- 1. Intent
- 2. Mandate
- 3. Legislation
- 4. Policy objectives
- 5. Background and context
- 6. New spectrum utilization policy for the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz
- 7. Changes to the spectrum utilization policy for the bands 17.3-17.7 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz
- 8. Comments on Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM)
- 9. Obtaining copies
- Annex A: Modifications to the CTFA for the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz
- Annex B: Modifications to the CTFA for the bands 17.3-17-7 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz
1. Through the release of this document, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) on behalf of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (the Minister), announces the decisions resulting from the consultation process undertaken in the October 2018 Canada Gazette notice SMSE-016-18, Consultation on the Utilization of the Bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz, and the Bands 17.3-17.7 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz by the Fixed-Satellite Service (the Consultation).
- Bell Mobility (Bell)
- Ciel Satellite LP Limited Partnership (Ciel) and Affiliates SES S.A. (SES) and O3b Limited, (O3b) (Ciel and Affiliates)
- Hughes, Inmarsat, Ciel Limited Partnership
- Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC)
- Rogers Communications (Rogers)
- Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX)
- Telesat Canada (Telesat)
- Viasat Inc. (Viasat)
- Xplornet Communications Inc. (Xplornet)
3. The Minister through the Department of Industry Act, the Radiocommunication Act and the Radiocommunication Regulations, with due regard to the objectives of the Telecommunications Act, is responsible for spectrum management in Canada. As such, the Minister is responsible for developing goals and national policies for spectrum utilization and for ensuring the effective management of the radio frequency spectrum resource.
4. The Minister is provided the general powers for spectrum management in Canada pursuant to section 5 of the Radiocommunication Act and sections 4 and 5 of the Department of Industry Act. The Governor in Council may make regulations with respect to spectrum management pursuant to section 6 of the Radiocommunication Act. These regulations have been prescribed under the Radiocommunication Regulations.
4. Policy objectives
5. ISED is committed to ensuring that Canadian consumers, businesses and public institutions continue to benefit from the latest wireless telecommunications services across the country. A robust wireless telecommunications industry drives the adoption and use of digital technologies and enhances the productivity of the Canadian economy and its international competitiveness. Satellites are a key component of the Canadian wireless telecommunications industry. The development and deployment of advanced satellite networks is essential to the creation and strengthening of a world-leading wireless infrastructure in Canada and the provision of high-quality and innovative wireless services to Canadians.
6. In developing this decision document, ISED has been guided by the policy objectives of the Telecommunications Act and, in particular, by the Spectrum Policy Framework for Canada (SPFC), which states that the objective of the spectrum program is to maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from the use of the radio frequency spectrum resource. The SPFC’s guidelines also underscore that spectrum policy and management should permit the flexible use of spectrum to the extent possible and support the efficient functioning of markets by harmonizing spectrum use with international allocations and standards, except where Canadian interests warrant a different determination. These objectives and enabling guidelines, as listed in the SPFC, remain relevant for guiding ISED in fulfilling its spectrum management mandate.
7. In addition, ISED is guided by the policy objectives outlined in Radio Systems Policy RP-008, Policy Framework for Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) and Broadcasting-Satellite Service (BSS). Canada faces unique geographical challenges, including a widely dispersed population and many rural and remote communities. In this context, satellites play a vital role in Canada’s telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructure in that they are currently the only means of reaching some of these communities, many of which are located in the North. In licensing commercial satellites, ISED’s primary objectives are ensuring that Canadian satellite users have access to the satellite capacity they need to carry out their respective functions and that services are available throughout Canada, including the North.
8. Finally, through Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan and its focus on people, technologies and companies, the Government of Canada is committed to promoting innovation-led growth across all sectors of the Canadian economy. Decisions made arising from the Consultation will support the Innovation and Skills Plan priorities and the SPFC policy objective and guidelines by facilitating the deployment and timely availability of services across the country.
5. Background and context
9. The Consultation described the significant changes that continue to impact the satellite industry, including the reemergence of non-geostationary (NGSO) systems and the convergence of fixed, broadcast and mobile satellite services. In this dynamic environment, it is vital for international and domestic regulatory frameworks to provide certainty and stability for incumbent service providers, while at the same time enabling innovation and the provision of new services and applications. The Consultation highlighted the need to support both geostationary (GSO) satellite networks and NGSO satellite constellations, given the role both are expected to play in delivering high-speed Internet connectivity and other innovative services and applications for all Canadians.
