Taking a new look at personal radio

The Department of Communications is taking a look at a new class of personal radio communications proposed for the frequency band between 890 and 960 MHz. Canada now has more than 1 million licensees in its General Radio Service (GRS), also known as CB. They comprise two-thirds of all licensed users of the radio spectrum in this country, yet the 400 kHz of spectrum allocated to GRS represents less than .005 per cent of that available to all users.


The existing 27 MHz CB band is prone to interference from other stations hundreds of kilometres away. The new band would be immune to such skip' interference, would offer more than 10 times the bandwidth, and open the door to a new range of uses.


A DOC notice in the Canada Gazette, Part I, August 18 (No. DGTR-019-79), asked for comment on the general characteristics, and technical and regulatory aspects of a service near 900 MHz. The service would not only "overcome shortcomings" of the present CB band but "better respond to evolving personal communication needs" in the 1980s. Features such as computer to computer interaction, paging, or extended coverage might be added. John deMercado, director general, telecommunication regulatory service, expects the home computer to take off in popularity in the next decade the way GRS did in the mid-70s.


Linking such home computers to an expanded, improved personal radio service would enable the licensee to use all the functions of his computer while away from home. A person driving home from work could, for example, use his radio link to have the computer turn on the stove or leave a message for the family.


Problems of interference with TV reception and other home entertainment equipment, channel crowding and skip interference have plagued GRS in Canada since the boom in licensing when permits in force rocketed from 113,000 in March 1975, to 951,000 last March.


Licensing has now levelled off to a consistent seven to eight thousand new permits per month, but the need for better personal communications seems here to stay.


Submissions received so far are available for public inspection at the DOC library, 300 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario K 1 A OC8 or at DOC regional offices in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton.


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