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FCC & Industry Canada To Work To “Harmonize” 600MHz Spectrum

August 18, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

Good news from Industry Canada and the FCC – after intense negotiations the two government agencies have agreed in a Statement of Intent (SOI) to work together to harmonize our 600MHz Band of TV and wireless spectrum in both Canada and the United States.  On the FCC’s official blog, Gary Epstein and Mindel DelaTorre reported as part of the decision, Industry Canada will adopt the same 600MHz Band Plan that the FCC adopted last year.  This will allow the two countries to jointly repack TV stations on the same timetable and will add significant benefits by making more broadband spectrum available to both countries.

The SOI will especially help reduce potential interference for wireless operations in the border areas.  The blog adds that this “means more “clean” spectrum to meet the growing consumer demand for mobile broadband in both countries.  By giving incentive auction participants the confidence that border markets will face less potential interference from Canadian broadcast stations, the SOI will promote more competitive bidding for licenses along the border and in turn encourage more U.S. broadcasters to participate in the auction.”

The document’s intent is that Canada and the US will work concurrently to repurpose existing TV spectrum into spectrum that can be used for wireless mobile phones.  Industry Canada will auction the country’s 600MHz band – normally reserved for TV stations – to mobile carriers such as Rogers, Bell, Telus and WIND Mobile.  The decision will benefit both countries, as Canadian carriers should spend less money on wireless infrastructure and in North America, device manufacturers should have an easier time developing devices.

The SOI lists the many benefits achieved by this agreement, but what is most paramount appears to be that by harmonizing spectrum allocations, both countries will be able to provide as much usable spectrum as possible.  Historically, both countries have jointly planned over-the-air television broadcasting for the same reason, so it makes sense that the repurposing of broadband spectrum for mobile use be jointly coordinated as well.  It is great that both countries are working together and both will benefit from the collaboration of efforts.  As both countries rely more and more on wireless mobile, the airwaves are becoming a precious commodity.