10. The Consultation noted that while the frequency bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz are allocated to the fixed-satellite service (FSS), a spectrum utilization policy on the prioritization of GSO or NGSO use of these bands was an outstanding item from the publication, in 2004, of Spectrum Utilization Policy SP 3-30 GHz, Revisions to Spectrum Utilization Policies in the 3-30 GHz Frequency Range and Further Consultation. The SP 3-30 GHz policy deferred a decision on prioritization until usage of these bands by the FSS matured. As well, while Spectrum Advisory Bulletin 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), published in 2010, allowed for the licensing of both GSO and NGSO FSS on a non-standard basis, ISED did not consult on a spectrum utilization policy for these bands, deciding instead to continue monitoring the development of NGSO FSS systems as there was no commercial use at the time.
11. In June 2017, ISED published SMSE-015-17, Decisions on the Licensing Framework for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) Systems and Clarification of Application Procedures for All Satellite Licence Applications, updating the Canadian satellite regulatory framework to better support the licensing of NGSO systems in Canada. NGSO systems were still in the early phases of development at that time, with the United States (U.S.) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consulting on the issue of spectrum sharing between NGSO systems in cases of in-line interference and the issue of NGSO-NGSO coordination being studied at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Consequently, ISED decided to defer any decision on default measures to be applied in the event of a coordination dispute. ISED indicated that it would monitor developments at the ITU and continue to apply the ITU’s general coordination practices to domestic coordination.
6. New spectrum utilization policy for the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz
12. ISED sought comments on a number of proposals for the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz frequency bands aimed at finalizing the regulatory status, including specifying the relative status of GSO networks and NGSO systems operating in the bands; clarifying ISED’s approach to domestic coordination; and updating the status of the fixed service (FS) in these bands.
6.1 Status of GSO networks and NGSO systems in the FSS
13. In the Consultation, ISED proposed to grant co-primary status to Canadian GSO and NGSO FSS licensees in the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz, as co-primary status for both GSO networks and NGSO systems would establish a Canadian licensing model aligned with the current non-standard licences issued since 2010, thereby supporting business continuity and regulatory certainty for existing licensees. Co-primary operation would also provide an equal opportunity for both types of systems to make use of the spectrum in a coordinated fashion, increasing the potential for new and innovative services being delivered in rural and remote areas of Canada; and would harmonize the Canadian and international regulatory approaches on this item.
6.1.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
14. Responses to ISED’s proposal to grant co-primary status to GSO networks and NGSO FSS systems were mixed. Ciel and Affiliates, Hughes, Inmarsat, SpaceX, Viasat and Xplornet were supportive of the proposal, agreeing with ISED that granting co-primary status would harmonize with international rules and provide business continuity to both GSO networks and NGSO operators that have been authorized in the bands.
15. Inmarsat and Viasat added that the global nature and coverage of NGSO systems further supports alignment with international standards in this area.
16. Xplornet emphasized that GSO networks continue to play a critical role in connecting Canadians, especially in rural and remote areas, while NGSO technology will require further work before it can be deployed for consumers. Co-primary rather than secondary status for GSO networks would recognize the critical role that GSO networks play in connecting Canadians.
17. Hughes, Inmarsat, SpaceX and Viasat underscored that operators of GSO networks and NGSO systems already need to coordinate their use of the spectrum on a co-primary basis internationally and thus domestic coordination in Canada would be simplified by aligning with existing international requirements.
18. Ciel and Affiliates and Viasat noted that Canada’s geography facilitates coordination between GSO networks and NGSO systems further supporting a co-primary status. At higher latitudes, there are significant separation angles between GSO satellites whose gateway earth stations point at low elevation angles towards the equatorial plane and NGSO satellites serving Canada, whose gateways typically communicate with satellites at higher elevation angles. Ciel and Affiliates added that as the majority of NGSO constellations have polar or near-polar orbits, they are better able to serve higher latitudes while avoiding coordination issues with GSO satellites.
19. The RABC, OneWeb and Telesat disagreed with ISED’s proposal, preferring instead alignment with U.S. rules, which grant NGSO FSS systems primary status and GSO FSS networks secondary status. They argued that regional harmonization of allocations will facilitate the provision of new broadband services on a regional basis, including services in Canada, and that granting NGSO FSS systems primary status would eliminate the need for these systems to coordinate with hundreds of prior-filed GSO networks in the frequency bands.
20. Telesat further emphasized that “business certainty for authorized GSO networks should not trump the important role that a dedicated allocation of the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz bands would play in facilitating deployment of leading edge new NGSO services in Canada.”
21. Although OneWeb supported prioritizing NGSO systems over GSO networks, it also stated that it could support co-primary status for GSO networks and NGSO systems if ISED were to adopt certain technical safeguards such as: power flux density (PFD) limits for GSO FSS networks, maximum GSO earth station on- and off-axis transmit equivalent isotropically radiated power (e.i.r.p) limits to protect NGSO satellites, and equivalent power flux density (EPFD) limits that could be imposed on NGSO systems during coordination discussions. Such limits would, in OneWeb’s opinion, prevent previously authorized GSO FSS networks from blocking coordination efforts for NGSO FSS systems.
