A CRTC review looking into whether to license low-power community television stations has triggered a flurry of opposition from several industry groups, including the wireless sector. The Bell Wireless Alliance (BWA) and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association say the proposal would see Canada’s broadcast regulator – rather than Industry Canada – assigning scarce spectrum for broadcasting at a time when wireless carriers are hampered by a critical shortage of suitable spectrum for mobile services. It’s a compelling argument and one which could pit the CRTC’s mandate to ensure outlets for local expression with the department as the country’s primary spectrum manager.On Oct. 30, interested parties filed their responses to PN 2000-127. Below is an edited excerpt from comments filed by Don Woodford, Bell Mobility’s director of government & regulatory Affairs, on behalf of the BWA. The commission is considering, among other things, allocating spectrum for low-power community television stations in urban areas. However, in Canada, it is within the mandate of Industry Canada to manage spectrum allocations and associated technologies as well as to negotiate and maintain those international agreements relating to specific band allocations. The commission’s process bypasses Industry Canada’s long-standing public consultation mechanisms. The BWA notes that addressing spectrum allocation matters in a CRTC forum could inadvertently result in the imposition of a further layer of regulation for wireless carriers. Such an occurrence would, in and of itself, be cause of considerable concern to the BWA. Despite their forborne regulatory status, the BWA notes that Canadian wireless carriers are in effect subject to dual regulatory oversight by both the commission and Industry Canada. The value-added component of wireless service to customers, indeed some would say the very essence of wireless service, is its inherent mobility. In this regard, international spectrum coordination and alignment is critical to enable wireless customers to roam internationally on an unfettered basis. It is the BWA’s understanding that the Federal Communications Commission has already allocated portions of the spectrum band under consideration in PN 2000-127, to mobile wireless applications in that country. It is imperative, therefore, that Canada’s mobile spectrum allocations are aligned with those of other international jurisdictions and, most particularly, with those of the U.S. Without harmonization, benefits such as increased access to existing and enhanced services, reduced consumer costs, lower equipment and service costs, and competitive opportunities for Canadian service providers and manufacturers will not be fully realized, or indeed, may unintentionally be foreclosed. The terrestrial wireless industry is urgently in need of additional mobile wireless spectrum. In this regard, the BWA notes that the transmission media available to carry video and broadcasting signals to fixed users are numerous and varied. They include cable, MCS above 2 GHz and satellite technologies. Given the limited analog and digital over-the-air spectrum available in major urban areas, the allocation of spectrum to low-power community television would not represent the optimal use of this scarce public resource. The BWA notes the critical shortage of spectrum suitable and available for mobile wireless applications in urban areas. Conversely, the options available for the transmission of broadcast signals are many and varied. Finally the BWA respectfully encourages the commission to defer to Industry Canada with respect to specific spectrum allocation decisions. Among other things this will ensure that Canada’s mobile spectrum is harmonized with that of the U.S. This approach will maintain and enhance the competitiveness of Canada’s wireless industry, ensure the harmonization of spectrum allocations internationally and refrain from increasing the level of uncertainty in the regulatory environment to the detriment of the industry as a whole.