Objectives and Methodology for the Over-the-air Television Transition

January 2017

1. Intent

1. This paper outlines the objectives and methodology thatwill be used by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in establishingthe transition plan and schedule for over-the-air(OTA) TV stations as part of the repurposing of the 600 MHz frequencyband in Canada.

2. Background

2. In December 2014, ISED released the Consultation on Repurposing the 600 MHz Bandfrom broadcast to mobile services. The associated decision to proceed with a joint repurposing withthe United States (U.S.) was released in August 2015. The jointrepurposing will reconfigure the 600 MHz band by repacking OTA TV stations moretightly in lower frequencies, making the upper portion of the band availablefor commercial mobile broadband. 

3. To this end, ISED and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aredeveloping a joint new digital TV (DTV) allotment plan identifying the channelsand associated parameters for OTA TV stations. In Canada, all OTA regular powerand low power TV stations are expected to be assigned a channel. In the U.S., theFCC is conducting an incentive auction to determine which U.S. OTA TV stationswill be assigned channels. As a result, the full list of stationshaving a channel in the new joint allotment plan cannot be determined until theconclusion of the U.S. incentive auction.

4. The transition involves the reassignment of some OTA TV stationsto new channels and/or digital operations identified in the new DTV allotmentplan, as well as the schedule for those changes. To completetheir transition, broadcasters will need to test their infrastructure to ensurethat their TV stations are operating in accordancewith their approved parameters and that the required protection is beingafforded to other broadcasting undertakings. While both the current and new allotment plans are designed to manage theinterference environment, they are not necessarily compatible concurrently. 

5.Station dependencies form when one station cannottransition until another station has completed its transition, without causinginterference.  During the transition, there is the potential fortemporary interference as stations test their facilities and begin operating ontheir new channels while others continue to operate on their original channels. The scheduling of station moves is paramount in order to limit thelevel of temporary interference. As the number of stations that need totransition increases, so does the complexity of coordinating the timing of alltesting activities.

6.In its 2015 decision, ISED adopted two overarching transitionpriorities: i) minimizing the impact to TV viewers during thetransition period, and ii) maximizing the amount of time and other resourcesavailable to broadcasters. 

7.To facilitate the orderly execution of thetransition in a manner that is in the best interest of Canadians, the transition will consist of a series of phases. Each transition phasewill begin at the same time, but will have sequential end dates.  Stations areto cease operating on their original channel by this time.Footnote 1 Prior to the end ofeach phase, there will be a definedon-air testing period for broadcasters to test the operation of theirfacilities. While broadcasters may conduct the necessary transition activities (e.g.planning and construction) at any time throughout their phase, they can only testtheir new systems during the on-air testing period to minimize interference.

8.As the actual sequence of station channel changes will notbe determined until the new channel assignments are known, the transition plan andschedule will be developed using a series of objectives and a methodology.

9.In April 2016, ISED engaged Canadian OTA TVbroadcasters through participation in a series of discussions organized by theRadio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC) aimed at developing Canadian objectivesand methodology to be used in creating the joint transition plan and schedule. Thesediscussions focused on the analysis of technical factors and considerationspertaining to the transition of OTA TV stations.

10. ISED presented 600 MHz – Proposed TV Transition Objectives andMethodology, atan RABC meeting held on September 30, 2016. These were designed to provide anorderly and manageable transition, taking into consideration the time requiredfor broadcasters to transition, the potential impact on viewers and theefficient allocation of limited resources. TheDepartment’s proposals were also based on the technical concepts discussedduring the RABC meetings and reflected the feedback received from broadcastersand other participants.

11.To ensure transparency and to provide additionalopportunity for input regarding transition issues that will impact theOTA TV broadcasting community, ISED published its Notice of Engagement Regarding the 600 MHz Transition Plan Objectivesand Methodology onOctober 31, 2016. Consistent with the joint repurposing of the600 MHz band, ISED and the FCC are coordinatingclosely on transition planning.

12.All comments in response to the notice of engagement are availableon ISED’s Spectrum Management and Telecommunicationswebsite.   Comments were received from the RABC and Bell Canada. 