22. OneWeb further suggested that, should ISED decide to give access to GSO networks and NGSO systems on a co-primary basis, measures be put in place to ensure fairness for domestic coordination scenarios involving any operator with both a previously authorized GSO FSS network and a new NGSO FSS system.
23. OneWeb disputed Viasat’s claim that operators routinely coordinate operations in these bands pursuant to ITU Radio Regulations (RR) footnote No. 5.523A, noting that coordination can be difficult in practice as complex interference simulations must be undertaken, with no established precedent. OneWeb and Telesat added that NGSO systems should not be obligated to shoulder the burden of coordination with GSO networks as is the case in other bands, which is why a dedicated band for NGSO systems is preferable.
24. ISED does not share the view that a dedicated band for NGSO systems is required to facilitate the provision of services to Canadians. Currently, both GSO and NGSO FSS operators have been authorized to provide innovative broadband services in Canada, and making GSO FSS networks secondary would be disruptive to the delivery of such services. As well, given the important role that existing GSO networks play in connecting Canadians in rural and remote areas, ISED agrees with Xplornet’s view that downgrading their operating status could undermine efforts to bridge the digital divide in those areas. Co-primary status, conversely, recognizes the role and importance of both types of satellite implementations in delivering next-generation broadband service to Canadians.
25. ISED also agrees with Ciel and Affiliates and Viasat that Canada’s higher latitudes can facilitate and simplify domestic coordination between GSO networks and NGSO systems, reducing the impact of a co-primary designation on coordination between GSO and NGSO licensees.
26. While ISED appreciates the difficulties associated with coordinating NGSO systems with prior-filed GSO networks, it is unclear how regional alignment with the U.S., in giving primary status to NGSO systems, would facilitate coordination in these bands. As discussed in the Consultation, coordination based on the international framework (co-primary status) continues to apply between filings of different administrations regardless of Canadian allocations and licences. Canadian NGSO operators would still be required to coordinate their operations with prior-filed GSO networks per ITU RR footnote No. 5.523A on a co-primary basis and according to the ITU filing date of receipt.
27. Granting primary status to NGSO FSS systems in Canada would only affect operations within Canada and among Canadian-licensed networks. It would not impact coordination requirements between Canadian and foreign authorized operators. A relatively small number of Canadian authorized GSO satellites are providing services in the bands, including to remote and northern regions. A change in status within Canada would affect only a small subset of overall coordination requirements for NGSO systems while potentially disrupting the provision of important services to Canadians by GSO satellites.
28. ISED notes the position taken by OneWeb on supporting co-primary status for GSO networks and NGSO systems of the FSS if ISED were to adopt certain technical safeguards to prevent previously authorized GSO FSS networks from blocking coordination efforts for NGSO FSS systems. These measures will be discussed as they relate to domestic coordination in section 6.3.
29. In summary, ISED believes that the benefits of granting primary status to NGSO systems within the relatively limited domestic environment do not outweigh the important goals of providing business continuity and regulatory certainty for existing and future GSO and NGSO licensees, and facilitating the delivery of next generation communication services to Canadians.
ISED grants co-primary status to GSO networks and NGSO systems of the FSS operating in the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz.
Consequential amendments to the CTFA are shown in annex A.
Existing licences in those bands will be amended to reflect the new policy.
6.2 Domestic coordination
30. ISED sought comments on establishing the order of precedence for domestic coordination of existing licences in the frequency bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz based on the date of authorization, should the proposal to implement co-primary status between GSO networks and NGSO systems be adopted.
31. As well, ISED reaffirmed its approach of not adopting mandatory measures to address domestic coordination disputes. ISED’s assessment is that the existing domestic coordination approach, which is based on ITU coordination practices and is applied in cases of dispute, is sufficient. ISED sought comments on its assessment and committed to publishing additional information on its domestic coordination approach.
6.2.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
32. ISED notes that some of the comments provided by respondents went beyond ISED’s proposal, which only focussed on existing domestic licensees in the bands, to include coordination of all existing and future licensed systems and to address issues of international coordination (i.e. procedures for seeking landing rights in Canada). Many of these coordination items were previously addressed in SMSE-015-17, Decisions on the Licensing Framework for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) Systems and Clarification of Application Procedures for All Satellite Licence Applications.
33. All those who responded regarding the date for establishing the order of precedence for domestic coordination disagreed with ISED’s proposal, instead favouring the use of the ITU filing date, in order to harmonize with international coordination procedures.
34. SpaceX and Viasat supported using the ITU filing date, stating that the domestic authorization date unduly disadvantages non-Canadian systems in the Canadian coordination process, especially when non-Canadian systems have an earlier ITU filing date. Additionally, they reiterated their concerns in regards to ISED’s requirement that operators licensed by another administration complete coordination with Canadian operators prior to being authorized to provide service within Canada.
