Industry Canada could soon be implementing a new way to license spectrum with an official saying the department may adopt what is called "light licensing". Doug Sward, senior director of spectrum planning and engineering, told Report on Wireless that the US Federal Communications Commissions has implemented this type of approach for the 3650-3670 MHz band and Ottawa is also contemplating such a move for the same set of frequencies.During a presentation at the Strategy Institute's The Future of WiMAX in Canada conference in Toronto last week, Sward noted that in Canada spectrum is either licensed or unlicensed. But the US also uses a middle ground between the two approaches. "This is one of the areas that we're actually looking at changing over the next couple of years in terms of having more licensing initiatives in our licence tool-box," he said.Industry Canada consulted with key stakeholders on the 3650-3670 MHz band two years ago and found that many supported the US approach. Support wasn't unanimous though with some calling on the department to license this spectrum via auction and others saying making this band unlicensed will only increase interference with existing licensed services in adjacent bands."Light licensing" for this particular band puts a greater onus on the spectrum rights holder to ensure that interference among neighbouring services is minimal. In the US, a user gets a licence for the entire country, for example, and then has to register it in a database so as to facilitate coordination with adjacent services."It's somewhere between that licensed domain and the unlicensed domain. You can go very quickly to set up your stations, coordinate with your neighbours and that does mitigate the risk of interference which is probably the single most challenge today with using some of the licensed-exempt bands," Sward said during his presentation.Industry Canada expects to release a decision on this spectrum and its approach to licensing it within the next six months. Technical rules coming shortly thereafter and once those rules are written, the department will officially open the band for licensing. Key issues at WRC11Software-defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio are two key technologies that will grab a lot of spotlight at the next World Radiocommunication Conference, slated for 2011. Sward says initiatives pushing developments in these two areas will "represent a brand new generation of equipment and technology that will hit the street."Radios with this intelligence built in will enable the equipment to operate in fairly hostile environments or in situations where interference is unknown. Cognitive systems are already being built into some radio local area networks (RLANs) operating in the 5 GHz range, which can sense up to 22 different types of radar systems operating around the world. Radar uses parts of the 5 GHz band.Another key issue up for discussion at WRC11 will focus on modernizing some of the conventional radio regulations. Sward said this is important because many countries only certify equipment that meets standards detailed in the radio regulations, yet those regulations don't necessarily recognize today's new realities."Some of the definitions of mobile systems have not been touched since the Second World War, so we're finding that there's great opportunity to modernize the basis of how new regulations are written," he said. "So we're going to be looking at how to modernize a lot of the definitions that are there to include the broad range of wireless devices that are out there."The third area expected to grab headlines at WRC11 is a study of short-range, licence-exempt devices. Given the significant pressures unlicensed bands are seeing from a wide range of services, Sward acknowledged that it's time to see if changes are required."It's not just Canada that's looking at the pressures in the licence-exempt bands, it's other countries that are looking at how these bands are being used, what rules need to be changed, do we need more spectrum in licence exempt operations, et cetera," he said.