Canada, U.S. OK Border Spectrum Harmonization Plan

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By Lydia Beyoud

Aug. 14 — Canada agreed to a spectrum sharing plan with the U.S. along the border in preparation for the 2016 U.S. spectrum incentive auctions, the Federal Communications Commission announced in an Aug. 14 blog post.

The agreement, through a finalized statement of intent, follows on a similar arrangement reached between Mexico and the U.S. on July 24.

The agreement marks another of the many milestones the FCC must pass in its efforts to achieve a successful auction that is expected to change both the U.S. broadcast and wireless industry landscapes in coming years.

As part of the agreement between the FCC and its counterpart, Industry Canada, the two countries will work on a framework and timeline for harmonizing the repurposing of TV spectrum for mobile broadband on both sides of the border to minimize interference.

The FCC is planning to recapture spectrum voluntarily relinquished by TV broadcasters located in the 600 megahertz band for resale to the wireless industry to help meet burgeoning consumer demand for mobile data.

Canada Repurposing 600 MHz Band

Canada has separately decided to repurpose its own 600 MHz band, with the intent to repack TV broadcasters into lower frequencies. The Canadian agency is seeking comment on the details of that process, according to an Aug. 14 decision.

“Joint repacking will produce significantly increased benefits and a better result for both countries, making more broadband spectrum available than if each country proceeded independently,” FCC International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre and Gary Epstein, chairman of the Incentive Auction Task Force, said in the blog post.

The FCC is also hoping that coordinating spectrum use along the border will encourage higher bids from wireless companies interested in purchasing “cleaner” spectrum to yield a potentially larger, coordinated North American wireless market.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

Text of the blog post is at https://www.fcc.gov/blog/international-coordination-canada-successful-incentive-auction.

Text of Industry Canada's decision is at http://tinyurl.com/nt3bnj5.