35. Ciel and Affiliates initially stated that use of the original date of authorization for domestic systems would be workable. Inmarsat acknowledged that as a foreign operator, they would not be impacted by the date chosen for domestic coordination. However, Hughes, Ciel and Affiliates and Inmarsat, in joint reply comments, aligned with Viasat and SpaceX on use of the ITU filing date.
36. Inmarsat also raised a question to clarify whether the date being used for establishing coordination requirements should be that of authorization or receipt of an application.
37. Telesat and the RABC also voiced their support for having the ITU filing date apply to domestic coordination, proposing that this date would only be relevant for NGSO systems on the assumption that they would have primary status with respect to the GSO network. Existing GSO networks would operate on a no interference, no protection basis in the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz.
38. On the question of whether the existing approach to addressing coordination disputes is sufficient, Ciel, Xplornet, the RABC and Telesat were in agreement; however, they reiterated their desire to have the ITU filing date implemented for coordination purposes and the importance of operators negotiating in good faith.
39. OneWeb agreed with ISED’s existing approach in principle, and was supportive of the decision to not implement mandatory spectrum sharing measures. However, the company raised concerns in regards to domestic coordination negotiations and urged ISED to consider ways to ensure fairness in such negotiations.
40. Viasat supported an approach consistent with ITU coordination but urged ISED to consider mandatory spectrum sharing for NGSO operators as it would incentivize NGSO operators to find solutions to in-line interference events. Viasat supported the U.S. approach to band splitting in cases of in-line interference.
Dates for domestic coordination
41. Domestic coordination practices, including what date is used to establish coordination requirements, affect only those satellite networks/systems that are licensed by ISED, and does not include foreign-licensed satellite networks/systems approved by ISED for the provision of services in Canada.
42. The ITU’s first-come, first-served approach to coordination of spectrum use in certain satellite bands has been agreed to by member states as a means of managing spectrum as an international resource. Under this approach, the only available method to establish precedence for coordination between systems authorized by different administrations is the date of submission of filings to the ITU. It should be noted, however, that the ITU process is based on an assumption that administrations have already authorized or approved the filings and associated systems submitted by their operators, under their own domestic frameworks.
43. In Canada, rights for the use of spectrum are granted through the issuance of domestic licences, or in the case of foreign-licensed systems, through the issuance of an approval by ISED. ISED grants licences on a first-come, first-served basis, where later licensees are required to coordinate domestically with earlier licensees in the band, similar to the international coordination procedures.
44. Using the ITU filing date as the coordination reference date between Canadian systems would be inappropriate, since no spectrum rights are granted until ISED’s licences are issued. Further, ISED’s licences are granted to a satellite network or system, which may be associated with multiple ITU filings, each with different dates of receipt, adding an unnecessary complexity to the domestic coordination process as different portions of the system could have different coordination precedence.
45. The gap between ITU filing date and authorization date exists based on flexibility that was requested by Canadian operators to submit an ITU filing in advance of receiving an authorization. This flexibility was implemented in 2014 when ISED stopped proactively filing for spectrum internationally, as part of changes to the satellite licensing framework. Filings may be submitted up to six months in advance of submitting a licensing application. However, such filings do not prejudice a licensing decision, and do not grant any rights in Canada to the associated spectrum.
46. Similarly, no spectrum rights are granted based on the submission of a licence application by an operator to ISED. The date of application submission only establishes the order in which applications are assessed.
47. Use of the authorization date ties the date used for domestic coordination to the date that spectrum rights are granted, which is consistent with the licensing and coordination procedures of other services within ISED’s spectrum management program and with international approaches.
48. Finally, ISED reviewed existing licences in this band to compare the order of precedence for coordination that would be established by both the ITU filing date and the domestic authorization date. The order of precedence would be substantially the same for those existing licences.
49. In discussing its approach to domestic coordination, ISED notes that Canadian licensees are required by conditions of licence to coordinate in good faith, accommodate to the extent possible later-authorized systems' access to spectrum, and comply with all measures imposed by ISED, including spectrum sharing and frequency segmentation. If the assistance of ISED is required to resolve a coordination impasse, ISED will make decisions based on multiple factors. Those factors include, but are not limited to, the stage of design and/or deployment of the systems in question and the corresponding ability to make changes to facilitate coexistence; whether the systems’ operations are in compliance with the licensed parameters; and whether the licensees are actively coordinating their systems internationally (e.g. International Frequency Information Circular (IFIC) review and comment, participation in coordination discussions, etc.).
50. An earlier domestic authorization date does not absolve Canadian operators of their requirement to coordinate with and accommodate later-authorized systems to facilitate coexistence.
