FCC Auction - more news on wireless microphones of the future.

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The FCC has just completed another round of auctions, selling off more of the wireless spectrum that we use for wireless microphones.  The short story is that your wireless microphones that operate between 617-698MHz will be phased out at some point starting after 39 months from today. And you will have to replace them. 

In 2010, we went through this with you and our goal is to keep you as prepared as possible for what comes next.  So here is some news from the Shure website, with a closing paragraph from us. 

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January-February 2017 -- Forward Auction Stage 4 - Wireless telecom companies bid on the spectrum. Stage 4 of the forward auction has raised enough money to meet the minimum requirements to be declared successful. Thus, we now know that 84 MHz, from 614 MHz through 698 MHz, of spectrum will be reallocated.  Stage 4 of the forward auction raised $19.63 billion.

How will the Auction affect my wireless systems?

The FCC has successfully auctioned 84 MHz of UHF spectrum. 70 MHz of this spectrum will be reallocated to mobile broadband services. A 3 MHz band and an 11 MHz band will be used as a guard band and a duplex gap band.

During the 39-month transition period, if you own wireless microphone systems that operate in auctioned spectrum (617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz), it will be your responsibility not to interfere with new services once they begin operation. At the conclusion of the transition period, operation of wireless microphones in the auction spectrum will not be permitted by law. On a practical level, it is likely that these new services will create an unpredictable spectrum environment, resulting in interference that will impact the reliability of a wireless microphone operating in this spectrum. Equipment owners are advised to confirm the operating frequency range of their systems and comply with the new rules of operation during and after the transition period. It is worth noting that 653 MHz through 663 MHz will still be available for wireless microphone operation, with some restrictions, during and after the transition period.

How is Shure preparing for the Auction?

As part of the FCC’s commitment to the wireless audio community, new spectrum opportunities are being investigated, so users have options to achieve reliable operation. Shure has already begun expanding product offerings to take advantage of other frequency band options, such as 900 MHz and VHF versions of ULX- D and QLX-D, GLX-D in 2.4 GHz, and Microflex Wireless in 1.9 GHz. With the incentive auction reaching a final stage, we now know the UHF TV band of the future will be 470 MHz to 608 MHz. After the new TV station channel assignments are made public, we will have a much clearer picture of how crowded the new UHF spectrum may or may not be.

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I need new wireless systems; what should I do?

Now that we know that the future of UHF TV is 470-608MHz, buy wireless systems in that range.  Going forward, do not buy any wireless systems that operate between 617-698MHz, even though some wireless microphone manufacturers continue to sell them.  These will become very inexpensive and are only worth the purchase, if you're willing to abandon those systems at some point in the fairly near future.  You can also investigate VHF (169-216MHz) systems, 900MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.4GHz as options.  With the proliferation of wireless devices and networks, the best thing to do is to talk with us about planning for your wireless future.  Call us anytime at 800-747-7301, if you have questions and for help with wireless system applications.