3. Overall proposals and comments

13.In the notice of engagement, ISED proposed and sought comments on the objectives and methodology tobe used to develop the transition plan and schedule. Specifically, objectivesand rules were proposed to address the assignment of stations to phases, aswell as the tasks and process parameters to be used for scheduling, including extendingthe overall transition through supplementary phases. 

14.Overall, the RABC supported ISED’sproposals, as outlined in the consultation and provided some suggestions and enhancements.On technical issues, Bell Canada fully supported and endorsed the commentsprovided by the RABC, but also supplied additional comments regarding theamount of time afforded to Canadian broadcasters. Both the RABC and Bell Canada provided additional comments beyondthe scope of the notice of engagement, which are not addressed in thisdocument. 

4. Transition objectives

15.In a complex transition such as this, cooperation is needed toachieve a plan that is realistic and implementable, satisfying the goals ofeach Administration. Stations on both sides of the border are to be treatedfairly and equally, with a goal to complete the transition in an orderly andcoordinated fashion, while making it practical and timely.   

16.ISED notes that while similar, Canada has slightly differenttransition objectives from those of the U.S. (i.e. Canada's priority is toallow additional time for Canadian stations to transition, whereas the U.S.’priority is to clear stations in the 600 MHz band). The joint Canada‑U.S.transition plan and schedule must be developed to account for and balance thetransition needs and priorities of both countries.

17.The RABC supported all of the Canadian objectives, however raisedconcerns with the U.S.’s primary objective of clearing the 600 MHz band asquickly as possible. The RABC suggested that this objective not be applied nearthe Canada/U.S. border, as it would increase the duration of temporaryinterference to Canadian stations, impacting viewers and television ratings.

18.The phased-transition planand schedule will be based on a series of objectivesFootnote 2 reflecting the needsof Canadian broadcasters, TV viewers, and mobile service providers, whileproviding for an orderly and structuredtransition.

19.Having considered stakeholderfeedback on the proposals, ISED will be applying the following objectives:Footnote 3

Objective 1:  Maximize the amount of time for broadcasters to transition theirstations, while still ensuring a timely transition. 

Objective 2:  Minimize theimpact of the transition on viewers. 

Objective 3:  Minimize the complexityof the transition. 

Objective 4:  Maximize the efficient use of resources. 

5. Methodology for assigning stations to phases

20.Each transitioning station will be assigned to aspecific phase based on the following rules and then optimized to furtherpromote the objectives. These transition rules reduce impact to broadcastersand viewership by limiting undue interference, the number of rescans requiredand the number of station dependencies.

5.1 Limiting temporaryinterference to 2%

21.The transition will involve dependencies between stations, increasingits overall complexity.  During the transition, there is the potential fortemporary additional interference as stations conduct on-air testing and beginto operate on their newly assigned channels while others still continueoperating on their original channels. 

22.Allowing a temporary 2% pairwise additional interferenceFootnote 4 during the transition was proposed tostrike a balance between Objective 3 by reducing the complexity of the overalltransition (i.e. reducing the number of station dependencies) and Objective 2by having minimal effect on the signal quality received by viewers regardlessof whether operating in digital or analogue mode. Additionally, to minimize theduration of interference, broadcasters will only be able to test their newfacilities during their phase’s specified on-air testing periods.  Furthermore, stationsassigned to transition within the same phase that have dependencies causing morethan 2% temporary pairwise interference will need to closely coordinate witheach other prior to testing their new facilities.

23.The RABC acknowledged that temporary technical rules and temporaryinterference are unavoidable during the transition and did not object to the proposed2% temporary pairwise interference level. They also emphasized that theduration of interference is as important a consideration as the level ofinterference and suggested that ISED limit the duration of temporaryinterference to further reduce the impact on viewership.

24.ISED recognizes broadcasters concerns in minimizing the duration oftemporary interference.  ISED notes that the duration of theinterference, although temporary, will be further reduced as stations withinthe same market/region transition during the same phase.Footnote 5

25.Moreover, to further limit the temporaryinterference experienced by stations, ISEDwill adjust the transition schedule to reduce the aggregate temporaryinterference to below 5%, where possible.

