Industry Canada

Industry Canada

December 18, 2014 16:06 ET

Unprecedented Amount of Mobile Spectrum to Be Released to Canadians in 2015

Harper Government announces new measures that will provide Canadians with more choice, lower prices and better service

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 18, 2014) - Industry Canada

Industry Minister James Moore today announced new measures that will make more spectrum available to Canadians than ever before.

By May 2015, the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have grown by almost 60 percent since early 2014. This is the largest amount of spectrum ever released in such a short time in Canada, allowing Canadians and their families to benefit from the latest technologies and world-class services.

Canadian consumers rely on their smartphones and tablets to connect to people and information instantly. These hand-held devices depend on spectrum-an invisible infrastructure on which wireless information travels-to communicate wirelessly. Today's announcement brings Canada to the forefront of spectrum availability, ensuring Canadian consumers have access to world-class wireless networks.

To deliver on this achievement, the following new measures were announced today:

  • The AWS-3 spectrum auction will begin on March 3, 2015, to enable the delivery of fast, reliable service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to encourage sustained competition.

  • The Government will be seeking views on making a new band of spectrum, 600 MHz, available for mobile use.

  • A path will be provided for mobile use in the 3500 MHz spectrum band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless Internet services in rural areas.

  • A plan will be developed to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum band so that a new competitor can offer more choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas.

  • An additional 2100 MHz of spectrum will be made available to support the infrastructure wireless companies need to deliver the services that Canadians want.

  • A more efficient and consistent process for new licences in the 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands will be established.

Once this new spectrum is licensed, its licence holders will be subject to Canada's strict conditions of licence that make it clear that any companies which do not use this spectrum will lose it.

Quick facts

- The Government's actions on spectrum and other telecommunications issues have had a positive effect: there is more competition today, and wireless prices have fallen on average 22 percent since 2008.

- In 2006, 98 percent of mobile spectrum was concentrated in the hands of Canada's largest wireless companies. By May 2015, new competitors will have an opportunity to hold over 25 percent of total mobile wireless spectrum.

- In April 2014, the Government launched Digital Canada 150, a bold vision to make Canada a leading digital nation by 2017, which includes actions to ensure robust digital infrastructure, both wired and wireless.

Quotes

"Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies."

- James Moore, Minister of Industry

"Xplornet is pleased that the Minister has today affirmed his continued commitment to consumers by acknowledging that the 3500 MHz spectrum plays a fundamental role in connecting rural Canadians to all the advantages of the digital world. This decision ensures that the 3500 MHz spectrum continues to be available to provide fast and affordable Internet service to Canadians."

- Allison Lenehan, President, Xplornet Communications Inc.

Related product

- Backgrounder

Associated links

- AWS-3 auction decision

- 600 MHz consultation

- 3500 MHz decision

- AWS-4 decision

- Backhaul spectrum decision

- 24/28/38 GHz decision

- Canada's Wireless Policy: More choice. Lower prices. Better service.

Follow us on Twitter: @industrycanada

Backgrounder

Industry Canada Releases Unprecedented Amount of Mobile Spectrum

The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitments to provide Canadians with more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada's wireless sector.

Within the next five years, it's estimated that more than half the information on the Internet will at some point travel over a wireless connection. Wireless services require spectrum, which is the invisible infrastructure that carries our wireless information. Spectrum has been called the oxygen of our mobile economy.

To ensure Canadians continue to get the most from Canada's wireless sector, the Government of Canada today announced new measures that will make more mobile spectrum available to Canadians than ever before. Spectrum is vital to ensure a healthy, competitive and innovative wireless sector.

OUR TRACK RECORD

The Government's actions on spectrum and other telecommunications issues have had a positive effect: there is more competition today, and wireless prices have fallen on average 22 percent since 2008.

In 2006, 98 percent of mobile spectrum was concentrated in the hands of Canada's largest wireless companies. By May 2015, new competitors will have an opportunity to hold more than 25 percent of Canada's total mobile spectrum.

In April 2014, the Government launched Digital Canada 150, a bold vision to make Canada a leading digital nation by 2017, which includes actions to ensure robust wired and wireless digital infrastructure.

In early 2014 we held the 700 MHz auction to provide Canadians with more choice and better service. It generated the most revenue of any wireless auction in Canada.

