Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens

Page 15 of 26

Spectrum Surveillance and Monitoring - Nowadays (2004)

Back in the Quebec Region


In 1963, HQ conducted a study of the radio coverage of monitoring stations. The main outcome was the decision to establish some northern stations to provide better HF coverage. Gilles Migneault and J.C. Mondou found an appropriate site and Laval Desbiens set up a monitoring station at Senneterre in Abitibi in 1969. Jacques Pageau came up as OIC.

The increasing use of higher frequencies revealed the need for specific facilities, in part to make up for the lack of staff otherwise required on the road, to help solve inter-system interference problems quickly and to obtain more data on actual use of the very high frequency spectrum. We recovered some equipment from the Department's laboratory in Ottawa and the first observation centre in Quebec was set up in Montreal.


Montreal Spectrum Observation Centre (SOC)


A few years later, the Montreal SOC (Spectrum Observation Centre) was no longer enough. Increasingly intense monitoring of radio activity in the VHF and UHF bands, assistance for inspectors on the road and the need for a regional training centre required additional efforts.


A receiving site that had been abandoned by the Department of National Defence was found about 50 kilometres from Montreal. At one time, this installation had been twinned with a transmission site at St. Jacques, with both being used for trans-Atlantic communications.

The Department of Communications obtained the transfer of the property.


St-Rémi Monitoring Station


It was a solid building equipped with all the facilities, an emergency power supply, underground electrical service, in an agricultural area on a multi-acre property that already had dual rhombic antennas directed to the north and east that were set up to allow a variety of reception.


In addition, there was an 80 m tower to install antennas for covering VHF mobile radio and more in the surrounding area, in other words, an ideal site.

After the building was restored, Laval Desbiens was in charge of the plant and operations of the Spectrum Monitoring and Observation Centre (new in technical jargon) at St. Rémi de Napierville, which became operational in 1971. (Other photos appended)


Among other things, we took advantage of surplus assets from the Department's laboratory (Clyde Avenue) to install a Faraday cage and appropriate other equipment impossible to obtain otherwise due to budget constraints.

Fernando Gutierrez became the new supervisor in 1975. In reply to some distinguished visitors at the Centre one day, who asked about the purpose of the installations, Fernando judiciously answered: "... we are like a traffic light, green means everything is OK, but when it's yellow or, worse, red, then we notify the authorities..."

The Centre was also used for training inspectors and technicians, and for making a training video.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Spectrum Observation Centres (SOC) were established in various district offices.


Chicoutimi Spectrum Observation Centre (SOC)

Around 1995, computerization appeared on the horizon and some offices received computerized equipment manufactured in the Atlantic Region.


The 21st century saw the arrival of computerized radio monitoring systems and electronic surveillance (ES) - techniques that have not yet become part of history!

Spectrum Management - From the Early Years to the 1990s

by Laval Desbiens