Rule 1:
Temporary pairwise additional interference of up to 2 % will be permitted during the transition. Broadcasters with stations, assigned to transition in the same phase, which cause more than 2 percent pairwise interference, will be required to coordinate with each other prior to testing their new systems.

5.2 Assignment of Canadian stations to early phases

26.In the Department’s Decision on Repurposing the 600 MHz Band,ISED concluded that all regular power TV undertakings currently operating belowthe to-be-repurposed 600 MHz band that need to relocate to a new channelassignment and/or convert to digital, would be provided with a minimum of 18months to transition, after the plan is finalized. Additionally, as ISED has adopteda phase-based transition, those stations scheduled in later phases will benefitfrom transition periods longer than 18 months.

27.Based on initial simulations and transition scenarios, it is expectedthat phase 3 will be the first phase scheduled for completion more than 18months after the release of the transition plan. To further the primaryobjective of maximizing the amount of time for broadcasters to transition theirstations, the Department proposed that no Canadian regular power station would beassigned earlier than phase 3.  However, depending on the new DTV allotmentplan, the actual phase that provides the minimum 18 months to transition mightchange.

28.The RABC supports the Department’s proposalnoting that based on initial simulations Canadian regular power TV stations may be provided aneven longer minimum transition period.

Rule 2:
No Canadian station will be assigned to a transition phase shorter than 18 months.

5.3 Extending the length of the transition 

29.TheFCC intends to transition U.S.stations in 10 phases within 39 months as it prepares to open the 600 MHz bandto commercial broadband mobile applications and services. 

30.Although similar, Canada and the U.S. have slightlydifferent transition objectives.  To further support Objective 1, ISEDproposed to extend the transition beyond 39 months, with the addition ofsupplemental phases. Extending the transition period provides broadcasters moretime, but also further relieves pressure on potentially limited resources and increasesthe opportunity for suppliers from the U.S. to work with Canadian stations ontheir transition, consistent with Objective 4

31.TheRABC and Bell Canada supported the Department’s proposal to extend thetransition beyond 39 months for Canadian stations by adding extra phases, whileurging that nostation should be forced to go off-air for reasons beyond its control.  Takinginto account complexities, scope of work and uniquely Canadian factors, theyemphasized that Canadian stations should be given the maximum amount of timepossible to transition, while noting that broadcasters would not be able toinitiate planning activities until they are notified of their newly assignedchannels.

32.Indeveloping the final joint transition plan, ISED will place priority onscheduling Canadian stations in later transition phases, effectively providingthem more time to implement the transition while attentive to prioritiesestablished by the FCC.Footnote 6 While Canadian stations that impede the U.S.’ ability to repurpose the bandwill be assigned to transition within the first 39 months; the Department willstrive to schedule these stations in later phases of this period.   

33.Itis premature to define the number of additional phases and extended transitionperiod, as the new DTV allotment is not yet known.  Once the number of stationsrequired to transition and/or convert from analogue to digital operation isknown, a practical number of phases will be added, extending the transitionperiod.

Rule 3:
The transition of Canadian stations will be extended beyond 39 months. The number of additional phases to be added will be determined once the number of Canadian stations that could be scheduled in the additional phases is known.

5.4 Determining the number of phases for a market  

34.A market-based transition approach groups stationsby service area scheduling them to transition at the same time. Some regions may include numerous transitioning stations.  Assigning stations withina “servicearea grouping”  to a minimum number of phases will limit theimpact on viewers, Objective 2, by reducing the number ofTV channel rescans required and the duration oftemporary interference between stations. 

35.Minimizing the number of phases per “servicearea grouping” also supports Objective 4 by facilitating the efficientallocation and use of resources by broadcasters. By clustering stations withina general service area in the same phase, broadcast tower crews will have theopportunity to concentrate on these stations without dividing their timetravelling to other markets, reducing the overall timing of the projects.  Assuch, ISED proposed to minimize the number of phases per “service areagrouping” to no more than two.

36.The RABC supported a market-based approach and limitingthe number of phases per general service area to no more than two. They furtherrecommended that efforts be made to ensure that the scheduled phases for a “servicearea grouping” be adjacent or near-adjacent phases to reduce the duration oftemporary interference.

