Broadcasters Propose Gradual Wireless Mic Migration Off 700 MHz

Broadcasters and wireless mic maker Shure Inc. support the FCC plan to move wireless mics from the 700 MHz spectrum following the DTV transition. But they say the FCC’s tentative plan to force a switch before the Feb. 17, 2009, is too much too quickly.

“Even though Shure no longer manufactures 700 MHz equipment for use in the United States, significant 700 MHz use and equipment exists and a transition will be complex, costly and disruptive,” Shure told the FCC Oct. 3. :Wireless microphone users will face difficult financial, technical and logistical issues and it is not reasonable to expect these users to ‘turn on a dime’ and cease 700 MHz operations virtually overnight.”

Aug. 21, the FCC launched a rulemaking procedure on the migration of wireless mics out of the 700 MHz spectrum slated for Advanced Wireless Services, ending wireless operations on the date full-power TV vacates those same channels, Feb. 17, 2009.

Shure proposed a 24-month transition period instead of a February “flashcut.” NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television proposed that wireless mic operation in specific places and frequencies end either 60 days before a new entrant begins service on the spectrum, or by February 2012 at the latest.

“These users, and particularly broadcast television stations spending large sums to complete the transition to digital television, cannot afford to spend the thousands of dollars needed to re-tune or replace equipment in just four months,” NAB and MSTV told the FCC Oct. 3.

Shure has said it has sought clarification on the issue, knowing it would have to vacate the airwaves. The FCC rulemaking launched a few weeks after a coalition of groups, many of which also are battling wireless mics on the issue of future white space policy, filed a complaint.

Under the proposed rules, the FCC would also ban the manufactures of wireless mics operating in 700 MHz, a move also opposed by Shure.