Computers help keep border airwaves clear

by Liz Edwards and Sue Vaughn


Automation is helping to keep airwaves clear for services and businesses near the Canada­U.S. border.


The Department's Canada/U.S. Frequency Co-ordination Group is increasing its use of computers to ensure frequency co-ordination requests are processed more efficiently, says Pierre Gaudreau, Head, Canada/U.S. Co-ordination Group.


The group, in conjunction with U.S. agencies, is responsible for the co-ordination of frequencies used by businesses near the border so they don't interfere with existing Canadian or American users. These activities are governed by a 1962 treaty which has been updated to include specific frequency bands and services. The co-ordination zone extends about 120 km on either side of the border.


If a user requires a frequency near the border, the Department must co-ordinate the request with the U.S. before a licence can be issued. "When the technical data on the applications is received from the district office, it must be checked against our co-ordination records, reformatted according to which U.S. agency it is to be sent to, and finally transmitted to that agency," says Gaudreau.


Once the new automation tools are available, the technical data will be entered at the district office, forwarded to the Canada­U.S. Co-ordination Group for review, and then automatically reformatted and transmitted to the U.S. Previously, the work was done manually using word processors or telex machines.


Automating the processing of U.S. requests is almost complete. This aspect is crucial as errors could result in interference to Canadian operations.


Gaudreau says automation should speed up the process and help employees cope with the current overload of requests. Currently, the group handles 11,000 U.S. requests a year and 7,000 Canadian requests.


The Department's goal is to minimize the amount of time it takes to process radio licence applications. "Delays directly affect the service of our clients - the Canadian public," says Gaudreau. Although the objective is to evaluate a proposal within 30 days, some American agencies have been known to take up to 55 days.


Historical data about previous co-ordination proposals are also being entered into a computer database to help employees in their analysis. Such data have proved valuable in negotiating spectrum-sharing arrangements with the U.S.A. Although information is being recorded in response to specific requests, only a small percentage of the 300,000 records have been entered so far.


Gaudreau stresses that the success of an operation, whether manual or computerized, depends on the staff. "We have a good team recognized not only by our management, but also by the U.S. agencies we deal with."


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