Developmental Licence Playbook

Do you need access to spectrum to test your new business idea?

Experience what many innovators have known for years:
Canada is a premium location for testing the future of wireless

Canada has it all!
Fast and flexible licensing
An agile licensing process, designed to get you testing more quickly and easily
Telecom ecosystem
Technology clusters and research institutes across the country – Canadians are advanced users and developers of mobile products and services
Geographic diversity
A diverse footprint with dense urban areas, mountain ranges, wide-open spaces, oceans and ice caps – lets you test in all kinds of environments
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About the developmental licence program

Learn how Canada supports innovation by providing temporary access to spectrum to test your innovation or service

How do I qualify?

Learn about the types of developmental licences available along with associated fees and see if you qualify

Apply now

Tell us about your plan by completing the Letter of Intent form

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How is my application processed?

 Learn what happens after you send your Letter of Intent form to us and where to call for additional information

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About the developmental licence program

Are you a wireless innovator? Have you created a technology or service that could change the way wireless communication works and need access to spectrum to test the capabilities of your creation?

Today, spectrum is used by millions of devices across Canada and rules are in place for how this spectrum is used. This creates challenges for many innovators seeking to access spectrum – as well as for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). To address this, ISED has redesigned the developmental licence program to help innovators obtain temporary access to spectrum to test out new technology and services.

Developmental licences are offered to innovators who are testing the next wave of wireless technology and services. This unique type of licence is designed to facilitate access to wireless spectrum in order to test and validate solutions that advance Canada's leadership across a multitude of sectors including health care, transportation, smart cities, manufacturing, agriculture, public safety as well as exploring areas of fundamental research.

Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan is the Government's initiative to lead in a rapidly changing global economy and provide better opportunities for all Canadians. It represents the Government's commitment to inclusiveness, clean growth, and sustainable progress across our country by providing the means to harness the creativity and imagination of Canadians to realize new discoveries, grow our companies, and find ways to improve our living standard.

The plan provides more targeted, coordinated, and simpler support to innovators, and facilitates entrepreneurs, businesses, academia, and government working together on ideas and solutions that will produce transformative outcomes.

Innovation success story

Western Medical Sensing, Inc. came to ISED looking to test its sensing equipment that would serve to assist elderly healthcare patients living at home. They wanted to install and test sensors – 20 per home, in 50 homes – that would process critical health and safety information, such as whether the water/lights/appliances have been turned off/on, motion, doors and temperature information that can better assist the needs of a growing demographic of Canadians. These types of tests – with small networks and multiple sensors are part of the new wave of technological change in Canada, and ISED has adapted its approach to make it much simpler and accessible than before.

Today, with ISED expanding developmental licences to include area-based requests, we can provide Western Medical Sensing with a single licence that covers the frequency range required over the desired geographical location.

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To support this plan, ISED has been working with the innovation community to come up with a more streamlined solution to obtain wireless licences to help bring ideas to reality. Supporting the innovator community is a priority for ISED, and providing better access to developmental licences aligns with ISED initiatives such as superclusters and support for small businesses.

How do I qualify?

The developmental licences program is open to a wide range of applications – as long as the project meets the criteria.

Licences are issued to innovators according to the following criteria:

Relates to research and development

Focuses on advancing technology

Will be time limited

Does not interfere with current or anticipated systems

Will not be used for a commercial trial that involves financial cost recovery from users

Types of developmental licences and associated fees

Developmental radio licences includes testing for fixed and land mobile systems using new technology or services, narrowband technologies, higher-powered towers/antennas, low band spectrum or systems that generally use a smaller total amount of higher-powered devices.

Examples: radio stations, narrowband wireless communication systems, mobile broadband antennas, and fixed broadband systems

Fees for developmental radio licences are set out in the Radiocommunication Regulations and have been adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index since 2019. Updated fees can be found on the Spectrum and telecommunications fees web page. For mobile stations, please refer to Item 4 in Part I of Schedule III and for fixed stations, please refer to Item 1 in Part III of Schedule III. The fee for each station includes all authorized transmit and receive frequencies.

Developmental spectrum licences includes testing for systems that use small cell, high-density devices (e.g. sensors), use high band spectrum, low power over a wide area or capacity trials using multiple apparatus.

Examples: Internet of Things, autonomous automobiles, smart cities, dynamic spectrum access, haptic technologies, and augmented reality devices

No fees currently apply to developmental spectrum licences.

Developmental earth/space station licences includes testing of satellite technology systems with fixed and mobile earth stations.

Examples: testing new earth station antennas to support mobile applications and next generation satellite systems, testing satellite de-orbiting technologies, and certain academic projects

Developmental earth/mobile satellite licences are linked to the following fee schedule as described in Guidelines for the Submission of Applications to Provide Mobile Satellite Services in Canada.

Test information

By providing information about the nature of your intended trial, ISED will be better able to react to any necessary regulatory changes that could help bring new technology to market.

Project objectives and timelines relating to the nature of the test/trial along with technical information on any apparatus or system will be required at the time of application and will be held in confidence.

We invite all innovators to submit final test results upon completion of the trial on a voluntary basis.


Developmental licences are generally granted for up to one year, renewable as long as licence conditions continue to be met and that your trial continues to meet the criteria to qualify for a developmental licence.

Apply now

By telling us about your plan, we will be able to provide you with the licence most appropriate to your goals. ISED will review your plans and work to issue you authority to get started.

For requests related to earth/space stations, please complete annex B found in the Guidelines for the Submission of Applications to Provide Mobile Satellite Services in Canada document.

How is my application processed?

Steps for obtaining a developmental licence

Step 1

Complete and submit the Letter of Intent through our website.

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Step 2

ISED will assess your Letter of Intent and communicate with you to ensure that we issue a licence that suits the testing activity.

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Step 3

ISED will issue your licence upon receipt of fees.

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Step 4

You can then conduct testing under the specified licence. You can renew the licence subject to meeting criteria and conditions.

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Step 5

Upon completion of your test/trial, we invite you to submit your test results so we can evolve our framework to anticipate the next wave in wireless technology.

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Contact us

For further questions related to the developmental licence program, please contact the regional or district office nearest to your intended test site.