- 1. Intent
- 2. Legislative mandate
- 3. Policy objectives
- 4. Background
- 5. Development of the above 95 GHz ecosystem
- 6. Changes to the spectrum utilization for above 95 GHz bands
- 7. Introduction of licence-exempt operations in bands above 95 GHz
- 8. Licensed backhaul bands above 95 GHz
- 9. Next steps
- 10. Obtaining copies
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 Canada Gazette notice SMSE-005-22, Consultation on the Technical and Policy Framework for the Frequency Bands Above 95 GHz (the Consultation).
- Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
- Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
- European Space Agency (ESA) and European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
- First Mile Connectivity Consortium (FMCC)
- mmWave Coalition
- Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC)
- Robert Bosch GmbH
- Rogers Communications (Rogers)
3. This document (the Decision), sets out the technical and policy framework for licence-exempt use of frequency bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz (known as above 95 GHz) and, more specifically, the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands. In addition, this document summarizes stakeholders’ views on potential designation of portions of the W (92 GHz to 114.25 GHz) and D (130 GHz to 174.8 GHz) bands for licensed backhaul applications, including additional bands for future release, as well as a potential licensing mechanism approach for these backhaul applications above 95 GHz.
2. Legislative mandate
4. 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 national policies for spectrum utilization and ensuring effective management of the radio frequency spectrum resource.
3. Policy objectives
5. Wireless communications are an integral part of the Canadian economy. Not only are businesses, public institutions and consumers reliant on wireless services and technologies to enable day-to-day activities such as conducting business or connecting with family and friends, they are also increasingly used to enable innovative and emerging use cases. In this context, ISED is committed to the objective that Canadian consumers, businesses and public institutions have access to and continue to benefit from the latest wireless telecommunications services and technologies, in a competitive market. A robust wireless telecommunications industry not only drives the adoption and use of digital technologies, it also enhances the productivity of the Canadian economy and its international competitiveness.
6. Over the past few decades, the use of licence-exempt spectrum has seen a significant increase in use due to the low barriers to entry and the low cost of licence-exempt devices. Opening new frequency bands for licence-exempt use can facilitate the introduction of innovative products and applications by delivering increased capacity and speed for existing use cases, as well as new and emerging ones.
7. Licence-exempt spectrum is also expected to support the creation and expansion of new services and applications in vertical industries, such as precision agriculture, advanced manufacturing, transportation and healthcare. These vertical industries will have specialized use cases such as high-precision location sensing and sensory applications, asset tracking, non-invasive quality testing and medical imaging.
8. Spectrum above 95 GHz utilizes small wavelengths and can use large bandwidth blocks that support high-capacity data transfer, which makes it suitable for data-intensive, ultra-high bandwidth applications, high-definition video signals and other types of innovative applications. These attributes make this part of the spectrum particularly well suited for sensing applications, including health screening, non-invasive quality assurance in pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, high-resolution positioning, high-density applications and security systems.
9. The adoption of appropriate technical rules combined with the propagation characteristics of the spectrum above 95 GHz would permit licence-exempt devices to coexist, while limiting the potential of harmful interference to existing licensed services, i.e. earth exploration-satellite service, radio astronomy service, space research service, inter-satellite service and fixed and mobile services in these bands.
10. In developing this decision paper, ISED was guided 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. This objective and the enabling guidelines listed in the SPFC remain relevant for guiding ISED in delivering its spectrum management mandate.
11. In May 2019, the Government of Canada released Canada’s Digital Charter: Trust in a digital world (Digital Charter). The Digital Charter lists universal access as the first of 10 principles that will lay the foundation for a made-in-Canada digital approach, and guides policies and actions towards establishing an innovative, people-centred and inclusive digital and data economy built on trust. Universal access is the principle that all Canadians will have an equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and have the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.
12. 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. The ubiquity of digital technologies and services across sectors is a defining feature of the new digital economy, and enabling greater access to licence-exempt spectrum will allow all sectors to benefit.
13. Decisions made in this document support the objectives of the Telecommunications Act, the SPFC, the Digital Charter and Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan by positioning Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy. The release of licence-exempt spectrum in frequency bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz will facilitate the development of new technologies and services, and accelerate their deployment across the country, ensuring that Canadians are ready to embrace new applications and services as they emerge. Consequently, ISED’s policy objectives with respect to spectrum above 95 GHz are to:
- enhance innovation by enabling Canadian companies to develop new use cases that put Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy
- enable the evolution of high-quality services and next-generation technologies, including radar, manufacturing and sensing applications
- support competition in the provision of new technologies and applications so that people and businesses benefit from a wider range of services
- facilitate the deployment of applications and services across the country to promote connectivity
14. In SPB-005-22, Consultation on the Spectrum Outlook 2022 to 2026, ISED recognized that technology advancement alone cannot meet the increasing demand for licence-exempt applications and that frequency ranges above 95 GHz band are part of ISED’s overall plan to make additional spectrum available to allow Canadians to take full advantage of these applications. Internationally, it is recognized that access to additional licence-exempt spectrum is needed in order to meet the exponentially increasing demand for innovative wireless services making use of it.
15. Advancements in research and technology development have allowed for the inception of new products and applications using spectrum in higher frequency bands. In recent years, innovators have been developing products and applications in the frequency bands above 95 GHz. Spectrum regulators in many regions of the world have started to make spectrum available in bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz to encourage the development of these new communication technologies.
16. In the United States (US), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published rules on new communications technologies and services in the bands above 95 GHz. Through the adoption of the First Report and Order (FCC 19-19) [PDF: 277 KB], the Commission designated 21.2 GHz of spectrum available for licence-exempt use above 95 GHz and created a new class of experimental licences, called the Spectrum Horizons License, for uses of frequencies between 95 GHz and 3 THz.
