The State of 6GHz in Canada
Update – May 2020
In may 2020, the FCC officially announced that the 6GHz frequency space will be available for unlicensed use in the US. We have contacted ISED in order to know what was the status for Canada. Here is what they told us:
The is no project to free up the 6GHz frequency band for unlicensed use in Canada for now. However, this might evolve following the decision taken by the FCC in the US. When ISED decides to start studying this option, it will launch a public consultation. This will allow any Canadian businesses to provide their input in the matter.
In order to follow the ISED publications, you can take a look at this website (you can filter on “consultation”): https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf10780.html
I will probably follow up with another update when the public consultation becomes available.
This will only be the very first step of the process, so don’t expect to use Wi-Fi on 6GHz anytime soon in Canada.
The FCC and the EU has been talking about releasing more spectrum for unlicensed use in the 6GHz frequency band (5925 MHz to 7125 MHz). The focus was specifically to release more spectrum that could be used by technologies such as Wi-Fi, LTE-U and LTE-AAA.
This would give access to an impressive number of additional Wi-Fi channels:
- In the US:
- 59x 20MHz channels
- 29x 40MHz channels
- 14x 80MHz channels
- 7x 160MHz channels
- In the EU:
- 24x 20MHz channels
- 12x 40MHz channels
- 6x 80MHz channels
- 3x 160MHz channels
As a Wi-Fi Engineer and seeing channel related problems every day, I get very excited knowing that more channels could become available. It could solve a lot of our issues and improve the overall performances of our Wi-Fi networks.
However, in Canada, the ISED does not have current plans of opening up the 6GHz band for licence-exempt use.
Current Use of the 6GHz Band in Canada
Currently, here is how the 6GHz band is used in Canada:
- 5925-6425 MHz: Two-way Backhaul. Uplink communication for FSS (Fixed Satellite Service) (delivery of broadband services + distribute TV programming)
- 6425-7125 MHz: two-way Backhaul + TV auxiliary services and studio transmitter links.
Also, the ISED mentioned that they were « not aware of commercially available equipment that would operate in a licence-exempt fashion in the 6GHz band ». This state might change has these bands might be embraced in the US and in Europe. More and more manufacturers might be interested in producing devices able to operate in the 6GHz band in the near future for these markets.
The Near Future (2018-2022)
n the near future, it does not look like the ISED will be releasing more spectrum in the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi use. The technologies using this band are not going anywhere and are still heavily using the band. Therefore, ISED has classified it as a priority 3 during their Outlook Consultation, earlier this year. This means that nothing much is going to happen in the next few year (between 2018 and 2022).
Here is the spectrum outlook priorities set by ISED for the next 5 years (2018 to 2022). As you can see 6GHz has been assigned a priority of 3:
They did mentioned, in their Spectrum Outlook 2018 to 2022 document, that they will keep monitoring what is happening in the US and in the rest of the world to see if they could work on a solution where the current technologies using the 6GHz band would co-exist with new services (aka. Wi-Fi). This will probably require some coexistence mechanism to be put in place (The Wi-Fi industry is proposing a mechanism called Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) that could be used in Canada as well).
If we look at the FCC timeline, it looks like they will be starting permitting Wi-Fi operations on the 6GHz band by 2021. So, it’s hard to say what will be happening past 2022 but I would think that, at that time, they would have a plan to release some spectrum in the 6GHz band.
In parallel, the IEEE could potentially decide to only allow certain amendment to be used on the 6GHz bands which would strongly push ISED to release these frequencies for Wi-Fi use. It is already being said that the 802.11ax wave 2 devices will be able to operate on the 6GHz band.
- ISED Spectrum Outlook 2018 to 2022:
- Wi-Fi Trek Présentation from Chuck Lukaszewski « Opening the 6GHz band for unlicensed operations » :
- FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking « UnLicensed Use of the 6 GHz Band »
- EU Radio Spectrum Committee Working Document « Commission paper on a draft Mandate to CEPT on RLAN in the 6 GHz band (5925-6725 MHz) »
Written by François Vergès