Churches, venues and school are all scrambling to get updates on the latest round of spectrum re-allocations by the FCC. Anyone relying on the use of wireless microphones during production should be preparing for the coming changes. Here’s what you need to know to get ahead of the problem:
Throughout 2016, the FCC held a four part auction to reallocate wireless spectrum. By the end of 2016, we knew that the frequencies between 614 MHz and 698 MHz would be affected. This means that new broadcast companies will be moving into that range over the course of the next 39 months. During the transition period, wireless microphones and other systems in this range are likely to become unstable. After the transition period closes, unapproved use of wireless microphones in this range is illegal. A small band between 653 MHz and 663 MHz will be exempt from this change under limited circumstances.
What This Means For Your Wireless Microphones
If you aren’t sure what frequency range your wireless systems are in, now is the time to find out. Some wireless systems can be updated or re-banded to a new frequency if necessary. Others are replaceable entirely. It is best to take action sooner rather than later, because once the new owners move into your frequency range it is up to you not to interfere with their business. This could be very disruptive to your productions and can cause quite the headache if you start picking up unwanted interference. The good news is that many wireless microphone manufacturers have already begun issuing directions for re-banding wireless systems, and they have released new products that are within the new legal range.
The FCC is unlikely to stop throwing incentive auctions in the near future. These auctions raise a significant amount of money for the treasury and they do help regulate some industries. As a result, you need to plan ahead for the next round of auctions before they begin (probably around 2020). You can do this in one of two ways: Heading lower into the UHF spectrum which is unusable for other forms of broadcasting, or heading into the VHF frequencies.
If you choose to go the low frequency route you will likely find that gear is less expensive, but you are more likely to encounter crowding, and some challenges with maintaining quality signal. On the other hand, if you shoot for the VHF frequencies over 900 MHz, you will be getting your hands on some of the newest gear to hit the market, as this is the direction that most manufacturers are going.
Before you find out the hard way, now is the time to call a specialist about your wireless systems. The team at Loud Media Group can help you identify any wireless microphones that fall within the affected range. They can also help you find replacement gear that will be safe for use in the future, even beyond further FCC auctions.
Contact Loud Media Group today to learn more about the coming changes to wireless microphones and spectrum.