Industry Canada has opened up more licence-exempt spectrum in the 5 GHz band – a development that has at least one wireless Internet service provider optimistic that it will now be able to serve customers more effectively. Principals from Rainy Day Software Corp. say the government’s decision is a welcome step in the right direction. The additional bandwidth should allow the company to experience less interference and congestion from other operators.  "We’re happy to have more spectrum to work with. We’ve been crowded in the band and we’ve made comments before about that so we’re quite happy to have some more spectrum available to us," Brent Toderash tells Report on Wireless.  He is referring to comments Rainy Day Software made in response to Industry Canada’s Gazette Notice DGTP-002-04 seeking comment on the licensing of mobile services in portions of the 700 MHz (RoW, Feb. 23/05). "As increased use of wireless technologies reach the consumer level, there is less incentive for the end users to coordinate efforts voluntarily, leaving professional operators further ‘squeezed’ in the available bands. At the same time, wireless manufacturers are now creating equipment designed to deal with the higher RF noise floor we are seeing in most areas. In essence, this amounts in some instances to little more than ‘shouting louder’ than competing signals, which further perpetuates the problem," reads the company’s January 14 submission to the department.  Rainy Day Software isn’t the only wireless ISP starving for access to more spectrum. Available channels in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are quickly disappearing as operators deploy inexpensive equipment in the free spectrum bands. One wireless ISP recently told Report on Wireless that the company had to begin implementing 5 GHz equipment a year earlier than previously predicted. This, it said, was due to the increasing use of 2.4 GHz licence-exempt equipment for last mile access to businesses and homes.  Despite two auctions of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequency ranges, there is still a lack of spectrum in the market for smaller operators. Equipment for these two bands won’t likely be ready for deployment for at least another year if not more.  While satisfied that more spectrum will become available, Rainy Day Software is, however, concerned that the decision didn’t specifically deal with fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint applications, an omission that could dampen the utility of this spectrum. Erik Jansson, another principal at the company, explains that the decision dealt with power levels for a mobile allocation and that they are insufficient for fixed network configurations. "We don’t know how beneficial yet (this spectrum) is going to be to us because the power limits they’ve indicated for mobile applications is very, very low, and would be basically useless for pretty much all but urban usage. If they have similar power restrictions to the 5.8 GHz band as it stands now, then certainly that will be a huge, huge benefit to us," he tells RoW.  The company is prepared, though, if this spectrum is suitable for fixed wireless applications, both in point-to-point and point-to-multipoint network configurations. Toderash notes that the company has been keeping a close eye on activities south of the border and has purchased equipment that can operate in the newly allocated band. The Federal Communications Commission has already allocated these particular slices of the 5 GHz band on a licence-exempt basis.  "We do have some equipment out there that will work in this band. Notably, there’s one area south of Winnipeg, it’s rural, but it’s very congested in both the 5.8 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands. So, we’re looking at this, saying if we can get out of the 5.8 GHz space that we’re in right now and into something that’s not congested (that would be great)," Toderash explains.  In its decision released late last week, the department allocated an additional 255 MHz of spectrum for licence-exempt wireless local area networks (LE-LANs) in the 5470-5725 MHz frequency range. When added to the existing spectrum 5150-5350 MHz and 5725-5825 MHz, licence-free spectrum in the 5 GHz range is now at 555 MHz.  The ruling comes about a year after the department issued DGTP-005-04 seeking comment on proposed changes to the 5 GHz band and the allocation of additional spectrum for fixed and mobile services. During the public consultation, fixed wireless industry stakeholders squared off against the mobile satellite service players on whether the expanded use of 5 GHz equipment in outdoors would cause too much interference to MSS users (RoW, June 30/04).  Satellite interests, including the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), were concerned that allowing the outdoor use of equipment operating in the 5250-5350 MHz frequency range would cause too much interference to the RADARSAT imaging satellite. The CSA wanted Industry Canada to mandate indoor use only for equipment operating in this band.  The department disagreed, opting instead to follow decisions made at the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03). "The department is of the view that the decisions made at WRC-03 represent a well-balanced compromise among the competing spectrum needs. Of particular importance to Canada is the provision to allow the use of outdoor LE-LANs. The department is of the view that the capability for LE-LANs to operate outdoors will be essential to connect rural and remote communities…With all elements of sharing considered, the department believes that the decision made at WRC-03 will protect the incumbent services appropriately while allowing LE-LANs to operate in indoor and outdoor environments," reads DGTP-003-05.  Report on Wireless will continue to follow the issue of congestion and interference operators are currently experiencing in the unlicensed bands.