51. In order to provide additional guidance to licensees regarding the application of ITU coordination practices in the context of domestic coordination, ISED has consolidated information on these practices into a spectrum advisory bulletin (SAB)—SAB-001-20, Domestic Coordination Procedures for Satellite Networks and Satellite Systems published in conjunction with this decision.
52. ISED acknowledges the comments raised by foreign operators regarding Canada’s requirement to have them coordinate their GSO networks or NGSO systems with Canadian licensees prior to ISED granting landing rights. This issue was also addressed in SMSE-015-17, Decisions on the Licensing Framework for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) Systems and Clarification of Application Procedures for All Satellite Licence Applications.
53. Coordination between Canadian-licensed and foreign-licensed operators is conducted under international coordination procedures, where precedence is established by the date of receipt of the ITU filing. Canadian operators are required, through conditions of licence, to coordinate with both foreign operators and other Canadian licensees. In the event of a coordination dispute or impasse, foreign-licensed operators can seek the assistance of their administrations and ISED would engage accordingly.
ISED will maintain existing domestic coordination procedures and base the order of precedence on the date of domestic authorization.
6.3 Technical measures to facilitate coordination
54. Given the complexity and lack of established practice in coordinating GSO networks and NGSO systems, the Consultation sought comments on technical measures such as off-axis e.i.r.p limits that GSO operators could implement to improve the sharing environment in the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz and reduce the coordination burden on NGSO systems. It also sought input on mitigation measures such as earth station site diversity and orbital avoidance angles that NGSO systems could adopt to improve sharing and facilitate coordination for such systems operating co-frequency.
6.3.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
55. Respondents agreed with ISED’s assessment that technical measures can be implemented by both GSO and NGSO operators to improve sharing.
56. For GSO-NGSO co-existence, the RABC, OneWeb and Viasat agreed that on- and off-axis e.i.r.p limits for GSO earth stations are required to mitigate interference to NGSO satellites but did not propose specific values. OneWeb stated that on- and off-axis e.i.r.p values would need to be studied and adopted but that these limits should not preclude the possibility for GSO and NGSO operators to negotiate different values. Telesat proposed uplink power control for GSO earth stations and underlined that specific values would require careful study.
57. Viasat emphasized that NGSO operators generally comply with ITU RR Article 22 EPFD limits to protect GSO satellites, including bands where EPFD limits do not apply; therefore, ITU coordination practices and coordination in good faith should be sufficient to ensure co-existence.
58. Ciel and Affiliates proposed measures such as time-based frequency avoidance, geographic separation of earth stations (to avoid in-line geometry), geographic separation of service areas and careful siting of gateway/feeder link earth stations to improve co-existence between GSO networks and NGSO systems.
59. In its reply comments, Telesat disputed the efficacy of the measures put forward by Ciel and Affiliates, stating that the use of geographic separation would, by definition, preclude ubiquitous deployment of user terminals in the bands, while time-based frequency avoidance would restrict access to the frequencies and limit the capacity of the satellite. Telesat also raised concerns about the EPFD limits that NGSO systems must comply with in adjacent bands, arguing that these limits directly impact an NGSO system’s capacity and thus impose the entire burden of coordination on these systems. Telesat argued that these reasons highlight the importance of dedicated spectrum for NGSOs. OneWeb also voiced its concern with EPFD limits, describing how some GSO operators insist on even more stringent EPFD limits being applied in the frequency bands 18.8-19.3 and 28.6-29.1 GHz before they will agree to coordination proposals from NGSO operators, thus making coordination onerous.
60. For NGSO-NGSO co-existence, Ciel and Affiliates noted that earth station site diversity and orbital avoidance angles improve sharing, while OneWeb urged ISED to take the lead to develop criteria and principles for NGSO-NGSO coordination that could be used worldwide and which would be based on Recommendation ITU-R S.1323.
61. ISED takes note of the agreement voiced by a number of respondents regarding the existence of, and potential for, implementation of technical measures to improve sharing and facilitate coordination between NGSO systems and between GSO networks and NGSO systems.
62. ISED shares the view voiced by the RABC and Telesat that specific limits would require careful study, and does not believe that it should adopt on- and off-axis e.i.r.p values for GSO earth stations in the 28.6-29.1 GHz band. Coordination involves negotiation between operators to accommodate later systems to the extent possible and is based on the principles of equitable access to and efficient use of spectrum. Setting specific limits up front, including EPFD limits, to address sharing in a band would remove the need for, and potential benefits of, coordination.
63. As well, mandating specific mitigation measures would reduce the flexibility of operators to negotiate sharing solutions based on the unique characteristics and operational requirements of their systems. Each sharing scenario between GSO and NGSO FSS operations is unique and different mitigation measures will work best in specific scenarios. As Ciel and Affiliates underscored, the complexity of coordination between GSO networks and NGSO systems will vary, depending on the type of NGSO implementation (i.e. equatorial or polar). For example, sharing between GSO networks and NGSO systems is likely to be facilitated by the angular separation between GSO earth stations pointed toward the Equator and NGSO earth stations pointed toward NGSO satellites at various elevation angles.
64. While ISED agrees with Telesat that sharing mechanisms such as geographic separation of earth stations and time-based frequency avoidance could preclude the ubiquitous deployment of user terminals and access to specific frequencies at certain times, there are other measures that could be deployed to conclude a coordination agreement, thereby ensuring access to the bands. As noted above, all Canadian authorized systems will be expected to accommodate later-authorized systems to the extent possible.
65. ISED recognizes that radio technologies are evolving at a rapid pace and may, as appropriate, develop technical rules in the future to facilitate the sharing of the bands by current and future authorized users. These rules would be developed in consultation with stakeholders and the RABC.
66. ISED will continue to work through the ITU to develop technical rules that enhance sharing and identify best practices for coordination between GSO networks and NGSO systems and between NGSO systems.
67. To maintain flexibility and take advantage of ongoing developments in sharing approaches and mechanisms, ISED will not develop specific limits for these measures at this time. Appropriate limits would vary depending on the makeup and sharing scenario between various FSS networks and systems. Imposition of pre-determined limits could impact the efficiencies that could be reached through coordination.
ISED will not impose specific technical measures for coordination of GSO networks and NGSO systems or among NGSO systems operating in the 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz frequency bands at this time.
6.4 Fixed Service status in the CTFA
68. In the Consultation, ISED proposed to update the status of the FS allocation in the CTFA from primary to secondary in the bands 18.8-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz, to reflect the existing policy SP 3-30 GHz, which specified that as of 2014, licensed FS systems operate in the 18.8-19.3 GHz band on a no-interference basis with respect to FSS systems.
6.4.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
69. The RABC, Xplornet , Ciel and Affiliates, Hughes, OneWeb, SpaceX, Telesat and Viasat voiced their support for updating the status of the FS from primary to secondary.
70. SpaceX stated that the current moratorium on new terrestrial fixed services in these bands, along with the granting of co-primary status to both GSO and NGSO FSS, “will allow multiple new technologies to flourish, and will ultimately lead to more broadband choices for Canadian consumers.” Telesat underscored that satellite systems must have access to dedicated spectrum for the ubiquitous deployment of “fixed and mobile end user earth stations.” As such, deployments cannot feasibly share spectrum with the FS. Viasat noted that the proposed changes to the CTFA will provide additional certainty to FSS operators in regard to existing and future deployments in the bands.
71. Bell indicated the proposed changes to the CTFA are reasonable, as licensed FS systems have been operating in the 18.8-19.3 GHz band on a no-interference basis with respect to the FSS since 2014.
72. As noted by a number of respondents, formalizing the secondary status of the FS in the 18.8-19.3 GHz band is consistent with previous policy decisions and will provide certainty to FSS operators planning to use the band more intensively.
73. In addition, to align with a similar policy decision previously made in SP 3-30 GHz, which stated that the operation of incumbent fixed service systems in the band 18.58-18.8 GHz will be on a no-interference basis with respect to the fixed-satellite services, the status of the FS in the 18.58-18.8 range will also be updated to secondary.
ISED will update the CTFA to reflect the secondary status of the FS in the bands 18.58-19.3 GHz and 28.6-29.1 GHz (see annex A).
6.5 Other consequential changes to the CTFA
74. In the Consultation, ISED proposed to modify footnotes C16E and C16F of the CTFA to reflect the proposal for co-primary status for GSO networks and NGSO systems in the FSS.
6.5.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
75. Xplornet, Ciel and Affiliates, Hughes, Inmarsat, SpaceX and Viasat voiced their support for the proposed consequential changes to CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F to grant co-primary status to GSO networks and NGSO systems in the FSS.
76. Given the RABC’s and Telesat’s preference for primary status for NGSO FSS and secondary status for GSO FSS, they proposed changes to CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F to reflect their position.
77. OneWeb stated that it could agree with ISED’s proposal if conditions were put in place to prevent GSO FSS networks from blocking later-filed NGSO FSS systems. Otherwise, it would support the wording proposed by the RABC and Telesat.
78. Those respondents who agreed with ISED’s proposal to grant co-primary status to GSO networks and NGSO systems in the FSS supported the proposed changes to CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F, while those who disagreed proposed changes to these footnotes consistent with their view to designate the bands for use by NGSO FSS systems on a primary basis and by GSO FSS networks on secondary basis.
79. As a result of ISED’s decision on co-primary status for GSO networks and NGSO systems and prior policy decisions, updates to CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F need to be adopted.
