Your wireless microphones will soon be illegal again!

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Fantastic news, I know.

In 2010, the FCC sold off the 700MHz radio spectrum for use by telecommunications companies -- essentially for use by public safety and wireless broadband service for mobile phones and in rural areas. 

In that process, television stations and wireless microphone users were forced to move out of the range that is specifically the frequencies between 698 and 806 MHz.  The tech community had to replace tens of thousands of wireless microphones.

In 2017, that process is repeating itself for the 600Mhz range. This time, the frequencies between 614-698 MHz are affected. And sometime between now and July 2020, with few exceptions, any wireless microphone operating in this range will have to be retired.

2010 was difficult for many users having to replace wireless microphones. What makes the 2017-2020 “repacking” different and even more difficult is that as the television broadcasters are moved from the 600 MHz frequencies, most are being moved into the existing 400-500 MHz space where unlicensed wireless microphones are (and will continue to be) permitted to operate.

Despite remaining legal, in some markets, we have already discovered some cases where legal wireless microphones will not be able to find a safe operating frequency due to the increased density of broadcast traffic. Large churches in Indianapolis, look out!

The repacking of those television stations will come in Transition Phases 1-10 between September 2018 and July 2020.

As soon as your local television stations make the transition, expect the auction winners like T-Mobile to begin use and testing of those frequencies. This information is public knowledge. Look here for more information.

We stopped selling 600 MHz wireless microphones about three years ago, so most of our clients with newer microphones and in-ear systems should not be affected.  Despite that, we expect that most wireless microphone users will have at least some impacted systems. 

If you want to select new systems, please be cautious when buying right now.  What we’re doing for clients is to create clean sets of frequencies not just for 2017, but for beyond 2020 -- today. Remember that some 500 MHz systems will work today, but could be affected when the current 600 MHz television stations move into the 470-599 MHz space.

For clients with larger numbers of systems, we are recommending replacement with systems like the Shure QLXD, ULXD, and Axient Digital since lower priced systems like Shure SLX and others may not work well in some high density environments.  Shure is offering generous rebates (even for competitor's systems) between now and the end of April 2018.  Find more information on the Shure 600 MHz rebates here

These newer Shure systems have the ability to allow more systems to operate in a smaller slice of the wireless spectrum. And unfortunately, working with smaller slices of the existing radio frequency spectrum seems to be the future as demand for wireless services increases.

Questions about whether and how to make this transition to new wireless systems a smooth one? Call us anytime!