Ban Proposed on 700 MHz BAS Operations

The FCC is proposing to ban low-power broadcast auxiliary gear from the 700 MHz spectrum band after the DTV transition end date. The band is currently occupied by TV Channels 52-69, which will be moved to core Channels 2-51 when analog transmitters are powered down next February. The 700 MHz band will then be opened up for cell phone networks and public safety communications.

The commission wants to clear the low-power BAS gear out of the band to prevent interference with new services. The type of devices in question includes wireless microphones, cue-and-control communications gear and TV camera signal synchronizers that transmit around 100 meters, or 328 feet. The commission seeks to end the use of all such devices in the 700 MHz band, as well as prohibit their manufacture, import, sale or shipment.

Low-power BAS devices are currently licensed in 12 frequency bands, including core TV Channel 37. Another comprises Channels 38-69, which covers 614-806 MHz, i.e., all of the 700 MHz band.

There are currently 943 licenses for low-power BAS operations in the United States; 156 of them are in the 700 MHz band. A majority of the 156 hold a second license in 614-806 MHz, but 30 have only a single license in the 700 MHz band. Most of the licensees are TV and radio stations, broadcast networks, cable TV operators, movie and TV producers, educational entities and a few others.

The proposal would also curtail the time period for any current device licenses that extend beyond the Feb. 17 shut-down date. Pending licenses will be put on hold, and no new license applications will be considered.

One mic maker, Shure of Niles, Ill., is already telling customers that the 700 MHz frequencies will no longer be available after the transition.

Comments are due on the NPRM 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, most likely next week. Comments can be filed through the FCC“s electronic system on Dockets 08-166, the NPRM, and 08-167, the coalition petition. Reply comments will be due within 45 days of publication in the Federal Register.