80. To simplify the footnotes, a new CTFA footnote C16K will be introduced to specifically address the co-primary status of GSO networks and NGSO systems in the FSS while the priority of the FSS regarding the FS will continue to be addressed by footnotes C16E and C16F.
81. CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F will be simplified to cover only updates related to the status between the FS and FSS.
ISED will update CTFA footnotes C16E and C16F to reflect updates related to the status between FS and FSS (see annex A).
ISED will adopt new footnote C16K in the CTFA to reflect the co-primary status of GSO networks and NGSO systems of the FSS, as per decision 6.1 in this document (see annex A).
7. Changes to the spectrum utilization policy for the bands 17.3-17.7 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz
82. The Consultation sought feedback on allowing usage by GSO FSS networks in the bands 17.3-17.7 GHz, 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.5 GHz to support better use of spectrum. Consequential amendments to the CTFA to allow such additional use were also provided for comment.
7.1 Frequency band 17.3-17.7 GHz
83. The band 17.3-17.7 GHz has a primary allocation to the broadcast satellite service (BSS) and to the FSS. There is currently limited BSS use in Canada in the band 17.3-17.7 GHz, as customers have been switching from traditional broadcasting to Internet-based video services. FSS use of the band in the Earth-to-space direction is currently limited by ITU RR footnote 5.516 and CTFA footnote C43 to feeder links for the BSS.
84. To allow for more efficient and flexible use of the 17.3-17.7 GHz band, the Consultation proposed a new footnote C43A to permit FSS use of the BSS allocation in the space-to-Earth direction.
7.1.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
85. Respondents were supportive of ISED’s proposals to update the spectrum utilization policies for the frequency band 17.3-17.7 GHz to provide additional flexibility to the FSS.
86. Bell indicated that it had no objections to allowing FSS (space-to-Earth) systems in the band 17.3-17.7 GHz, provided that the earth stations operated on a no harmful interference, no protection basis in relation to systems operating in accordance with the ITU Radio Regulations, such as its BSS uplink stations.
87. Ciel and Affiliates, Hughes, OneWeb, the RABC, SpaceX, Telesat, Viasat and Xplornet supported the changes proposed for the bands. Ciel and Affiliates and the RABC felt that the proposed text “low-density deployments of earth stations” for footnote C43A is not commonly used or well understood regulatory terminology and proposed to replace this text with “uses that would not unduly constrain feeder link use in the Earth-to-space direction, such as gateway applications in the fixed satellite service”. They argued that this text would align with wording more commonly used in the ITU Radio Regulations. OneWeb and Telesat supported these amendments.
88. In considering whether to provide additional flexibility to the FSS in the band 17.3-17.7 GHz, ISED determined that GSO FSS (space-to-Earth) operations would be feasible with sufficient orbital spacing and geographical separation between FSS receiving earth stations and transmitting BSS feeder link earth stations. In addition, to minimize impacts to the BSS, ISED proposed to limit FSS (space-to-Earth) operations to low-density deployments of earth stations communicating with GSO satellite networks.
89. Some responses stated that the term low-density was not typical regulatory language and proposed instead “uses that would not unduly constrain feeder link use in the Earth-to-space direction such as gateway applications in the fixed-satellite service.”
90. ISED agrees that the expression “uses that would not unduly constrain feeder links” provides further clarity to the concept of low-density deployments of earth stations, which was crafted so as to minimize impacts to the BSS and enable sharing of the bands between feeder links for BSS and GSO FSS earth stations. Similarly, the term gateway, which is well understood to mean earth stations with highly directive antennas, would further clarify which type of earth station could be deployed in order to limit impacts to the BSS.
91. Given that such use would be in derogation of the international table of frequency allocations, ISED has indicated that it would be subject to ITU Radio Regulations Provision No. 4.4 (i.e. operating on a no-harmful interference, no-protection basis).
92. ISED notes that the Agenda for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) includes agenda item 1.19, to study and consider a new allocation to the FSS in the space-to-Earth direction in the frequency band 17.3-17.7 GHz. ISED will review the results of this agenda item and determine whether any consequential action would be necessary for Canada at that time.
93. ISED will allow use of the 17.3-17.7 band to be used by GSO FSS networks for low-density uses such as gateways, without unduly constraining the incumbent BSS. ISED based this decision on the limited use of the band 17.3-17.7 GHz by the BSS; the positive response from all the satellite operators; and the fact that FSS GSO gateway sites can be carefully coordinated to ensure the protection of the BSS.
ISED will extend the use of the BSS allocation in the 17.3-17.7 GHz band to allow GSO FSS (space-to-Earth) use for low-density applications through the introduction of footnote C43A (see annex B).
