Canada unveils 5-year plan for 5G spectrum

11 June 2018 | Natalie Bannerman


Canada’s ministry of innovation, science and economic development (ISED) has published its spectrum plans for the next five years.

The report highlights licensing and auction activities in preparation for upcoming 5G services and the growing demand for services in general.

The ISED has stated previously that it will hold its spectrum auction for 600MHz band in 2019. Bidding is due to begin in March and potential bidders have until December of this year to submit their applications.

As for 3500 and 3800Mhz range, an auction for that could take place in late 2020. While bands above 20GHz, a release of some of those frequencies could take place in late 2021.

After carrying out a number of consultations the Ministry has identified four keys areas that requires more spectrum, they are: commercial mobile services, license-exempt applications, satellite services and mobile back-haul services. The ISED also said that it wanted to ensure that benefits of spectrum released reach both rural and urban communities, including making sure that region carriers have access to the spectrum.

The ministry will also review its rules that relate to antenna sitting and tower sharing as it relates to 5G services, adding that it will likely use a mixed approach for licenses for new 5G applications and services.

The ISED has created Priority Groups for spectrum bands. Bands in priority 1 are scheduled for release in 2018-2022. Priority 2 bands, policy work and technical standards work will start during the five year period. Priority band 3 will only be monitored during the five year period, largely due to the uncertainty around international developments and potential equipment available, so work will not continue in these bands until more has been clarified.

As for specific bands, the Ministry says it plan on making additional spectrum available below 1GHz, between 1-10 GHz and above 10GHz.

Aside from 600MHz which we know will have an auction in March 2019 (priority 1), the rest are as follows:

  • 800MHz, the ISED is considering a release in 2018-2022 (priority 2).
  • 900MHz, no review is expected before 2022 (priority 3).
  • L-band, this band still needs to be observed (priority 2).
  • 1500-1600 MHZ ATC (ancillary terrestrial component) bands, the ISED will review it in late 2019 with the hopes to release them as soon as possible (priority 1).
  • AWS-2 and AWS-3 upaired, these require further clarification (priority 3).
  • 3500 (3450-3650) and 3800 (3650-4200) MHz, a release for flexible use in late 2020 (priority 1).
  • 5 GHz, ISED said it will wait until the next ITU World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-19) before it makes any changes here, therefore it is priority 3
  • 6 GHZ, ISED said it will review the priority 3 status of the band depending on developments in the US and elsewhere.