17. Four bands (i.e. the 116-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands) were made available by the FCC for licence-exempt operations on a no-protection, no-interference basis. The FCC permitted low-power licence-exempt devices to transmit at a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (e.i.r.p.) of 40 dBm (average) and 43 dBm (peak). A higher maximum e.i.r.p. was allowed for outdoor operations of fixed point-to-point (PTP) devices in these bands, i.e. a maximum e.i.r.p. of 82 dBm (average) and 85 dBm (peak). To minimize the likelihood of harmful interference to licensed services, the FCC requires these licence-exempt devices to use highly directional antennas with narrow beamwidths, and their operation is not allowed onboard aircraft and satellites.
18. In the United Kingdom, Ofcom released the 116-122 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz and 185-190 GHz bands on a light licensing regime. Devices are permitted to operate in these bands at a maximum e.i.r.p. of 55 dBm for both indoor and outdoor use. For outdoor use, vertical elevation masks were imposed to protect earth exploration-satellite services from harmful interference.
19. The European Union (EU) has adopted harmonized standards (ETSI EN 305 550-1 [PDF: 688 KB] and ETSI EN 305 550-2 [PDF: 73.1 KB]) allowing short range devices (SRDs) to operate in selected bands between 40 GHz and 246 GHz. A maximum e.i.r.p. of 10 dBm has been set for operating in the 122-122.25 GHz band while a maximum e.i.r.p. of 20 dBm has been selected for both the 122.25-123 GHz and the 244-246 GHz bands. Additionally, the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) released a report in September 2018 on PTP links in the frequency ranges 92-114.25 GHz and 130-174.8 GHz, referred to as the W band and D band, respectively. The report provides information, considerations and application use cases in the W and D bands and discusses the flexible and efficient use of these bands.
20. In Japan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications made 18 GHz of spectrum available at 116-134 GHz for terrestrial use by broadcast auxiliary services provided that “all practicable steps shall be taken to protect the radio astronomy service from harmful interference” in parts of the band, as specified in footnote J36, Footnotes to National Frequency Allocation of Japan [PDF: 687 KB]. Moreover, as indicated in ECC (Electronic Communications Committee) Report 282, Point-to-Point Radio Links in the Frequency Ranges 92-114.25 GHz and 130-174.8 GHz [PDF: 2.6 MB], in Japan, authorities are currently studying future regulation for the 110-174.8 GHz band (which includes part of both D and W bands) for fixed service.
21. ISED also anticipates a growing demand for high-capacity, high-speed backhaul to support evolving network requirements and growing traffic. As deployment of 5G increases and radio access technologies continue to utilize higher frequencies such as the millimetre wave spectrum, there is a need to also look for higher frequencies with wider bandwidth channels for wireless backhaul, as this would enable greater backhaul capacities due to the growing data demand for wireless networks.
22. In February 2022, ISED published the Consultation to seek comments on licence-exempt use in selected bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz. In order to leverage the emerging US equipment ecosystem, the Consultation proposed to closely align with the United States and proposed to model the technical rules for licence-exempt operations to those of the use of the 57-71 GHz band (as set forth in Radio Standards Specification RSS-210, Licence-Exempt Radio Apparatus: Category I Equipment). Through the Consultation, ISED also sought comments on the W and D bands, including other potential spectrum bands, for licensed backhaul applications above 95 GHz.
5. Development of the above 95 GHz ecosystem
23. In the Consultation, ISED sought comments on the timelines for the development of low-power and backhaul equipment ecosystems. ISED also sought views on new potential use cases in spectrum above 95 GHz.
Summary of comments on timelines for low-power licence-exempt equipment ecosystem
24. Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA stated that low-power equipment ecosystems are available whereas the spectrum is not. VEGA agreed with ISED that the time is right to open up spectrum above 95 GHz for the low-power sensing equipment ecosystem. Qualcomm was of the view that the equipment ecosystems for spectrum above 95 GHz may be commercially available months after ISED develops the framework for licence-exempt operations in spectrum above 95 GHz.
25. On the other hand, TELUS indicated not being aware of any meaningful evolution that would suggest near-term timelines for the development of a low-power equipment ecosystem.
Summary of comments on timelines for backhaul equipment ecosystem
26. Nokia, Rogers and TELUS indicated that the backhaul equipment ecosystem would be developed ahead of the low-power equipment ecosystem. Nokia estimated the first commercial prototypes in the D band to be ready in about three years, whereas longer times are expected for delivery of technology solutions in the W band. Similar timelines were noted by TELUS, who pointed out that many of its network equipment vendors envisage the introduction of backhaul equipment for commercial use within the next few years, maturing in the second half of this decade. In its reply comments, Rogers recommended that ISED continue working on enabling the regulatory framework for both low-power and backhaul equipment ecosystems, but that priority should be given to fixed service backhaul bands and applications.
Summary of comments on use cases for low-power licence-exempt equipment
27. Views on potential new use cases in spectrum above 95 GHz were provided by CSA, FMCC, mmWave Coalition, Nokia, Qualcomm, RABC, Robert Bosch GmbH, Rogers, TELUS and VEGA.
28. In their comments, Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA indicated that licence-exempt radiodetermination applications are particularly well suited for spectrum above 95 GHz as, in many cases, they have increased requirements in terms of contiguous bandwidth. Both equipment manufacturers further noted several new radiodetermination applications operating in the frequency range 116-260 GHz. These new ultra-wide band (UWB) radiodetermination applications include systems for industry automation, including systems operating in shielded environments as well as various types of radar sensors such as for generic indoor surveillance, level probing and contour determination and automation. FMCC, in its comments, noted several important applications for Indigenous communities such as health screening, high-resolution positioning, high-density applications (i.e. closely spaced devices operating in a confined area such as in factories and offices) and security systems.
