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CanWISP sees progress in Industry Canada's recent 3500 MHz statements

August 22, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alison Hermansen
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Canadian Association of Wireless Internet Service Providers, CanWISP, applauds Industry Canada on their announcement of the Consultation on Policy Changes in the 3500 MHz Band (3475-3650 MHz) and a New Licensing Process in Rural Areas.

Over the past 15 years, smaller wireless ISP’s have been using unlicensed spectrum to deliver services to Rural Canadians with amazing results. However, the continuing demand for higher speed services and content delivery is pushing unlicensed spectrum to its limit. Access to spectrum in the 3500 MHz band would allow CanWISP members to expand and extend their service offerings delivering higher speeds and additional services with larger data capacities.

Licensed spectrum has historically been available to very large telecommunications providers with deep pockets that allow them to participate in the auction process for licensed frequencies. The 3500 MHz spectrum has remained largely unused since the auction process began in 2004, despite the fact that equipment has been available during this time frame. Industry Canada’s proposal to divide the spectrum, including potentially having multiple licenses within each 25 square kilometer `grid-cell, makes for a very granular, very addressable license area for our members. Using smaller geographic licensing areas could result in added administrative overhead for providers spanning multiple areas, but smaller areas will also increase the availability of spectrum to more service providers.

The move to divide the spectrum between rural and urban use is also a move in the right direction. It will result in more affordable rural spectrum for smaller ISP’s. There are more dollars per square kilometer in Toronto or Ottawa than there are in small-town Canada. The density of people and the dollars that can be generated from urban spectrum are what drive the value of that spectrum. When the spectrum is sold off as a block across the country, the price of the spectrum doesn’t match the business model for the smaller more rural centres. There are some outstanding questions on how rural-urban boundary spectrum is handled.

CanWISP believes Wireless Internet Service Providers will be able to utilize the 3500 MHz spectrum to help the Government achieve its goal of delivering a minimum of 5Mbps to rural residents as laid out in its Economic Action Plan 2014.