Also within the past year, we announced that the 2500 MHz auction will take place in April 2015 to deliver more spectrum for next-generation services on the latest devices as well as to enhance wireless Internet services for Canadians living in rural areas.

Finally, we made it clear that a "use it or lose it" policy on spectrum licences would be strictly followed, ensuring wireless companies use their spectrum licences to benefit Canadians.

NEW MEASURES

Today, the Government of Canada announced new actions that build on these successes and foster more choice, lower prices and better service.

AWS-3 auction

Industry Canada will hold an auction of AWS-3 spectrum beginning on March 3, 2015, to enable better service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to support competition in the wireless industry. The AWS-3 spectrum band will be used to deliver next-generation commercial mobile services, including those using Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology. The proximity to the AWS band auctioned in 2008 will mean quicker network rollout and availability of consumer phones.

To support more competition and choice in the wireless marketplace, 60 percent of this spectrum will be set aside for operating new entrants across the country. The remaining 40 percent will be open to all qualified bidders.

600 MHz consultation

We are launching a consultation on making the 600 MHz spectrum band available for commercial mobile use while enabling our over-the-air broadcasters to remain on the air. This spectrum carries signals well over long distances, goes through structures better than higher frequency bands, and is excellent for delivering commercial mobile services in both urban and rural areas.

Under the proposed plan, Canada would work with the United States to relocate over-the-air television (OTA TV) broadcasting stations, freeing up additional spectrum for mobile services. Should Canada proceed, this joint initiative will allow existing Canadian OTA TV operators to continue broadcasting while maximizing the availability of commercial mobile spectrum. This consultation is the first step in a multi-year process, focused on the technical aspects of the proposed repurposing of spectrum in the 600 MHz band.

3500 MHz decision

We are providing a path for mobile use in the 3500 MHz band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless Internet services. Existing licences for this spectrum started expiring in March 2014, and they are subject to the "use it or lose it" policy announced by Industry Minister James Moore in November 2013. Since that time, many licensees have taken action to make use of their spectrum, providing consumers with access to additional fixed-wireless Internet services.

For those licences that are being returned, a new licensing approach for this spectrum will be put into place. This approach will maintain existing fixed-wireless Internet services as well as ensure more effective service.

AWS-4 decision

With our AWS-4 decision, we are enabling a new competitor that will operate a satellite and a land-based network to offer wireless services to Canadians, particularly in rural and remote areas, creating more choice for consumers.

As is the case with all devices using commercial mobile spectrum bands in Canada, consumer device availability for AWS-4 is driven by the U.S. market. Therefore, Industry Canada has generally aligned the Canadian AWS-4 framework with the U.S., maximizing the potential for this spectrum to support expanded mobile broadband coverage across Canada. The decision includes stringent deployment conditions applicable to both the satellite and terrestrial licences.

Backhaul decision

Backhaul is the term used to describe the transport of broadband traffic, whereby data is carried between the core network and the outlying areas. Many backhaul connections are fibre-based, but where fibre is not available, wireless backhaul is used.

Today's announcement increases the supply of wireless backhaul spectrum by 2100 MHz, which will support the infrastructure wireless companies need to deliver the services that Canadians want.

24, 28 and 38 GHz decision

Spectrum in the 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands is generally used for backhaul to support mobile broadband traffic and broadband access for businesses. Demand for this type of spectrum is expected to increase.

Today's announcement introduces a more efficient and consistent radio licensing process for all three bands, as well as a process for renewing auctioned spectrum in the 24 and 38 GHz bands. This approach aligns the licensing of 24, 28 and 38 GHz bands with that of other wireless backhaul bands.

As we rely more and more on wireless devices-using our smartphones as mobile wallets or wearing devices that improve and monitor our health-demand for spectrum will continue to grow.

Canadians have embraced the incredible change in communications over the past few years, learning new skills and opening up new opportunities to enrich their lives and strengthen the economy. Through the implementation of an unprecedented spectrum plan, the Government is doing its part to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to benefit and that Canada's wireless infrastructure is second to none.

Contact Information

  • Jake Enwright
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Industry
    343-291-2500

    Media Relations
    Industry Canada
    343-291-1777
    media-relations@ic.gc.ca