29. Other use cases were identified by Nokia and Qualcomm. Nokia indicated spectrum above 95 GHz would be well suited for novel use cases such as immersive experience with holography beyond conventional extended reality; multi-sensory communications with telepresence; high-resolution mapping and digital twinning; positioning and sensing for robots and cobots (i.e. a collaborative robot, intended for direct human/robot interaction within a shared space); high-speed communication links; and highly secure communications. Qualcomm, in its comments, expressed that these bands would be able to support ultra-high throughput, low latency mobile and fixed communications applications, including device-to-device connections and mobile hotspots. In addition, Qualcomm highlighted that these bands could also be used for fully immersive augmented reality applications supporting education, remote work, worker training, gaming, remote presence, and video conferencing.
30. TELUS, in its comments, highlighted the fact that bands above 95 GHz can provide large bandwidths of spectrum that would enable the ability to drive productivity across multiple industry verticals. Rogers shared TELUS’s views that bands above 95 GHz could support sensing, positioning, mapping, and imaging applications across an array of sectors including education, enterprise, healthcare and manufacturing, among others.
Summary of comments on potential use cases for backhaul applications
31. RABC indicated that spectrum above 95 GHz could significantly enhance backhaul capacity including to help transport high volumes of traffic between base stations and higher-level network elements (backhaul). This spectrum could also improve capacity and performance requirements at the midhaul stage on the links between different kinds of base stations (e.g. macro and small base stations) and at the fronthaul such as on the links between a base station baseband unit and remote radio head, where these are not co-located.
32. FMCC, mmWave Coalition and Nokia were of the view that spectrum above 95 GHz could be used for wireless backhaul where optical fibre backhaul is not feasible, not available or not appropriate to deploy in terms of cost, logistics and access.
33. Rogers concurred with terrestrial stakeholders that spectrum above 95 GHz is promising for ultra-high-speed, short distance PTP services including backhaul applications.
34. Based on comments received, ISED is of the view that there is a growing demand for the use cases in frequency bands above 95 GHz, which will drive the speed of development of the equipment ecosystem for the bands above 95 GHz. ISED believes that Canada could benefit from a global marketplace and economies of scale to drive this licence-exempt ecosystem availability in Canada as soon as late 2023 (for low-power licence-exempt devices). Additionally, ISED notes the strong interest and need for additional backhaul spectrum. ISED continues to believe that Canadians will benefit from being at the forefront of having access to backhaul equipment when it comes to the market in the coming years.
6. Changes to the spectrum utilization for above 95 GHz bands
35. In the Canadian Table of Frequency Allocations (CTFA) as shown in table 1 below, the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 241-248 GHz bands are allocated for various services: earth exploration-satellite service (EESS), inter-satellite service (ISS), space research service (SRS), radio astronomy service (RAS), radiolocation service, fixed service, and mobile service on a primary basis. On a secondary basis, the 122.25-123 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands are allocated for amateur service, and the 244-246 GHz band for amateur-satellite service.
36. In the Consultation, ISED sought comments on its proposal to allow the use of licence-exempt devices in the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands on a no-protection, no-interference basis. Moreover, ISED sought comments on its proposal to modify the CTFA to include the following footnote:
37. The corresponding changes to the CTFA were proposed as follows:
|Frequency band (GHz)||Frequency allocations|
|116-122.25||EARTH EXPLORATION-SATELLITE (passive)
SPACE RESEARCH (passive)
5.138 5.341 ADD Cxx
5.138 ADD Cxx
|174.8-182||EARTH EXPLORATION-SATELLITE (passive)
SPACE RESEARCH (passive)
|185-190||EARTH EXPLORATION-SATELLITE (passive)
SPACE RESEARCH (passive)
5.138 5.149 ADD Cxx
Summary of comments
38. CSA, ECCC, FMCC, mmWave Coalition, Qualcomm, Robert Bosch GmbH, Rogers, TELUS and VEGA supported ISED’s proposal to allow the use of licence-exempt devices in the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands on a no-protection, no-interference basis. The vast majority of the respondents also supported the introduction of footnote Cxx in the CTFA.
39. TELUS noted that the usage of incumbent allocations for these bands in Canada are few and far apart and combined with the high atmospheric and path loss in these bands support widespread operations of licence-exempt devices with the adoption of appropriate technical measures. TELUS was of the view that allowing licence-exempt operations would not cause any additional risk and would incentivize the development of this spectrum ecosystem by lowering the barrier to entry. In its reply comments, CSA disagreed with TELUS on the usage of incumbent allocations and stressed the importance of EESS, citing earth observations missions as being a critical service that Canadians rely on to have advanced weather forecasting data.
40. While supportive of introducing licence-exempt devices on a no-protection, no-interference basis, Rogers and TELUS were of the view that allowing licence-exempt operations should not preclude the future consideration of a licensed regime for these bands as appropriate. They argued that a licensed regime that would allow equipment to operate at a higher power could coexist with a licence-exempt regime, particularly if a licence-exempt ecosystem does not develop prior to ISED re-evaluating licensing options.
41. CSA, ECCC, ESA/EUMETSAT and RABC expressed overall concerns with potential harmful interference to EESS from licence-exempt devices, emphasizing the need to develop technical rules for licence-exempt devices that would ensure the protection of satellite services in these bands. Specifically, ESA/EUMETSAT noted that the Consultation considered critical frequency bands allocated in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations to the earth exploration-satellite (passive) service on a primary basis and used, or to be used soon, by ESA/EUMETSAT Earth Observation missions. ECCC suggested to delay any decision related to the 244-246 GHz frequency band until after World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23) in order to take into account the outcomes of agenda item 1.14, which has the objective to consider new primary allocations for EESS in the frequency range 231.5-252 GHz.
42. CSA and ESA/EUMETSAT suggested leveraging other frequency bands in the spectrum above 95 GHz that are already allocated to the fixed, mobile and radiolocation services, such as those under WRC-19 agenda item 1.15. This agenda item identified frequency bands 275-296 GHz, 306-313 GHz, 318-333 GHz and 356-450 GHz for land mobile and fixed service applications where no specific conditions are necessary to protect earth exploration-satellite (passive) service applications. CSA further suggested that, if licence-exempt devices are allowed in the contemplated bands, they are limited to indoor use only and recommended amending the proposed footnote’s wording accordingly. In its reply comments, Rogers disagreed with the recommendation made by the satellite proponents to prioritize enabling bands above 275 GHz, arguing that at this time, it will take substantially longer to develop technology for use above 275 GHz compared to bands within 116 GHz and 246 GHz. Rogers also disagreed with CSA’s proposal to modify the footnote to limit licence-exempt operations to indoor only.
43. Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA recommended that ISED consider the result of ECC Report 334 and widen the proposed bands for greater alignment with the EU. Robert Bosch GmbH also suggested that ISED take into account ITU Resolution 663 (WRC-19) when developing a framework for licence-exempt use in these frequency bands.
44. Qualcomm, supported by Rogers in its reply comments, suggested to open 95-100 GHz, 102-109.5 GHz, 111.8-114.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 130-134 GHz, 141-148.5 GHz and 151.5-158.5 GHz frequency bands for fixed and mobile operations in addition to the ones proposed in the Consultation.
45. Nokia opposed the introduction of licence-exempt operations in specified bands above 95 GHz and consequently disagreed with the proposed footnote. Nokia specifically commented that it was premature to designate the contemplated bands for licence-exempt operations. It was of the view that these bands should be allowed solely for technology tests, trial and development in order not to hinder the ability of Canadian mobile operators to deliver on the promises of future 6G services.
46. With the majority of respondents supporting the introduction of licence-exempt use in the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz band and 244-246 GHz bands on a no-protection, no-interference basis, ISED continues to be of the view that releasing these bands would support a variety of innovative use cases that will significantly enhance operations and growth in vertical industries. Additionally, opening up spectrum for licence-exempt use will support the introduction of next-generation licence-exempt wireless technologies that could be deployed both indoor and outdoor, operating over distances ranging from less than a metre to several hundred metres, and deliver increased capacity and reliability for existing use cases as well as new and emerging use cases.
47. ISED notes that to date, there are no primary and secondary services licensed in these bands in Canada. ISED also notes that it will ensure that appropriate technical rules will be developed so that the introduction of licence-exempt operations will not preclude future deployments of allocated services.
48. ISED notes the comment from Rogers and TELUS to consider a licensed regime, in addition to licence-exempt use for these bands, as appropriate. ISED will monitor the uptake of licence-exempt devices and could consider making changes, if needed, in the future.
49. ISED notes the comments by CSA, ECCC, ESA/EUMETSAT and RABC regarding their concerns about the aggregate interference of licence-exempt devices to EESS. As noted in the Consultation, the proposed bands exhibit high atmospheric losses so that the use of highly directional antennas would be required, reducing the likelihood of interference to allocated services. Moreover, for outdoor operations, terrain and clutter would also contribute to the propagation loss, also reducing the potential of interference to passive satellite services. Therefore, ISED continues to be of the view that the no-protection, no-interference basis of licence-exempt devices, the propagation characteristics of the spectrum above 95 GHz and the applicable technical rules that will be developed would sufficiently protect all services allocated in these bands.
50. With regards to the recommendation made by the satellite proponents to prioritize bands above 275 GHz, ISED is of the view that at this time, it will take substantially longer to develop technology for use above 275 GHz compared to bands within 116 GHz and 246 GHz. Considering the potential availability of a global equipment ecosystem of licence-exempt devices in the frequency range 95 GHz to 275 GHz, ISED is of the view that making 21.2 GHz of spectrum available for licence-exempt use as soon as possible would spur development and marketing of innovative applications and products. Delaying the release of this spectrum would not meet the policy objectives outlined in section 3, as it would hinder access to new technology and would negatively impact the opportunities for innovation.
51. On Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA’s recommendation to consider widening of the proposed bands to better harmonize with the EU, ISED notes that two of the proposed bands in the Consultation (i.e. 122-123 GHz and 244-246 GHz) are fully harmonized with ECC Report 334 recommendations whereas the other proposed bands are partially harmonized. To leverage a North American equipment ecosystem, ISED intends to harmonize its spectrum allocations with the US. ISED will continue to monitor EU and other international developments in these bands and could consider making updates to its spectrum allocations as appropriate.
52. Both Qualcomm and Rogers requested that ISED consider opening more frequency bands above 95 GHz. ISED is of the view that the frequency bands considered in the Consultation will be sufficient to foster innovation and allow access to spectrum to support various application use cases in different vertical markets. ISED will continue to monitor the demand and initiate further consultations if needed.
53. In response to Nokia’s comment suggesting that it is premature to designate these bands for licence-exempt equipment operations, ISED notes that, despite the nascent state of the development of use cases in spectrum above 95 GHz, other administrations have made spectrum available for the development of new communication technologies in bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz. Moreover, innovators have expressed interest in having equipment operating in these bands in Canada.
ISED will allow licence-exempt use in the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz band and 244-246 GHz bands on a no-protection, no-interference basis.
ISED will update the CTFA as shown in table 1 by adding footnote Cxx.