37.After further review, the Department notes that restrictingthe number of phases per “service area grouping” to no more than two may forcesome stations into earlier phases, which would artificially reduce the amountof transition time afforded to these broadcasters. The same would hold true if “servicearea groupings” were forced into sequential phases. In order to balance the manycompeting criteria, including the number of phases per “service area grouping” and maximizing the amount of time given for stations to transition, limitingthe number of phases to no more than two per “service area grouping” or assigningthem in sequential phases may not be practical. 

Rule 4:
The number of phases per “service area grouping” will be minimized.

5.5 Balancing the number of stations among phases

38.Depending on the number of stationstransitioning and their particular location, there is the potential that sometransition phases may contain a much larger number of stations than others. Balancingthe distribution of stations across all phases supports Objective 4. It facilitatesthe management and allocation of resources, especially as there may be limitedavailability of particular resources such as broadcast tower crews for antennainstallation. 

39.ISED sought comments on balancing the number ofstations transitioning in each phase by limiting the difference in the numberof stations within each phase to 30. After further review, given that thenumber of stations and their dependencies is not yet known, and as ISED intends to provide Canadian stationswith the maximum amount of time to transition, it may not be practical to establisha pre-determined limit.

40.There were no comments regarding overall stationbalancing. As a result, the Department will balance the number of stations transitioningin each phase taking into account the final number of stations that arerequired to transition and/or convert and the decision on the total number of phases.

41.However, the RABC did suggest that broadcasters withmore than four stations scheduled to transition within the same phase begranted additional phases or time, at their discretion, to complete the transition.The transition is a complex process involving the coordination of a largeamount of stations, many of which have national and international dependencies.Providing each broadcaster with the ability to determine when to transitionwould undermine the ability of Canada and the U.S. to transition stations in anorderly manner that reduces interference.    

42.Furthermore, consistentwith the phased-transition, all phases are scheduled to start at the same time,providing stations scheduled in later phases with additional time to completethe transition. This will allow broadcasters some flexibility to manage andplan their overall transition. Redistributing stations to other phases mayresult in longer periods of temporary interference for others, while potentiallyplacing additional strain on the overall availability of resources and impactto viewers. For example, certain broadcasters may be required totransition many stations. Limiting the number of stations per broadcaster per phaseto four may therefore not support a timely transition.    

Rule 5:
The number of stations per phase will be balanced to the extent practical.

5.6 Station dependencies and daisy-chains

43.This transition will involve sequentialdependencies between stations called daisy-chains, which can be quite lengthy, spanningvast areas of both countries. Depending on the number of stations required totransition, some daisy-chains may consist of hundreds of stations linkedtogether by dependencies.

44.Limiting the number of linked stations within thesame transition phase further supports Objective 3. It greatly simplifies thecomplexities associated with the overall transition.  Reducing the number of stationdependencies within a single daisy-chain and number of linked stations alsofacilitates the on-air testing process by easing coordination betweenbroadcasters. As such, ISED proposed to limit the number of linked stations per phase to125 stations.

45.There were no comments on ISED’s proposal. ISEDestimates that the proposed limit would result in a manageable number of linkedstations.  However, as the new DTV allotment plan and associated dependencieshave yet to be determined, it is premature for ISED to define a maximum numberof linked stations per phase.

Rule 6:
The number of linked stations per phase will be minimized to the extent practical.

5.7 Assignment of temporary channels

46.The use of temporary channels is an effectiveway of de-linking stations from daisy-chains, reducing the extent of inter-stationcoordination between broadcasters and the overall complexity of the transition.However, assigning a temporary channel to a station would effectively make it transitiontwice: first to the temporary channel, and later to its final channel. Thisincreases the amount of work required, potentially placing a further strain onlimited resources as well as likely necessitating additional equipment. The useof temporary channels will also create the need for an additional rescan by viewers.

47.Based on these limitations, ISED proposedto consider the assignment of temporary channels during the transition on acase-by-case basis at the specific request of broadcasters. Inassessing these requests, the Department would endeavor to balance the needs ofthe broadcaster with the implications on resource availability, the potentialfor additional temporary interference to other stations as well as the overalltransition plan. 

