Wireless microphones in the 700 Mhz band must cease this year


SatelliteGuys Master
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Oct 13, 2003
Jacksonville, FL, Earth
As part of the transition to DTV, certain frequency spectrums previously occupied by UHF TV channels and various licensed wireless microphone and control services in the TV and radio broadcast as well as all other professional and amateur uses must vacate and cease use after June 12, 2010.

What this means is if you own a wireless microphone that operates in the range of 694 to 806 Mhz band ( AKA 700 Mhz band ) it will no longer be allowed to be used after June 12, 2010. This restriction will hit all wireless microphones made by Audio Technica, Sennheiser, Sony, Lectrosonics, Nady, asnd several others prior to 2008. Most wireless microphones sold prior to 1990 were in the VHF range and have long since been illegal.

The problem is that while the FCC granted licenses to all wireless audio manufacturers they were not licensed to users of a licensed wireless microphone and people operated it under a license free classification. This portion of the spectrum was auctioned off to Qualcomm, Verizon and AT&T for use in the new 4G or LTE technology except for a few band segments that did not meet reserve bid minimums. This portion was then reserved for emergency services.

What TV and radio are needing to do today? They will be switching to hard wire microphones for both studio and ENG ( electronic news gathering ) services. For the most part, EFP ( Electronic Field Production ) & movie making have traditionally used hard wire audio so it is expected that there will be little impact in this part of the industry.

To give you an idea of the impact of this in terms of cost, personally, I own 5 wireless professional mics that will be illegal to use and sell in the US after June 12, 2010. Few people would buy one of these now anyway. You might think that you could get away with it and not get caught, but the reality is that with LTE services coming on board, the microphone will be technically useless and not only generate but be crippled with RF interference. Personally, I have $13000 of professional audio equipment that will be obsolete overnight. I cannot afford to replace this equipment with the state of the industry and economy the way it is. Ironically, my equipment occupies the portion of spectrum that did not auction off so it may, technically, operate, but if an emergency service squats on that frequency, I could be subject to fine and prison so the bottom line is, the equipment that was legal yesterday is junk today.

I've been on the phone with several wedding videographers in the same boat, a few are thinking to toss in the towel this year as it will be that proverbial straw that breaks their back.

The date of June 12, 2010 was announced just last month and while we did know about the auction in 2008, there wasn't a hard vacate date set until last month.

Pillsbury > Resources > Publications & Presentations > Advisory?Radio, Television, and Other Users of Wireless Microphones Must Migrate Out of the 700 MHz Band
This is stupid. My church uses wireless mics in that range. Are they going to pay us for the mics now that we have to buy new ones. Don't bother to answer, because I know the answer is no. :mad::mad::rant::rant:
This is stupid.

I'm sure most people will just keep on using their equipment until they get a lot of interference. I doubt they'll be putting anyone in prison over this.
In reviewing my own inventory, I did buy one Sony mic last year and it operates in the 2.4Ghz band. It is the same frequency spectrum as Blue Tooth and is labeled as such. This is the only mic I own that will be legal after June 12 this year. In this same spectrum are not only all other BT devices but also wifi and a home wireless telephone. The spectrum will get quite crowded when all wireless devices move to this spectrum. The good news is the distance these devices work is a fraction of what we had with the 700 Mhz band.

While the Fed Gov is not going to do a damn thing for the industry, several manufacturers who sold devices in 2009 that will lose their legal status in 2010 will offer some sort of rebate or credit on their new devices.
A friend of mine said AT will give him a 15% discount off MSRP on new mics since he just recently bought the ones that will not work after June 12.

Also, ever see those wireless headsets used by the coaches on the NFL games? Guess they will be hard wired to the bench now. :D
Most will not even know that they will be illegal to use after June 12 so most will probably still be in use. Those that do know will probably still use them.

It all depends what channel. If your channels are in the Verizon LTE segment you will know right away since already in some areas that are testing the mics will be all noise and just won't work. ( RF interfererence ) :) One local production company was here today to rent my 'soon to be illegal' system as they are programmable and capable of operating in a white channel, not auctioned off. But still in the forbidden band of channels. They still work but are the more expensive variety. His are Sony's that are not programmable but fixed channels selection. He bought them in October 2009. They no longer work as they are on a current channel now in use! When you turn on the receiver they sound like an old dialup modem trying to connect. He is really mad too and said he wrote to protest to the FCC. I told him he stands a better chance writing to his congressman, but she is Corrine Brown and that's too bad because she is too stupid to understand any of this stuff. She is the dumbest person ever elected to any office in the history of the US!
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I could mention someone else vying for that title, but then we'd be getting too political.

I guess it's a done deal.
It has been known for years that the upper UHF channels would be abandoned. It was only uncertain about the lower VHF. Manufacturers should have moved down the UHF band a long time ago.
Mike- actually it has been known for 3 years. 2007 was the last FCC granted type approved licensed wireless device for that band. In 2008 they auctioned off the band and in January 2010 announced the hard vacate date. One could say, as you did, that we've known about this since 1996 but in reality, nothing regarding this band was specific until 2008.

In my opinion ( prejudiced) the FCC should not have encouraged the use of this band for 11 years as they did when the intent was to throw the users they encouraged out because they wanted to make a profit on licensing. Make no mistake about my opinion. I do not blame those who had the money to bid in the auction, rather I blame the government for screwing over a whole industry in favor of another with deeper pockets. We see the same mindset with new interpretation of the eminent domain laws in many locals these days.

It was not to move down the band, Mike, The move is up to 2.4Ghz to 2.485Ghz where the new wireless microphone services are to squat, sharing with wifi and blue tooth and some wireless home telephones. While ENG applications may work OK, most wireless services in use in broadcast TV and theater will suffer since their systems typically need to transmit farther than the 2.4Ghz will work.

There is one technical solution I see possible. That is to make a whole new line of accessories for cell phones and use cell phone technology like wireless microphones. This will solve the distance problem. sound quality will not suffer on CDMA but GSM may when the cell gets over crowded because it will slice out the spectrum for additional calls.
Still, complaints will fly when unaware people discover their devices no longer work due to interference. Might be an interesting show.

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