7. Introduction of licence-exempt operations in bands above 95 GHz
54. In the Consultation, ISED proposed to align its technical rules for bands above 95 GHz with those of the 57-71 GHz band and to allow both indoor and outdoor licence-exempt operations. ISED also sought comments on the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limits of 82 dBm (average) and 85 dBm (peak) for outdoor fixed PTP systems, and the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limits of 40 dBm (average) and 43 dBm (peak) for low-power licence-exempt devices.
Summary of comments on aligning technical rules
55. ISED’s proposal to align the technical rules for the bands above 95 GHz with those of the 57-71 GHz (as set forth in annex J of RSS-210) garnered mixed responses from stakeholders.
56. ECCC supported aligning the technical rules with those contained in annex J of RSS-210. It also requested that, should licence-exempt devices be permitted in these frequency bands, these licence-exempt devices should be prohibited from use on aircraft and satellites in order to protect EESS. Such restrictions would increase alignment with the rules imposed by the US FCC.
57. RABC stated that different technical rules may be warranted for these bands, but highlighted the need to align, where possible, with either the US or the EU regulations to allow for a common equipment ecosystem. Rogers agreed with RABC’s view that the technical rules for these bands should be broadly harmonized with either US or EU regulations and the associated equipment ecosystems, while further noting that the frequencies above 95 GHz are much higher than 57-71 GHz, therefore having different propagation characteristics and deployment density. Although specific values may differ from RSS-210, Rogers was of the view that it would serve as a good starting point to develop technical rules for the bands contemplated in the Consultation.
58. Qualcomm also supported aligning the technical rules with those contained in RSS-210 for the 57-71 GHz band and allowing licence-exempt operations at a power level that is in line with the FCC rules. Qualcomm also suggested allowing point-to-multipoint operations at the same levels as those proposed for PTP operations.
59. TELUS also supported aligning the rules to those of the 57-71 GHz band with modest modifications to the spurious emissions and PTP system requirement in RSS-210 to align with the FCC rules for the above 95 GHz. It noted that the existing e.i.r.p. reduction requirement for PTP systems set forth in RSS-210 is aligned with the FCC rules and could be applied to the proposed frequency bands.
60. VEGA was generally supportive of the technical requirements in the RSS-210, but expressed concerns that the e.i.r.p. levels may not be sufficient for certain devices such as fixed field disturbance sensors. Robert Bosch GmbH raised similar concerns with regards to these types of devices.
61. CSA suggested that further coexistence studies be undertaken to take into consideration the differences in atmospheric and free space attenuation between 57-71 GHz and the suggested bands. In its reply comments, CSA raised concerns with the fact that TELUS and Qualcomm did not consider the significant difference between propagation effects in frequency bands above 95 GHz and in frequency bands 57-71 GHz. CSA reiterated its view that different technical requirements are needed for bands above 95 GHz.
62. ESA/EUMETSAT stressed the importance of taking the climate and compatibility conditions of the spectrum into account and that a common set of conditions would not be equally applicable. It noted that it would be difficult to gauge the impact to EESS without results from further studies being shared. Moreover, ECCC noted that the FCC performed its studies using the US Standard Atmosphere model. Studies based on a Canadian atmospheric model would generate reduced attenuation due to the colder and drier climate in Canada.
63. As noted in the Consultation, considering that the propagation characteristics and allocated services of spectrum above 95 GHz are similar to those of the 57-71 GHz and in order to leverage a North American equipment ecosystem, ISED believes that it is appropriate to model the technical rules for licence-exempt operations in bands above 95 GHz after those of the 57-71 GHz band as outlined in annex J of RSS-210, which are currently harmonized with the US rules for the 57-71 GHz frequency range, including the above 95 GHz bands.
64. ISED notes the comments from RABC, Rogers and TELUS highlighting the importance of aligning the technical rules with other jurisdictions for a greater choice of equipment ecosystem. ISED is of the view that harmonizing Canadian rules to the maximum extent possible with those being implemented in the US and other international markets will bring economies of scale and support faster introduction of new products and services in Canada.
65. In response to TELUS’s comment suggesting modest modifications to the spurious emissions and PTP system requirement in RSS-210 to align with the FCC, ISED would like to reiterate that the technical rules for the 57-71 GHz are fully harmonized between ISED and the FCC.
66. In response to the comments from CSA, ECCC, ESA/EUMETSAT and RABC suggesting that bands above 95 GHz may warrant different technical requirements and further studies to ensure protection of allocated services such as EESS, ISED continues to be of the view that the similarities of the propagation characteristics of the spectrum above 95 GHz to those of the 57-71 GHz bands are such that the technical rules for the 57-71 GHz band can serve as a baseline for the development of those for the bands outlined in the Consultation. However, ISED will take into account the comments when developing the proposed applicable technical rules. These proposed rules will be publicly consulted on at a future date.
Summary of comments on indoor and outdoor licence-exempt use
67. The responses from the stakeholders on allowing both indoor and outdoor licence-exempt use were mixed.
68. Robert Bosch GmbH, TELUS and VEGA welcomed the proposal to allow indoor and outdoor licence-exempt operations. ECCC did not raise specific concerns for allowing both indoor and outdoor operation of licence-exempt devices, and urged to harmonize the technical rules with the US.
69. The FMCC supported indoor licence-exempt use, but had reservations on outdoor licence-exempt use. It sought demonstration on the feasibility of outdoor licence-exempt use.
70. CSA highly recommended no outdoor use licence-exempt policy. It stated that, in case harmful interference does occur, rolling back the deployment of outdoor licence-exempt use may be very difficult. ESA/EUMETSAT were also concerned about the aggregate effect of outdoor licence-exempt use into EESS.
