Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) for Canada, has announced initiatives aimed at improving quality, coverage and price of telecoms services for all Canadians, including a five-year 5G wireless spectrum release programme. The ‘Spectrum Outlook 2018 to 2022’ (see weblink below for full details) encompasses the following bands, among others:
• 600MHz (614MHz-698MHz); as previously announced, an auction of 70MHz of spectrum in the 600MHz band mobile, fixed or broadcasting services is scheduled for March 2019, with 43% of these frequencies set aside for regional competitors (i.e. existing cellcos other than the nationwide ‘big three’ Bell, Rogers and Telus) and potential new market entrants
• 3500MHz/3800MHz (3450MHz-3650MHz/3650MHz-4200MHz); identified by ISED as a key priority for 5G, an auction of 3500MHz licences for mobile and/or fixed services is anticipated in late 2020; ISED considers the 3800MHz band as medium priority, and has begun a preliminary review of this band
• bands above 20GHz (e.g. 24GHz/28GHz mmWave); in late 2021 ISED expects to release the 28GHz (27.5GHz-28.35GHz) and 37GHz-40GHz bands for ‘flexible fixed and mobile use’ alongside the 64GHz-71GHz band for licence-exempt use, having identified these ranges as a key priority for supporting 5G deployments; other bands above 20GHz remain under consideration for potential release
• L-band (1427MHz-1518MHz); ISED’s recent consultation indicated that portions of this band could be released for fixed/mobile use; Bell and Rogers proposed that it should be high priority and Bell suggested that ISED should release it in 2020
• 800MHz; parts of this band are up for review regarding potential mobile services in the next five years.
In his keynote address to the 2018 Canadian Telecom Summit, Minister Bains announced other measures, including:
• the launch of Connecting Families, an initiative to provide hundreds of thousands of Canadians with low-cost internet in partnership with Bell, Cogeco, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw, Telus and Videotron, plus up to 50,000 computers to eligible households through the federal government’s existing Computers for Schools programme; Connecting Families services will provide 10Mbps-plus download speeds (or the fastest available if less than 10Mbps in the region) and no less than 100GB of monthly data usage at a discounted rate; no equipment or installation fees will be applied
• a CAD100 million (USD77 million) 2018 budget for improving coverage and connectivity in rural areas with low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites.