Last week the US State Department officially requested that CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunications Commission) recognize the 3.3-3.4GHz band as a 5G band in the Americas.
The member states of CITEL work to unify their efforts to promote and achieve economic and social development with equity.
This request provides a great opportunity to evaluate how three of the countries in CITEL have allocated their 3.5GHz spectrum. To look at the existing and future spectrum allocations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico I will use Spektrum Metrics' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool for each country.
The first thing that we can see is that both the US and Canada have either allocated or auctioned C-band spectrum (3700-3980MHz). Canada's C-band channel plan utilizes 10MHz channels while the US plans uses 20MHz channels. Canada's C-band allocation actually incorporates the 50MHz GAA channel of the spectrum that the US uses for CBRS which will create operational issues in border areas like Vancouver BC/Bellingham WA and Windsor ON/Detroit MI. There could be issues from usage in Toronto that would affect the upper CBRS channel in northern New York state.
Canada recently auctioned 3450MHz to 3650MHz which will put fully powered licensed operations on the remaining CBRS channels including all of the PAL licenses.
Mexico has not allotted their C-band spectrum yet, but they have repurposed the 3450MHz to 3600MHz bands. Similarly I would expect border interference with the 5 CBRS channels that overlap the full power licensed channels in Mexico. Issues in San Diego, El Paso, and Brownville could be caused by this joint operation at the border.
So I have highlighted several incompatibilities between the US allocations and Canadian allocations along with incompatibilities between the Mexican allocations and US allocations so it should be clear why this State Department request is critical. The request is necessary to create the only band of spectrum utilized and licensed in a similar manner between all three countries since this spectrum has only been allocated for auction by the Mexican authorities (IFT). I believe that it is critical that this spectrum is fully licensed spectrum (not shared spectrum) so it can harmonize usage at the borders for all three countries.
United States - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
Canada - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
Mexico - 3.5GHz Band Plan:
Lightreading recently posted an article about Cogeco's entrance into the Canadian mobile market places initially as a MVNO while building their own network. To view Cogeco's we are going to present a couple of views of Cogeco's spectrum holdings from our current Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool (Canada).
In Lightreading's article, Cogeco indicated that they purchased 3.5GHz spectrum licenses covering 91% of their broadband footprint. Our licensed population analysis module provides an accounting for how much of the Canadian population can be reached with Cogeco's spectrum. Cogeco owns spectrum in 2 additional spectrum bands (WCS and BRS) providing licenses over 0.1% of Canada's population and 15.4% respectively. With their 3.5GHz spectrum, covering 91% of their broadband footprint only translates to roughly 30% of the Canadian population.
Cogeco Licensed Population by Frequency Band:
Frequency Band Ownership:
When we look at Frequency Band ownership for the 3.5GHz spectrum, Cogeco only controls 4% of the MHz-POPs in this band. Clearly Bell Canada, Rogers, and Telus have large bandwidths in each market to enable faster 5G connections.
National Weighted Average Spectrum Depth:
When we look at the National Averages for spectrum depth, Cogeco only has 12MHz of upper mid band spectrum (WCS, BRS, and 3.5GHz) which is less than 10% of what the national carriers average.
Today, Fierce Wireless had an article examining Rogers 5G roll out announcement. The article states that Rogers will initially deploy using 2.5 GHz spectrum followed by 600 MHz and 3.5 GHz. Although we are familiar with these bands from a US spectrum allocation, it is important to understand several of the differences between the Canadian allocations and the US allocations.
First, we are going to look at the 2.5 GHz band using the Spectrum Grid from our Canadian Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool. Canada's 2.5 GHz spectrum is configured to the international standard with paired (FDD) LTE Band 7 and TDD band 38/41. In each of the 4 deployment cities, Rogers controls FDD and TDD spectrum. I believe that Rogers will be deploying the TDD/Band 41 spectrum blocks due to its compatibility with Sprint's 5G deployment and the Band 41 ecosystem. Rogers has 20 MHz of spectrum available in each of their roll out markets which should deliver about 30% of the speed performance that Sprint is achieving on their 5G launches.
Second, Rogers will roll out 5G using their 600 MHz low band spectrum. This spectrum is configured identically to the US allocation with 7 x 10 MHz FDD channels in LTE Band 71. Rogers has 10 MHz channels available in all of their roll out markets except Toronto where they have a 20 MHz channel available.
Third, Rogers will roll out 5G in Canada's 3.5 GHz band. In the US, this spectrum is primarily allocated as CBRS spectrum requiring the use of a Spectrum Access System (SAS) with multiple users. The entire CBRS band is 150 MHz while the Canadian 3.5 GHz band is 200 MHz broken up into 20 - 10 MHz (TDD) channels. Canada will be licensing all of this spectrum to carriers, while the US model is shared spectrum. Since the 3.5 GHz auction has not occurred, Rogers spectrum ownership in these markets is unknown. The 3.5 GHz auction will occur sometime in 2020.