71. In the Consultation, ISED proposed to allow both indoor and outdoor licence-exempt equipment for the bands above 95 GHz. Although there were differing opinions regarding outdoor licence-exempt use, ISED is of the view that the propagation characteristics in the proposed frequency bands and additional losses such as clutter and terrain, together with the appropriate technical rules and the use of highly directional antennas, would significantly reduce the likelihood of harmful interference to other radio services operating in the band. In addition, ISED’s regional offices are appropriately resourced to quickly assist operators with any investigations into interference to licensed services. With these measures in place, ISED believes that coexistence is feasible between outdoor licence-exempt devices and other incumbent systems operating in the same frequency bands.
ISED will allow both indoor and outdoor licence-exempt use in the 116-122.25 GHz, 122.25-123 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz, 185-190 GHz and 244-246 GHz bands, on a no-protection, no-interference basis.
Summary of comments on the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limit
72. With respect to comments on the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limits, TELUS and Qualcomm supported the proposed maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limits of 82 dBm (average) and 85 dBm (peak) for outdoor fixed PTP systems, and the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. limits of 40 dBm (average) and 43 dBm (peak) for all other applications.
73. Nokia recommended considering the rules of other jurisdictions. Nokia also suggested that the e.i.r.p. values should be evaluated considering existing and future technology developments in these frequency bands.
74. Qualcomm also proposed, concurred by Rogers in its reply comments, to allow the same e.i.r.p. limit for point-to-multipoint operations as proposed for point-to-point operations. Further, Qualcomm proposed to permit mobile operations at an e.i.r.p. level of at least 55 dBm and up to 75 dBm e.i.r.p. CSA, in its reply comments, disagreed with the proposal made by Qualcomm to allow higher power operation for licence-exempt devices, highlighting that this would not be in line with ISED’s interest in protecting EESS.
75. Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA were of the view that the power levels proposed are sufficient to cover the outdoor use cases. VEGA was also of the opinion that the maximum average e.i.r.p. of 82 dBm and the maximum peak e.i.r.p. of 85 dBm are sufficient to cover most PTP use cases for backhaul purposes. Robert Bosch GmbH and VEGA stated that the power level set in RSS-210 for fixed field disturbance sensors occupying more than 500 MHz bandwidth and interactive motion sensors may not be sufficient to support all of the possible new use cases previously identified and which include new UWB radiodetermination applications.
76. ESA/EUMETSAT raised concerns that the interference criteria to protect EESS would be exceeded with the proposed outdoor e.i.r.p. limits and regulatory conditions from anticipated high-density deployments of low-power outdoor licence-exempt devices.
77. ISED sought comments on low-power licence-exempt devices to operate at an average and peak e.i.r.p. of no more than 40 dBm and 43 dBm, respectively, within their channel bandwidth. A higher maximum e.i.r.p. of 82 dBm (average) and 85 dBm (peak) was proposed for outdoor operations of fixed PTP devices. Since the proposed bands are characterized by high atmospheric losses, the antenna systems of such devices are expected to use highly directional antennas with narrow beamwidths. ISED is of the view that with the no-protection, no-interference policy and the propagation characteristics, the above proposed e.i.r.p. levels would be sufficient to protect all allocated services in the proposed frequency bands. ISED considered the comments for higher power; however, it is of the view that the proposed e.i.r.p. values are appropriate and higher values may increase the likelihood of causing harmful interference to primary and secondary services.
78. Regarding the comments from Nokia on greater harmonization with other jurisdictions, ISED’s policy is to harmonize with other jurisdictions to the greatest extent possible in order to benefit from a greater equipment ecosystem and economies of scale. The proposals in the Consultation were closely aligned with the US in order to take advantage of a North American ecosystem. On Nokia’s comment on the proposed e.i.r.p. limits, ISED is of the view that the proposed e.i.r.p. values are sufficient to allow most technologies to be implemented and deployed. It should be noted that the e.i.r.p. values proposed are to protect the operation of primary and secondary services in these bands.
79. In response to the concerns raised by ESA/EUMETSAT on the outdoor e.i.r.p. levels, ISED is of the view that the proposed e.i.r.p. levels for licence-exempt outdoor operations will be sufficient to protect EESS systems operating in the proposed frequency bands. It should also be noted that the proposed licence-exempt operation in these frequency bands is on a no-protection, no-interference basis. Obligations to take corrective measures such as reducing power or ceasing operation may be required if harmful interference to the systems operating in the primarily allocated services occurs.
8. Licensed backhaul bands above 95 GHz
80. In the Consultation, ISED sought comments on potential designation of portions of the W (92-114.25 GHz) and D (130-174.8 GHz) bands for licensed backhaul applications, including additional bands for future release, and under what timelines. ISED also sought comments on the potential licensing mechanism approach for these backhaul applications above 95 GHz.
Summary of comments on W and D bands
81. With regard to the comments on whether the W and D bands should be identified for licensed backhaul applications, ESA/EUMETSAT, Nokia, Qualcomm, RABC, Rogers and TELUS supported the use of these bands to meet the growing demand for high-capacity traffic required for various use cases.
82. Nokia and RABC recommended that the D band be considered first for licensed backhaul operations. RABC further asked ISED to consider the W band for 6G access and suggested it consider the D band for backhaul and other applications pending coexistence studies and analysis. Nokia also highlighted the use of spectrum in 100-300 GHz for 6G mobile networks as a topic of interest, indicating that initial developments will take place in the lower part of this range.
83. Qualcomm noted that the W and D bands could be suitable not only for fixed backhaul and fronthaul operations, but also for mobile operations. Qualcomm recommended to open the 95-100 GHz, 102-109.5 GHz and 111.8-114.25 GHz as portions of the W band and the 130-134 GHz, 141-148.5 GHz and 151.5-158.5 GHz of the D band for both fixed and mobile applications use.
