ISED launches consultation on allocating wireless spectrum over next five years

minister navdeep bains

The federal government is seeking feedback on how it can best use wireless spectrum to reduce the steep cell phone bills faced by Canadians over the next five years.

Navdeep Bains, the minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) has launched a consultation on potential spectrum releases between 2018 and 2022.

“Canadians said that they find the cost of cell phone services too high, and our government is listening,” said Minister Bains in a statement to the press.

“We’ve launched a public consultation that will help us come up with a plan that puts Canadians first while also supporting competition, investment and innovation in Canada’s telecommunications sector so that Canadians continue to benefit from next-generation technologies and that Canada remains at the forefront of innovation.”

Specifically, ISED says it wants Canadian businesses, organizations and individuals to weigh in on the overall approach and planning activities related to the release of spectrum for commercial mobile services, licence-exempt applications, wireless backhaul services and satellite services.

“Canadians said that they find the cost of cell phone services too high, and our government is listening.”

Using the results of this consultation, ISED will put together a decision dubbed the ‘Spectrum Outlook,’ with the aim of providing a roadmap for the ministry’s approach to ensuring that appropriate spectrum resources are available to meet future demand.

The previous Spectrum Outlook, published in March 2013,  set out a plan to allocate up to 750MHz of spectrum specifically to commercial mobile services by the end of 2017. As of now, ISED has made 648MHz of spectrum available for commercial mobile services. The ministry says the shortfall is due mostly to delays in international developments in the 600MHz and 3500MHz bands.

The ministry notes that in developing policy and licensing frameworks for new spectrum, it seeks to “maximize the economic and social benefits that Canadians derive from the use of the radio frequency spectrum resource” — a sentiment echoed in its 600MHz consultation announcement.

“ISED recognizes the importance of relying on market forces in spectrum management, to the maximum extent feasible,” says the consultation announcement. “However, there will also be a need to make spectrum available for a range of services that are in the public interest, but may not be driven by market forces.”

Questions posed in the consultation focus on changes to the existing licensing regime and the frequency bands being considered for release, among other things.

ISED says interested parties must submit their comments no later than January 9th, 2018. For further details on the consultation and how to submit comments, check out the full announcement here.

Source: ISED

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Author: Rose Behar