Canada’s national police force is calling on the Canadian government to implement firm deadlines on broadcasters to vacate portions of the 746 MHz to 806 MHz band, as part of the transition from analog to digital TV (DTV).  In comments to an Industry Canada consultation on adding mobile and public safety services to the broadcast spectrum (DGTP-002-04), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) says the CRTC and the department should work together to identify dates to free up spectrum covering channels 63 and 68 in a timely manner.  Al McPhee, director of mobile communications services with the RCMP, says it goes without saying that the organization would like to move into the 700 MHz band. But the problem, he adds, is it’s unclear when broadcasters will move from this spectrum.  "Until we have some certainty, we can’t really do much planning. So right now, if you ask me on behalf of the RCMP, would we move into the 700 MHz (band)? Yes, certainly. When is the big question," he tells Report on Wireless.  McPhee stopped short, however, of identifying actual dates. He says two to five years from now would be great and four to 10 years would be good. "I don’t know what’s realistic because I don’t know how quickly they’re going to be able to move on it," he adds. "Our concern isn’t what they do with TV, it’s a need or a plea for spectrum for public safety, not just (from) the RCMP obviously. This is the first time having a dedicated block and it’s something to look forward to, but it’s a long, slow process.  If we compare what Canada is going to what the United States is doing, they’ve put firm dates in place, and I think they’re providing a lot more incentives for TV stations to move, incentives, at the very least, in terms of a deadline," he tells RoW. Even if the spectrum were available, much of it would be unusable due to the need to protect existing TV stations. Low-power TV stations operating in either channel 63 or 68 and those operating in the adjacent channels of 62, 64, 67 and 69 would need to be afforded interference protection from public safety communications systems. The use of guard bands to limit potential interference would also inhibit the usability of channels 63 and 68.  Canada’s national police force isn’t alone in calling for greater certainty in when this spectrum will become available for public safety. Motorola Canada Ltd. doesn’t identify hard dates itself, but concludes rules should in place so licensing of new wireless systems can proceed by the end of the third quarter of this year.  "…We strongly urge Industry Canada, along with the CRTC, to develop a firm timetable with specific dates for the transition of analog to digital television, and the clearing of the full 746-806 MHz band. A plan with early dates is essential to allow for unencumbered use of the 6+6 MHz by public safety and at the same time (provide) protection to over-the-air television viewers," reads Motorola Canada’s comments.  The RCMP and other public safety organizations are clamouring for access to spectrum to support their growing bandwidth requirements. Last October, Industry Canada ruled that it would allocate 12 MHz of spectrum – channels 63 and 68, or 764-770 MHz paired with 794-800 MHz – exclusively for public safety purposes (RoW, Oct. 5/04). To allow for the eventual introduction of public safety in this spectrum, the department has proposed modifications to the DTV transition plan, and moving one analog TV station.  Canada’s public broadcaster asks the department to proceed with care with regard to the introduction of public safety in channels 63 and 68 because this spectrum will be heavily used during the transition from analog to digital. In comments to Industry Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) says reallocation of these two channels to public safety will reduce spectrum for broadcasting and could possible introduce signal degradation for other channels.  The CBC admits that co-channel interference can be easily solved, but it is not so for adjacent channels. The public broadcaster says channels may suffer difficult-to-predict interference levels if proper coordination isn’t done and this is primarily due to the types of devices used in public safety communications.  "If the reallocation of channels 63 and 68 is to be done as presented in the Gazette Notice DGTP-002-04, the CBC will sustain a great impact on its operations. To allow proper signal quality and coverage, the adjacent channels must be adequately protected, both for NTSC (analog) and future DTV stations," states the CBC.  The company also indicates that base stations can cause harmful and unacceptable levels of interference to its broadcasting signals. The broadcaster contends that "overload holes" around base stations could appear, which are areas where broadcast reception has been degraded to an unacceptable level, and this could have a considerable impact in urban regions. "For this reason, the (?) CBC is requesting Industry Canada to consider a close coordination, per base station tower used, between public safety users and the broadcasters," reads the CBC’s comments.  American interests are calling on Industry Canada to initiative, as soon as possible, a consultation on the reallocation of the paired 770-776 MHz/800-806 MHz bands, the spectrum covering channels 64 and 69 to public safety operations so that Canada’s policy matches that of the United States. They are also saying the government should strive to adopt technical rules that are compatible with those instituted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Writes the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC): "Such compatibility could yield economies of scale for equipment specifically designed to meet public safety requirements that Canadian public safety users may not otherwise experience." Eads Telecom Canada Inc. notes that not only should spectrum be harmonized, but so should equipment approval processes as this would allow devices to be sold on both sides of the border without incident.  "This approach is already generally the case but care should be taken in drafting the regulations to avoid any arbitrary differences that will increase costs and delay deployment of new systems in Canada," reads the company’s comments.