48.The RABC agreed with the Department’s proposal,noting that the use of temporary channels could increase the associated costs,resources and time necessary to complete the transition. However, they indicatedthat there may be special cases where the use of a temporary channel may allowfor the continuity of a station’s operations or provide greater efficiency inthe completion of the transition.

49.The Department recognizes that in specificinstances the use of a temporary channel may benefit the transition by allowinga station to continue broadcasting, albeit on a different channel.  ISED willconsider the assignment of temporary channels on a case-by-case basis atthe specific request of broadcasters. In making such requests,broadcasters should indicate how their proposal benefits the transition planand addresses interference to other stations.

Rule 7:
Temporary channels will not be assigned to stations unless specifically requested by a broadcaster. Requests to operate on a temporary channel will be assessed by the Department on the basis of their impact to the transition plan.

5.8 Ordering of Canadian stations

50.ISED’s firstobjective is to maximize the amount of time forbroadcasters to relocate to new DTV assignments, taking into consideration the associated planningand construction activities, while ensuring atimely transition. Althoughsimilar, the U.S. has a slightly different priority in that, while providingsufficient time for U.S. broadcasters to transition, it will prioritize therelocation of stations in the 600 MHz commercial mobile band.

51.Recognizing theU.S.’ priorities while at the same time facilitating the Canadian transition, aspecific order for the assignment of Canadian stations to transition phases wasproposed. As such, ISED sought comments on assigningCanadian stations to transition phases inthe following order:

  1. stations impeding the transition of U.S. stations;
  2. stations operating in the “TV band” with dependencies;
  3. stations operating in the 600 MHz to be repurposed band (“mobile band”); and
  4. stations with no dependencies.

52. The RABC noted that the station ordering proposed by ISED is different than in the U.S. where stations operating in the 600 MHz band will be scheduled to earlier phases. The RABC was concerned that this may result in a longer than necessary period of temporary interference to Canadian stations along the border. The RABC encouraged the Department to ensure that the station order and scheduling are complementary between the two countries sothat the duration of temporary interference is taken into account.

53.The Department notes that there continues to bea need to facilitate the joint transition by scheduling stations with U.S.dependencies before other stations. At the same time, Canada’s objective ofproviding the maximum amount of time for stations to transition would beachieved by scheduling these stations to later phases, as much as possible. 

54.However, after further review, the Department findsit overly restrictive to establish a specific order based on categories andinstead, will assign stations to phases based on overall objectives and the considerationsnoted in the discussion in Section 5.

Rule 8:
Stations with U.S. dependencies will be scheduled within phases 3 to 10.

6. Phase scheduling

55.ISED willdetermine, in collaboration with the FCC, the overall transition schedule andthe duration of each phase taking into account resource availability as well asother considerations like weather and rating periods, where possible. 

6.1 Transition activities and planning parameters

56.ISED consulted onthe planning parameters and values to determine the length of time necessaryfor stations to complete the transition.  The Department recognizes that theactivities associated with a station’stransition to a new channel and/or converting from analogue to digitaloperation can vary greatly among broadcasters and OTA TV stations. While some activities may be done concurrently,others must be done sequentially.

57.The RABC stressed the importance of accountingfor complexities when establishing the duration of each phase and suggestedadditional activities be included within the list of transition activities,such as the application process and tower modification/relocation.

58.A list ofactivities associated with transitioning stations can be found in Annex A. Whilenot exhaustive, the list has been updated to include the additional activitiesprovided by the RABC.

59.Only one comment was received regarding thespecific planning parameter values. The RABC questioned the extent of thederived benefits from broadcast tower crews working on shared tower sites. Whileacknowledging that the total time necessary for tower crews to install antennascan be reduced, they contended that the use by other services should also beconsidered when determining the necessary time for stations on a shared site totransition. They indicated that this could result in additional work for otherusers should the TV stations need to relocate or change out their antennas.

60.ISED notes that thetotal time necessary for the installation of antennas can be reduced drawing onefficiencies as broadcast tower crews take advantage of the need to only traveland rig the site with installation equipment once. While still appreciating thetime-saving opportunities, the Department recognizes there may be other factorsincluding coordination with other services to consider. As such, ISED has adjustedthe time savings associated with stations operating on a shared tower (i.e. the time required to transition themost difficult station plus 50% of the time associated with each additionalstation).