7.2 Frequency bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz
94. Use of the FSS allocation in the frequency bands 19.3-19.7 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 29.1-29.25 GHz (Earth-to-space) is restricted to feeder links for the MSS in Canada, and there is currently very limited use. Only Inmarsat and Telesat currently operate earth stations in the bands subject to CTFA footnotes C46A and C48. As well, CTFA footnotes C16D and C16G give priority to the FS over the FSS, limiting the use by the FSS to applications that pose minimal constraints on the deployment of the FS.
95. Based on stakeholder requests, ISED proposed to modify CTFA footnotes C46A and C48 to allow additional use of the frequency bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz by GSO FSS networks. The proposed modifications would align with ITU RR footnotes 5.523D and 5.535A and would still limit GSO FSS use to low-density deployments of earth stations.
7.2.1 Summary of comments and reply comments
96. Respondents were supportive of ISED’s proposals to update the spectrum utilization policies for the frequency band 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz to provide additional flexibility to the FSS.
97. Ciel and Affiliates, Hughes, Inmarsat, Iridium, OneWeb, the RABC, SpaceX, Telesat, Viasat and Xplornet were supportive of ISED’s proposal to allow GSO FSS use of these two bands.
98. Iridium supported the proposal for the bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz, as well-established interference protection criteria exists for coordinating its operations with low-density deployments of earth stations communicating with GSO satellites.
99. While Ciel and the RABC supported the general intent of the proposal to modify footnotes C46A and C48, they felt that the term “low-density deployment of earth stations” is not a commonly used or well understood regulatory term. They instead proposed alternative wording that made use of terms such as feeder link and gateway, which they felt were more widely understood and used within the ITU Radio Regulations. OneWeb and Telesat supported this proposal.
100. Rogers strongly supported ISED’s recognition of priority designation for the FS and the goal of ensuring that there would be no constraints on other services in the bands given the importance of the band 19.3-19.7 GHz to terrestrial network operations.
7.2.2 Discussion: the bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz
101. In considering whether to provide additional flexibility to the FSS in the bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz, ISED noted the limited use by the MSS and indicated that these bands could be used by GSO FSS networks for low-density applications such as gateways and feeder links without constraining other services in the bands.
102. While Ciel and Affiliates and the RABC agreed with ISED’s proposals to provide more flexibility to the FSS, they made similar arguments in support of alternative wording to low-density deployment, proposing instead to use words such as feeder link and gateway.
103. ISED agrees that the use of the term gateway, which is well understood to mean earth stations with highly directive antennas, would further clarify which type of earth station could be deployed in order to limit impacts to incumbent services. As well, ISED is of the view that the expression “uses that would not unduly constrain feeder links” provides further clarity to the concept of low-density deployments of earth stations.
104. ISED will also make consequential amendments to RP-008 to specify use of these two bands by the FSS. As per RP-008, applications would be considered on a first-come, first-served basis and authorizations would be subject to obligations, such as satellite coordination with potentially affected Canadian networks prior to launch.
ISED will grant GSO FSS networks access to the 19.3-19.7 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 29.1-29.25 GHz (Earth-to-space) bands for low-density applications by modifying footnotes C46A and C48 (see annex B).
8. Comments on Earth Stations in Motion (ESIM)
105. Although ISED did not consider allowing ESIM to operate in the bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz, Inmarsat, Telesat and Viasat urged ISED to consider allowing ESIM operations with GSO FSS networks on the grounds that ESIM would only be receiving in the band 19.3-19.7 GHz and would not change the interference environment for other services. Similarly, in the band 29.1-29.25 GHz, they argued that studies within the ITU Radiocommunication sector (ITU-R) have shown that conditions can be placed on the operation of ESIM to protect terrestrial services and that ESIM operation can be coordinated with NGSO MSS feeder links.
106. In the reply comments, Iridium and Rogers expressed strong opposition to this proposal. Iridium underscored that ITU-R studies are not conclusive and have not yet been finalized. As well, limiting ESIM pointing errors may protect adjacent GSO FSS satellites but would not protect NGSO MSS feeder links, as suggested by Viasat. Rogers stated its concern about the impact of terrestrial ESIM to FS operations.
107. Currently, ISED allows ESIM to operate in certain bands on a case-by-case basis. With respect to the proposal to allow ESIM to operate in the bands 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz, ISED will continue to monitor developments at the ITU, including reviewing the technical and regulatory framework resulting from the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) agenda item 1.5 and studying WRC-23 agenda items on ESIMs. ISED may release a future consultation on a technical and licensing policy for ESIM. In the interim, ISED will continue to licence ESIM on a case-by-case basis. ISED notes that the FSS use in 19.3-19.7 GHz and 29.1-29.25 GHz is limited to low-density deployments, which precludes the use of ubiquitously deployed ESIM terminals.
9. Obtaining copies
108. All spectrum-related documents referred to in this paper are available on ISED’s Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website.