrum (2483.5-2500 MHz). ISED proposes to allow this “non-forward band” mode of operation by adopting the same technical rules for the band as in the U.S. The technical rules include power limitations, the use of a Network Operating System (NOS) for controlling base stations, and limits on unwanted emissions in order to avoid and mitigate harmful interference concerns.
ISED is considering this application in advance of a more comprehensive review of RP-023 given the limited changes being requested by Globalstar Canada and the opportunity to provide additional services. Enabling the additional use of the 2483.5-2500 MHz band for ATC will improve the use of this mid-band spectrum by providing Canadian business and consumers with access to innovative applications and increased capacity while ensuring continuity of existing MSS.
4. ATC licences, fees and annual reporting
As per the decision in RP-023, spectrum licences are to be issued for ATC systems and are to be subject to spectrum licence fees to be established through a separate public consultation process. Noting that this public consultation process on spectrum fees has not taken place yet, a spectrum licencing approach and associated fee order have not been established for various types of ATC systems.
As an interim measure, ISED proposes to continue to require site-specific radio station licences and associated fees prior to deployment of each installation until a spectrum licencing approach and associated fees have been established.
The applicable licence fees for each site licence will be based on section 72, Fixed Station Communicating with a Station not Otherwise Described, as set out in schedule III, Part III, item 1, of the Radiocommunication Regulations. The fee for each assigned transmit or receive frequency “channel” would be $41 per “channel". For a transmitter and receiver using the same frequency channel, the fee would be $82. Each site will be considered to be using a single bi-directional channel.
Note also that these fees are subject to the Service Fees Act and will be adjusted periodically beginning March 15, 2020. The licensee will be required to pay the annual fee on or before March 31 of each year for the subsequent year (April 1 to March 31).
Once a spectrum licence fee order is in effect and a spectrum licence issued, the site-specific radio station licences will be cancelled.
Should ISED decide to grant the request made by Globalstar Canada to allow low-power ATC operations, Conditions of Licence will be developed to reflect the requirements mentioned in section 3 above and further described in the Globalstar Canada application, in addition to other requirements set forth in RP-023.
ISED is also proposing to have an annual reporting requirement that would oblige Globalstar Canada to provide summary information of the number and location of stations operating.
5. Submitting comments
ISED is soliciting comments and feedback on whether Globalstar Canada’s application should be approved and on sections 3 and 4 of this notice. Feedback on sections 3 and 4 will be helpful in developing proposals for future consultations on comprehensive amendments to RP-023.
To ensure consideration, parties should submit their comments no later than 45 days after publication of this notice. Respondents are encouraged to submit their comments in electronic format (Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF) by email (email@example.com).
All submissions should cite the publication date and the title of this notice. Soon after the close of the comment period, all comments received will be posted on ISED’s Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website.
As all comments will be published, parties should not provide confidential or private information in submissions.
All comments will be reviewed and considered by ISED in order to arrive at a decision regarding the above-mentioned request. The decision will be posted at on ISED’s Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website.
Engineering Planning and Standards Branch