61.As Canadianbroadcasters will be provided a minimum of 18 months to complete the transitionand are being purposely scheduled in later transition phases, they will havemore time to complete their transition than the listed planning parametervalues. Furthermore, Canadian stations are purposely being scheduled in laterphases, giving the majority even more time to complete their stations’transition. 

6.2 Transition resources

62.Some transitionactivities require specialized resources, such as broadcasttower crews, as well as antennas, transmitters and combiners, which given the scope of the transition, may be in limited supply. Assuch, the Department recognizes that some broadcasters may not be able toimmediately access these limited resources and may have to wait until theinstallations at other sites are completed and for manufacturers to deliverequipment. The Department proposed to build these considerations into thetransition schedule, recognizing that stations assigned to later phases willhave additional time to transition.

63.The RABC and Bell Canada raisedconcerns about the limited availability of particular resources and theirpotential to impact the transition. They stressed that not only will there beincreased demand for qualified and experienced broadcast tower crews (with thenecessary specialized equipment) from Canadian and American broadcasters butalso from other radio and telecommunication services. They also emphasized thatincreased demand could affect equipment manufacturing, resulting in deliverydelays. They expressed concern that their ability to access resources may bediminished due to preexisting contractual agreements or preferred customerarrangements.

64.ISED engaged tower crew companies and antennamanufacturers to discuss their availability and capacity to facilitate thetransition. Their feedback indicated that should the demand from broadcastersexceed their current capacities, they have the ability to ramp-up theirservices and production. Some tower crew companies expressed their ability toincrease the number of concurrent crews and to acquire supplemental specializedequipment. 

65. In light of the above considerations, ISED confirmsthat the values listed in Annex B will be used to derive the joint transition plan.   

7. Additional comments and discussion

66.The RABC provided additional technical commentsin response to the consultation related to the adjustments and flexibilitywithin the transition plan, use of future technologies, broadcast distributionundertakings and coverage parameters.    

7.1 Adjustments and flexibility of the transition planand schedule

67.The RABC raised concerns with the development ofa transition plan and schedule prior to broadcasters’ completing their analysisof the work required to transition their stations. The RABC recommended firstpublishing a preliminary schedule, which could be adjusted to reflectparticular stations’ complexities. They stressed the importance of being ableto explore inter-broadcaster solutions (e.g. sharing of antenna systems) andthe potential for extensive delays associated with relocating towers as reasonsfor not finalizing the transition plan immediately.

68.They also recommended that the overall transitionplan and schedule be flexible to account for unforeseendelays or incorrect assumptions during the course of the transition, notingthat maximum flexibility should be afforded to stations to account for delaysin implementing the transition to new channels. 

69.While it is understood that there may be someuncertainty whether a particular station will change its channel, broadcasterscan perform many upfront planning activities, including conducting an inventoryof their equipment’s specifications and capabilities. Further to Objective 1, ISED intends to maximize the time for broadcasters to transitionwhile ensuring a timely transition. Waiting until broadcasters complete theiranalysis prior to establishing the transition plan could delay the transitionsignificantly.  

70.However, the Department recognizes thatunforeseen situations may arise beyond broadcasters’ control during thetransition. In exceptional circumstances, ISED may consider requests for the redistribution of stations todifferent transition phases on a case-by-case basis.  However, in making suchrequests, broadcasters should advise the Department assoon as possible and indicate how their proposalbenefits the overall transition plan, addresses interference to others andminimizes impact on viewership. Additionally, if an entire area is uniquely affectedthe Department may explore adjusting thetransition plan and schedule by reducing the duration of on-air testing periods,if needed. While ISED will endeavor to provideflexibility, this may be limited given thecomplexities of the overall transition.   

7.2 Future technologies

71.The RABC requested that the transition plan allow for the use offuture transmission standards, such as ATSC 3.0. They wouldlike the option to continue broadcasting using the current digital TV standard(ATSC 1.0) or utilize other new standards, like ATSC 3.0

72.ATSC 3.0, also known as Next Generation TV, isthe latest standard being developed by the Advanced Television SystemsCommittee, in a response to the evolution of consumer needs and as a reactionto technological advancements. 

