The following is a description of the CANCOORD and USCOORD systems authored by Industry Canada staff which appears in Recommendation ITU-R SM.668-1 (03/1997), Electronic exchange of information for spectrum management purposes. Following the excerpt is a short article recalling that the data exchange format used in these systems was the subject of a Distinction Award in 1994.


Mike Connolly

9 March 2018


Canada/United States frequency coordination

In Canada, demand for radio frequency spectrum has been increasing steadily since the 1980s. Faced with rising costs, increased workloads and reduced resources Canadian spectrum management staff have had to automate its activities. Automation began in the mid-70s and early 80s with the development of the Department’s Assignment and Licensing Subsystem (ALS). Using the latest technology, computerized systems have automated a significant portion of the operations that were previously carried out manually.


In conjunction with the ALS another system was developed in the 1980s. This system, known as USCOORD, has been through several versions and is used to receive, update, evaluate and respond to the USA frequency coordination proposals with the help of the ALS. The present version of USCOORD is a graphical user interface, multi-user system running over the Department’s local area network (LAN). It is used by technical and administrative staff to evaluate and process all terrestrial systems received from the United States of America, including fixed microwave and point-to-multipoint radio systems. USCOORD is used for processing an average of 12 000 United States’ proposals annually. Response times average between 20 and 30 days, consistent with the Canada/United States agreement.


Automated coordination procedures were incorporated into the ALS in 1991 to facilitate the processing of Canadian frequency coordination proposals destined for the United States of America. In conjunction with this, an automated system called CANCOORD was developed. The present version of CANCOORD is a character based multi-user system running over the LAN. It is used to receive, update and respond to Canadian frequency coordination proposals originating from district offices across Canada. CANCOORD is used for processing an average of 7 000 Canadian proposals annually. CANCOORD provides full search and reporting capabilities and has automated every aspect of the coordination process.


The automation of frequency coordination has been a cooperative effort between the Administrations of Canada and the United States of America resulting in the transition to the present systems and EDE from the paper-based processes. The objectives for the transition were to:


– establish a common file format;

– standardise data fields and nomenclature;

– automate data validation;

– improve message tracking;

– permit the use of automated data transfer.


File naming conventions, transmission methods, data structures and formats are examples of areas where agreement was reached. During the development of CANCOORD and USCOORD, Canada and the United States of America established automation strategies for the future. Refinement of systems in an environment of cooperation continues today.


This automation and the cooperation between the countries has increased the efficiency of the frequency coordination process which has improved the service to client, reduced coordination response times and the workload backlog.


Overview of the automated Canadian international frequency coordination system

The intent of this overview is to provide a more detailed explanation of the automated Canadian international frequency coordination system (CANCOORD) and its associated processes. Figures 1 and 2 provide graphical representations of the data flow within the coordination process.



Frequency coordination refers to the exchange of information between Canada and the United States of America pertaining to radio frequency assignments proposed for use by radio stations located within specific geographical areas along the Canada/United States border. These stations need to be coordinated to help prevent radio interference which may be caused to existing stations, or conversely to ensure that interference is not caused to the proposed station from an existing station in the other country. In the case of CANCOORD, it has enabled the automation of virtually all processes associated with Canadian frequency coordination proposals to the United States of America. This has resulted in considerable time and other resource savings while significantly improving service to our clients.


Within Industry Canada (a department of the Canadian Federal Government responsible for international frequency coordination) the frequency coordination process begins at the District Office level. (In Canada, spectrum licensing functions have been decentralised and are now performed at its District Offices.) Data pertinent to each station is manually entered at the district office using the On-Line Data Entry (OLDE) system. (OLDE is a standalone PC-based program used to capture all licensing data from the radio station licence application.) Each evening this information is formatted and through the use of a LAN/WAN and dedicated phone lines, is transmitted to the Department’s centralised database and placed into the ALS where all licensing information is maintained.


At the ALS a validation program called INTCOORD extracts information from those licence applications marked for coordination with the United States of America. It validates and processes the data in these applications and produces an ASCII text file and validation report. The report that is generated from INTCOORD contains the validation and processing results for each application marked for coordination. If critical information is missing, it is rejected by the ALS and an appropriate report is also sent to the originating District Office. Any errors found during validation must be corrected by the district office and resubmitted for coordination before further processing can take place.


The ASCII file generated by INTCOORD is uploaded into CANCOORD. It is further validated by CANCOORD and the data is reformatted to produce coordination proposals to be electronically transmitted to the United States of America.


When the United States of America has completed its evaluation of Canadian frequency coordination proposals they transmit an ASCII file of their replies to Industry Canada. These reply files are then processed by CANCOORD with a corresponding message being sent automatically to update the ALS database records and to inform district office staff of the coordination replies. Electronic coordination proposal and reply files are archived as a permanent record in CANCOORD. Figure 3 provides a graphical representation of the data flow within the Canadian coordination system.



The Distinction Award  ( 1994 )

An integral part of the Technology in Government Week is the Federal Awards Program.  The Program recognizes federal public servants who have excelled in the development and use of information technology in the workplace. In June of 1994 Patrick Carrey submitted a nomination to the Federal Awards Program and as a result the COMMON COORDINATION DATA FORMAT utilized by the CANCOORD system was nominated and won a Bronze medal in the category Building Partnerships. The award was presented by Treasury Board President Art Eggleton at the Federal Awards Gala on October 24 held as part of Technology in Government week. Accepting the award on behalf of the development and implementation team was Pat Carrey.


What is particularly unique with this initiative is that it is a partnership between two countries, Canada and the US and where four US agencies had to buy into this partnership and accept the proposal for a common coordination data format. The benefits to utilizing a common format in the electronic exchange of data are readily seen and are shared by all the participants making it a true partnership.


The common coordination data format took over 2 years to develop and implement with the assistance and/or persistence of a number of staff in DOS, DAA and DASM. Individual medals were presented to the members of the development and implementation teams by Director General Bob Jones of the Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Regulatory Branch. The recipients were the people who played a significant role in developing this standard and it goes without saying that there were others as well who in turn supported them in their efforts.


The recipients:

From DOST : Pat Carrey, Chris Lafkas, Pierre Gaudreau, Tom Mouchet, Len Powers, Bob McRae, Ginette Guenette.

From DAA: François Guillot.

From DASM: Normand Trickey, François Sigouin.



CANCOORD Staff: L-R, Sue Rebecanni, Francois Guillot, Pat Carrey, Francois Sigouin, Bob McRae, Luc Lemieux,

Dave Bosquet, Tom Mouchet, Denise Duchesne, Ginette Guenette, Monique McGee, Chris Lafkas.

Missing: Iftikhar Khan, Pierre Gaudreau, Len Powers.


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