84. TELUS highlighted the similarity in propagation characteristics between the E (71-86 GHz) and W bands, which would enable equipment designed for the E band to be modified for use in the W band. With regard to timelines, TELUS indicated expecting commercial availability of backhaul equipment in the D band by 2025. TELUS further suggested that ISED consider the European proposal plan for opening up spectrum in the W and D bands in the absence of a US FCC band plan. In addition, it suggested that ISED include the frequency range 92.25-95 GHz when developing a standard for the W and D bands.
85. In its comments, the mmWave Coalition stated that while most backhaul is provided by optical fiber without using radio spectrum, fixed service backhaul is needed where fiber installation is too expensive or too slow to deploy. It stressed the importance of large contiguous bandwidths of spectrum for fixed and mobile services above 95 GHz. It urged ISED to keep the fixed and mobile co-primary allocations in 151.5 GHz to 164.0 GHz for backhaul since it provides the largest contiguous block below 200 GHz. It also suggested to explore with industry the need for possible larger bandwidths, including to study the feasibility of fixed services sharing other frequency bands between 71 GHz and 275 GHz that are allocated to passive services.
86. Both CSA and ECCC questioned the necessity of identifying additional spectrum for backhaul applications in the W and D bands (or other frequency bands between 95 GHz and 275 GHz) and asked that more analysis be done before reaching any decision on making additional spectrum available for licenced backhaul operations. ECCC highlighted that any frequency bands for licensed backhaul applications should be identified within existing allocations for fixed services and provide large guard bands to ensure protection of existing EESS (passive) allocations in adjacent spectrum. CSA also emphasized the need to ensure protection of EESS through judicious portioning of the bands between licence-exempt use and licenced backhaul applications and through application of regulatory conditions that act to prevent emissions in bands allocated on a primary basis to passive services.
87. Rogers disagreed with the comments made by satellite proponents that questioned the need for additional backhaul spectrum. Rogers agreed on the need for coexistence and reasonable protection of passive services. However, Rogers was of the opinion that it is too early to prejudge any required coexistence rules such as large guard bands, which are only one alternative among others, such as limits on radiated power and antenna elevation angles.
Summary of comments on other bands above 95 GHz
88. In response to ISED’s question on whether any other bands above 95 GHz could also be considered for licensed backhaul use and, if so, under what timelines, CSA, ECCC, ESA/EUMETSAT, Nokia, RABC and Rogers commented on other frequency bands of potential interest for backhaul applications.
89. CSA, ECCC and RABC noted that the ITU Radio Regulations permit fixed and land mobile services to use the frequency bands 275-296 GHz, 306-313 GHz, 318-333 GHz and 356-450 GHz, where no specific measures are necessary to protect EESS (passive) systems. CSA suggested that these bands could be identified for both licence-exempt operations and licensed backhaul applications. ECCC reiterated that ISED should wait for the outcome of WRC-23 before making any decisions related to licensed backhaul applications in the 231.5-252 GHz frequency range. RABC further proposed that the 252-275 GHz band also be identified for backhaul use while ensuring protection of primary allocated services in this band and passive service in the adjacent bands.
90. ESA/EUMETSAT repeated that for licensed backhaul use, ISED should first consider the bands that are already allocated or identified in the Radio Regulations for fixed services.
91. Nokia suggested that ISED keep its options open for identifying additional bands above 95 GHz for licensed backhaul applications in order to synchronize with global developments in spectrum above 95 GHz.
92. Without identifying any specific additional bands, Qualcomm indicated that it is studying bands above the D band for licensed operations and will update ISED on specific bands at a later stage.
93. TELUS did not see the need to identify any other frequency bands for licensed backhaul applications at this time. This was opposed by Rogers, who in its reply comments suggested that ISED should conduct work towards enabling fixed services in the 275-450 GHz band. Rogers, however, indicated this work should not take precedent over the W and D bands.
Summary of comments on licensing mechanism approach
94. With respect to the possible licensing mechanism for backhaul bands above 95 GHz, specifically whether to use a site-based radio licensing approach or an area-based spectrum licensing approach, CSA, FMCC, Nokia, Qualcomm, RABC, Rogers and TELUS were among respondents who provided specific views on this topic. In general, these commenters supported the use of an area-based spectrum licensing approach since the site-based radio licensing approach would be inefficient.
95. CSA indicated backhaul should only be permitted using a licensing regime, and after a proper coexistence analysis has been completed. RABC also commented that decisions on the licensing mechanism or on the size of the area-based licences should be taken after the completion of technical analysis and/or future consultation.
96. Nokia pointed out that site-based radio licensing is common in the relatively lower part of the spectrum (e.g. below 70 GHz). However, it can become impractical in the higher frequency ranges since the radio links become shorter and denser, especially in urban centres, and does not fit well with a licensing model requiring centralized coordination. Nokia noted that area-based spectrum licensing is the preferable option. Rogers and TELUS had similar views to Nokia.
97. Qualcomm generally stated that some bands above 95 GHz could be licensed using an area-based spectrum licensing approach while some other bands could use a site-based licensing approach. It further suggested that, due to the highly directional nature of communications links in these bands, ISED could permit mobile operations in these bands provided that fixed operations are protected.
98. In terms of feedback received on the specificities of the area-based spectrum licensing approach, i.e. if licensing should be on a first-come, first-served or shared-use basis, and if any conditions of licence should be considered to assist in coordination and managing interference, ESA/EUMETSAT, FMCC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Rogers and TELUS provided comments.
99. ESA/EUMETSAT welcomed the specific questions raised by ISED since enforceability is key in ensuring the effective and efficient use of the spectrum. ESA/EUMETSAT did not state any further suggestions on the specifics of a possible spectrum licensing approach.
