Industry Minister Announces AWS-4 Spectrum Consultation

by Istvan Fekete on May 23, 2014

Industry Minister James Moore announced recently that the federal government plans to hold consultations on AWS-4 spectrum, as the rollout of wireless coverage using this spectrum will contribute to better coverage in virtually all rural and remote areas of Canada. The coverage will also benefit commercial users who work in isolated areas.

AWS-4 spectrum works in the 2 GHz band and is currently licensed to provide mobile services using both satellites and terrestrial towers to deliver signals to mobile users. One satellite has already been launched for this band and provides unique rural coverage capabilities for both voice and data services to smartphones.

The consultation aims to provide guidance on the best approach to updating the licensing framework for AWS-4 services, which, when deployed, will foster competition among wireless players and benefit all Canadians by adding more choice, Industry Minister James Moore believes.

“Spectrum is a critical public resource, and it is our job as a government to ensure it is allocated in a way that encourages robust competition and choice in our wireless market. Canadian consumers have been clear that they want more choice, lower prices and better service. This consultation will allow Canadians to have a say on how to improve mobile services in rural and remote communities.”

The announcement highlights a couple quick facts:
– AWS-4 spectrum can support mobile services using both satellite- and terrestrial-based networks across the country.
– The Government is consulting on proposed changes that would allow licensees to launch new services and create new competition in the Canadian wireless market.
– The proposed licensing framework for this spectrum will generally align with that of the United States, will create access to affordable equipment and will enable this spectrum to be put to use for the benefit of wireless consumers.

Due to the majority of the Canadian population being located in the southern region of the country and the very low population density outside main population zones, terrestrial networks currently provide service to 99% of the population, but to only 20% the geographic area. This leaves approximately 1% of the population and 80% of the territory with little or no option for mobile communication services. MSS (Mobile Satellite Service) is currently used to provide voice and low data rate applications, mainly in Northern regions. Satellite systems allow for a large coverage surface and require little ground installation, which is well suited for remote areas. For these reasons, the use of MSS has the potential to make mobile services accessible to 100% of the Canadian population, the consultation document reads.

The licensing framework for the aforementioned spectrum will “generally align with that of the United States”, he said, which means it will provide access to affordable equipment and enable this spectrum to be put to use for the benefit of wireless subscribers.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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