Skip to main content

Industry Canada Decision Opens 2 GHz Spectrum for AWS-4/MSS

Industry Canada, Canada's telecommunications regulator, has announced a decision on a policy, technical and licensing framework for Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS-4) in the 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz bands. The decision notes that two geostationary satellites are in orbit and have the capability to provide MSS in the 2 GHz spectrum in Canada and the U.S. EchoStar G1 (previously DBSD G1) and EchoStar T1 (previously TerreStar-1) are owned by DISH Network Inc. A DISH subsidiary, Gamma Acquisition Canada ULC, holds a license to provide MSS in Canada using 2000-2010 MHz paired with 2190-2200 MHz. TerreStar holds a Canadian license to provide MSS using the same frequency band using the EchoStar T1 satellite through a commercial agreement with Gamma Canada. TerreStar has a special authorization to operate ATC (ancillary terrestrial component) in the band that allows deployment of terrestrial operations as a compliment to the satellite component.

Industry Canada decided to adopt the same band plan used in the U.S., including providing licensees the flexibility to select the duplex direction of the band 2000-2020 MHz for terrestrial use.

MSS licensees will be required to demonstrate MSS in the 2 GHz band is available and being offered throughout Canada within five years of issuance of the license (March 31, 2020). Should the satellite fail, the operator will have 48 months to replace the satellite in order to continue MSS operations. The ATC licensees will be required to demonstrate within five years of license grant that MSS is being offered in the 2 GHz band throughout the entire Tier 1 license area and will continue to be offered across the entire Tier 1 area. ATC licensees will have to demonstrate deployment to 30 percent of the population of the Tier 1 license area within five years of license issuance and be required to demonstrate deployment to the Tier 2 levels within 10 years of license issuance.

The decision states “Industry Canada develop technical rules for the 2 GHz band, harmonizing with the U.S. rules to the extent feasible. The Department will do this in consultation with stakeholders, including the Radio Advisory Board of Canada. Technical requirements will be identified in an applicable Standard Radio System Plan and modifications will be made to Radio Standards Specifications RSS-170, Mobile Earth Stations and Ancillary Terrestrial Component Equipment Operating in the Mobile-Satellite Service Bands.”

TerreStar Solution's President Andre Trembley commented on the decision. “I congratulate Prime Minister Harper and Industry Minister James Moore for this decision which supports wireless services in rural and remote communities and spurs wireless competition in Canada, thereby lowering wireless prices for Canadians and producing new jobs in this high technology industry. Spectrum is the fuel that drives new technological developments, higher speed mobile services and lower prices for consumers. By modifying existing policies to make this spectrum useable in Canada the Harper government will contribute to lower prices and will allow companies to provide better services for consumers, regardless of whether they are in highly populated cities or more rural and underserved communities. This policy by the Harper government is the critical ingredient needed to attract new capital to Canada's wireless market and for making a fourth competitor in every region a reality.”

Broadcasters will remember that the 2000-2020 MHz portion of this 2 GHz used to be allocated to the broadcast auxiliary service, where it was primarily used for electronic newsgathering.