73.The Department recognizes thatconsumers are adapting their viewing habits and seek the ability to watcheverything, on any device, wherever they are. 

74.The Department strives to remain technology neutralin its development of policies, procedures and rules, and encourages the use ofnew technologies. ISED will consider all availabletechnologies in order to maximize spectrum efficiency. It is expected that thetransition process will support the use of new technologies in the futureprovided all existing broadcasting rules and regulations are followed. ISEDwill update and/or develop rules and regulations for the use of futuretechnologies in Canada, as needed.

7.3 Broadcasting distribution undertakings

75.While a subset of the Canadian population receivestheir TV signals over-the-air, most Canadians receive their local televisionstations’ signals from broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDU), includingcable and satellite service providers. 

76.The RABC indicated that during the transition,the distribution of OTA TV stations by BDUs must remain unchanged and based onthe existing station’s coverage and contour.

77.The Department notes that while the repackingprocess strives to preserve a station’s coverage area and total area within itsnoise-limited bounding contour (NLBC), there may be some small differences in the geographic location of thestation’s new NLBC. As BDUs’ transmission of TVstations are based on the stations’ coverage and contour, ISED acknowledgesthat there may be variances as a result of the repacking. The Department alsounderstands that the Canadian Radio-television and TelecommunicationsCommission (CRTC) is aware of the possible impacts and has taken steps toaddress them.Footnote 7

7.4 Coverage parameters

78.To calculate the population service values, theRABC proposed that ISED recommend the use of a standard terrain-sensitivepropagation model (i.e. Longley-Rice) to reduce the possibility of calculationdifferences, noting that it would also facilitate Canada-U.S. coordination, ifthe same model was used by the FCC. Along with the model, the RABC noted that astandard set of parameters to be used during the analyses should also bespecified. 

79.ISED will continue to use, for the transitionprocess, the technical parameters and assumptions contained within the Department’srepurposing decisionFootnote 8and the joint Canada –U.S. reconfiguration framework.Footnote 9 

8. Next steps

80.ISED will develop a joint transition plan and schedule based onthe described objectives and methodology to implement the joint DTV allotmentplan as part of the 600 MHz repurposing. Additionally, the transition plan and schedulewill take into account thecumulative impacts of all changes to broadcasters, domestically andinternationally. 

81. The Department will oversee and monitor the transition’s progress, keeping in communication with broadcasters throughout the process.

Annex A — Activities Related to Transitioning OTA TV stationsFootnote 10

The following isa list of transition associated activities. This is not an exhaustive list andwill vary depending on each broadcaster’s specific transition needs. TheDepartment appreciates that not all broadcasters will conduct each listedactivity, given the differences between stations and their unique transitionrequirements.


  • Planning
  • Structural tower analysis
  • Engineering design
  • Application process
  • Application evaluation
  • Permitting (e.g. lease, zoning, land-use authority)
  • Equipment acquisition


  • Tower modifications and/or replacement     
  • Facility upgrades (e.g. AC power, cooling and ventilation systems)
  • Antenna installation
  • Installation and/or retuning of transmitters, combiners, and radiofrequency mask filters
  • Calibration of equipment and testing
  • Final system testing and coordination of stations between broadcasters during on air-testing

Annex B — Input and Planning Parameters

Input and Planning Parameters
Planning parameters Value
Antenna Delivery:
  • Directional antenna
  • Omnidirectional antenna

24 weeks
12 weeks
Antenna manufacturing capacity 80– 88/month
  • Pre-construction stage activities:
    • Complicated stations
    • DTV stations
    • LPTV stations
  • Construction-related activities
    • Complicated stations
    • DTV stations
    • LPTV stations

  • 72 weeks
  • 32 weeks
  • 24 weeks

  • 32 weeks
  • 24 weeks
  • 12 weeks
Antenna installation base time 10–40 days (+/- 5 days)
Antenna installation on multi-TV station tower Most difficult station + 50% of each additional station’s time
Minimum on-air testing period 4 weeksFootnote 11