100. FMCC did not support a first-come, first-served approach, stating that this approach had placed Indigenous providers at a disadvantaged position in the past. FMCC proposed that Indigenous entities be involved in licensing spectrum covering Indigenous lands or for services used by Indigenous peoples and that Indigenous entities should have first right of refusal for spectrum licences in their territories. FMCC also proposed ISED’s adoption of an Indigenous Priority Access Window to provide access to spectrum for Indigenous governments, organizations and service providers for spectrum in Indigenous territories.
101. Nokia was of the view that it would be impractical if the first-come, first-served model was applied to the entire spectrum. It also indicated that if part of the spectrum were to be allocated on a first-come, first-served model, there should be conditions of deployment attached, including “use it or lose it” mandates. Nokia also recommended that a local licensing regime be implemented with the option to aggregate licences over an extended geographical area. Nokia was also of the view that any decision regarding licensing for exclusive or shared use needs to be taken after a thorough analysis of use cases.
102. Qualcomm indicated being against the area-based spectrum licensing model that would be on a first-come, first-served basis, suggesting that a shared licensing approach can provide much greater levels of spectrum utilization and unleash waves of innovation in these new bands.
103. Rogers recommended, similar to Nokia, the investigation of exclusive or shared regimes. Rogers did not support the use of tiered-auction rights, citing the US example of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) tiered-auction and concerns expressed by US tier 2 and tier 3 operators regarding spectrum availability and interference if they are subordinate to spectrum use by tier 1 entities. In its reply comments, Rogers also indicated that although dynamic access licensing models promise to deliver efficiency gains, to date they seem to fail to deliver the results.
104. TELUS, in its comments, supported a shared spectrum licensing model where licensees are afforded a first-in priority for registered sites relative to subsequently registered sites and accompanied by an appropriate set of technical rules to ensure coexistence.
105. The comments submitted by stakeholders have provided ISED with valuable insight into the introduction of licensed backhaul services in frequencies above 95 GHz.
106. The majority of respondents supported the view that the W and D bands are potentially suitable for accommodating an increasing demand in backhaul capacity. However, ISED also notes some stakeholders expressed the need to consider the development of other potential services in these frequency ranges. As mentioned by RABC and Nokia, one possible option to consider future 6G developments could be to only open the D band in the near term for backhaul applications and to delay the decision on the W band. Based on the limited comments received, ISED is of the view that it may be premature to make a decision on the best possible approach related to considering the release of these bands for 6G mobile applications. Furthermore, industry studies on 6G and the optimal spectrum for its use are nascent.
107. In terms of timelines, ISED notes the comments indicating that the earliest estimate of backhaul equipment availability is 2025. Other countries have also not yet made final decisions on opening all or parts of the W and D bands for licenced backhaul use. Further developments in this regard could take place in the next few years and identify opportunities to maximize the harmonization of licensed backhaul use in this spectrum. Monitoring the developments in backhaul, including mobile technology, for the W and D bands over the coming years will provide ISED with better information on the best approach to enable backhaul in the near term while considering potential 6G developments.
108. Stakeholder responses also conveyed concerns for the protection of and coexistence with other services in these bands. ISED notes that the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is currently in the process of developing recommendations on out-of-band emission limits for the W and D bands that would ensure the protection of EESS and SRS services allocated in adjacent bands to the fixed service.
109. With respect to licensing mechanisms, many of the respondents supported area-based spectrum licensing over site-based radio licensing, as well as provisions for enabling shared use as opposed to exclusive licensing on a first-come, first-served basis. An area-based spectrum licensing approach would enable higher density backhaul links by multiple operators in the same areas. As indicated in the Consultation, the implementation of a licensing regime will require further consultation by ISED to address other elements of the licensing mechanism such as the definition of areas, fees, and other requirements.
110. ISED acknowledges FMCC’s concern that any licensing regime should consider Indigenous access to spectrum. In ISED’s recently released Consultation on the Spectrum Outlook 2022 to 2026, ISED acknowledged that Indigenous input is crucial to using spectrum policy to advance economic reconciliation. In that consultation, ISED also committed to considering ways of better engaging Indigenous peoples and developing a deeper understanding of the unique connectivity issues faced by Indigenous communities.
111. Taking the above into account, ISED is of the view that it would be in the best interest of Canadians not to finalize the designation of all or parts of the W and D bands for licenced backhaul at this time. ISED would benefit from monitoring developments in other jurisdictions and advancements in technology during the time between this decision and a subsequent consultation. In addition, further consultation by ISED is also necessary to address the details of the backhaul licensing framework. Therefore, ISED will consider a future consultation on enabling licenced backhaul applications in the W and/or D bands, as well as the detailed licensing framework. ISED will take the comments of this consultation as well as technology and international developments into account towards setting the right time for a future consultation.
In the future, ISED will consult on enabling licensed backhaul in the W and/or D bands and the associated licensing framework.
112. With respect to other potential backhaul bands above 95 GHz, stakeholders identified a number of other bands between 174.8 GHz and 450 GHz that could potentially be useful for backhaul systems. These comments have provided important information that ISED will consider in its planning activities for possible future consultations, including monitoring the development of the technology in this spectrum range.
9. Next steps
113. As a result of the decisions made in this document, ISED will update the CTFA. Furthermore, in consultation with the RABC and other stakeholders, ISED will develop the applicable technical standards for the equipment described above. When suitable, ISED will consult further on the licensing framework for backhaul use above 95 GHz.
10. Obtaining copies
114. All ISED publications related to spectrum management and telecommunications are available on the Spectrum Management and Telecommunications website.
115. For further information concerning the process outlined in this document or related matters, contact:
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Engineering, Planning and Standards Branch
Senior Director, Terrestrial Engineering and Standards
6th Floor, East Tower
235 Queen St
Ottawa ON K1A 0H5