A couple months ago I was at a conference recording interviews. I stopped and talked with another independent broadcaster to compare rigs. I noticed he had a wireless unit that was in the illegal wireless range. I told him about the spectrum auctions and how devices in that range interfere with the Emergency band. A week later, he notified me to say he got a new wireless to comply.
Hopefully its not in the 600 Mhz range…
The FCC opened up new spectrums for Auction. The 600 Mhz range (Channel 38 – 606 to 614 Mhz) is a spectrum that T-Mobile and Sprint are vying for simply because they only have a high-frequency ranges (in the 1900-2100 Mhz range). These low frequencies can push signals much farther, therefore, better call quality.
However, this new spectrum auction could affect those people who use wireless devices. Broadcasters, musicians or anybody that uses a wireless device might have to turn around and buy new equipment — if the wireless device is in the 600 Mhz range. Wireless devices affected could include microphones, instrument body packs and other high quality wireless devices.
While no mention of emergency bands are going to be on the 600 Mhz spectrum, your device might see signal interference if used. Similar to hearing a TV or radio signal in a speaker when it shouldn’t be there (this was a running joke in the movie Spinal Tap as the amps would get interference all the time). If a caller was trying to contact emergency services, their call could be hampered because of other signals around them.
Sennheiser Asks for Compensation
Audio specialist Sennheiser has put together a petition to the FCC to compensate those people who own microphones using the 600 Mhz range. They stated the 700 Mhz spectrum change of 2010 forced people to buy new equipment and it is not fair to ask them to do it again only three years later.
These wireless devices can cost anywhere from $600-$2000. A TV station for example, can have several wireless devices to use so they can report the news. This could mean a replacement cost of $5,000 or more (more toward the $20,000 range), if all devices are on this 600 Mhz spectrum.
“Wireless microphones are an essential ingredient of content creation in the United States,” commented Joe Ciaudelli, spectrum affairs, Sennheiser Electronic Corp. “Currently, the United States is the number one content creator in the world when it comes to broadcasting, film production and live events. The A/V professionals that produce this content, which is enjoyed by both domestic and international consumers, depend on the 600 MHz frequency spectrum each day.”
Does My Equipment Use 600 Mhz?
So far from what I have reviewed, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Kam and some Sony wireless systems use the 606-614 Mhz range. These are mostly UK-based electronics, too. Other US based wireless UHF microphones use a lower channel (30-32) range.
If you do have equipment that meets the 606-614 Mhz range, it might be best to plan for a changeout. Talk with your representative about replacement options.