5GHz Regulations in Canada (2018 Update)

This article presents the regulations around the use of the unlicensed 5GHz frequencies for Wi-Fi communications in Canada. It provides an update and consolidation of our previous articles and includes the changes made by ISED (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) in 2017. We are also talking about the future outlook presented by ISED earlier this year.

SUMMARY

Here are the details about the channels available in the 5GHz spectrum space in Canada :

Canadian Weather Radar operates in the 5600-5650 MHz band (Channel 120, 124 and 128). ISED recommends that no equipment operates in this band, or interference to weather radar will result. In practical, no Wi-Fi operations are permitted on these channels.

The following chart shows the available 5GHz channels to be used in Canada:

CHANGES OF REGULATIONS FOR UNII1

In May 2017, ISED published a document announcing new regulations for the UNII1 band in Canada. Previously, this band was reserved for indoor use and the maximum EIRP was set to 200 mW. The new regulations now allow the use of these frequencies to be used both indoor and outdoor with a higher power. However, a license is required if you want to use UNII1 outdoor with an EIRP greater than 200 mW. The license is valid for 1 year and is free (for now).

​The new requirements to meet are presented in this table:
Source: ISED
If the equipment you are planning to use is located within 25km for a licensed earth station, you will have to coordinate the earth station operator to determine potential exclusion zones.
Users operating for personal use should not be eligible for that license. The reason is that it would involve too much administration and monitoring work.

DFS IMPLEMENTATION (UNII2 & UNII2-EXTENDED)

DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) is a mechanism that allows wireless LANs to coexist with radar systems. It automatically selects a frequency that does not interfere with the radar systems. In Canada, any Wi-Fi devices operating on the channels 52-64, 100-116 and 132-140  have to employ a DFS radar detection mechanism. The use of DFS while implementing a Wi-Fi network is the choice of the Engineer. It allows you to use more channels for sure, however, the frequency change might bring some instability in the network. Moreover, the client devices are not always certified for DFS band operation which is the case for many portable devices. Therefore, many engineers prefer implementing their network without the use of these “DFS” channels.

If you want to learn more about DFS, feel free to take a look at the DFS Operations Infographic we have created:

TPC IMPLEMENTATION (UNII2 & UNII2-EXTENDED)

Transmitter Power Control or TPC is a feature that enables a Wi-Fi device to dynamically switch between several transmission power levels in the transmission process. This is mainly used to reduce interference if another device is transmitting on the same frequency.
For Wi-Fi devices operating the UNII2 and UNII2-Extended, Industry Canada states that “devices with a maximum e.i.r.p. greater than 500mW shall implement TPC in order to have the capability to operate at least 6dB below the maximum permitted e.i.r.p. of 1W“. This information can be important to keep in mind while designing a WLAN.

HIGHER EIRP ALLOWED FOR POINT-TO-POINT DEVICES (UNII3)

Concerning the UNII3 & ISM bands (5725-5850MHz), the conducted output power shall not exceed 1W. If directional antennas are used with a gain greater than 6dBi, the maximum conducted output power shall be reduced by the amount in dB that the directional gain of the antenna exceeds 6dBi. So basically the maximum e.i.r.p. will never exceed 4W and if the gain of the antenna is greater than 6dBi, the output power will be adjusted accordingly.
However, the standards stats that “fixed point-to-point devices operating in this band may employ transmitting antennas with directional gain greater than 6dBi without any corresponding reduction in transmitter conducted power“.

Here is an example to explain this regulation:

So, on the left part of the drawing, we are using an antenna gain of 9dBi; which is 3dBi greater than 6dBi. If we were to use the maximum conducted power possible (i.e. 1W), the total e.i.r.p. would be: 30dBm (1W) + 9dBi = 39dBm (8W). 8W is over the maximum allowed (4W). So in order to stay under the regulations, we need to lower the conducted power by the number of the antenna gain dB greater than 6 (in our case 9-6 = 3dB). So the new conducted power would be: 30dBm (1W) – 3dB = 27dBm (500mW).
If we use a conducted power of 500mW we will have the following e.i.r.p.: 27dBm (500mW) + 9dBi = 36dBm (4W). This complies with the regulations!

On the right part of the drawing, we are setting up a point-to-point bridge link with an antenna gain of 13dBi; which is also greater than 6dBi. Even though the e.i.r.p. exceed 4W, we are still allowed to use a maximum conducted power of 1W.

SPECTRUM OUTLOOK 2018 TO 2022

ISED received comments proposing that some portions of the band become available for license-exempt devices (eg. Wi-Fi). However, they did not propose any specific changes to this band in 2018 pending potential outcomes of the WRC-19 (World Radio Conference).  There will most likely be some changes in the next few years. Since ISED is involved in the WRC-19 conference that will be taking place in Oct/Nov 2019, we could be expecting some changes as early as late 2019. Here are the potential changes:

  • Use of the 5600-5650 MHz Band for license-exempt use. Channel 120, 124, 128
  • Use of the 5350-5470 MHz Band for license-exempt use. Channel 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92, 96
  • Use of the 5850-5925 MHz Band for license-exempt use. Channel 169, 173, 171. This is unlikely as ISED prefers to reserve this band for connected vehicle applications. They will only allow Wi-Fi to share this band if they know for sure that it won’t be disruptive.

RESOURCES

I hope this information will be useful for some of you.

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