FCC considers revised wireless microphone licensing scheme

In the wake of its Second Report and Order on white spaces, the FCC is now considering expanding its licensing rules for wireless microphones, in-ear monitors, production intercom systems and similar equipment that operates in the TV broadcast (VHF and UHF) band. The FCC has invited comments from all wireless users on this topic.

At the request of wireless mic champion Shure, the FCC extended the deadline for comments. The comment period has been extended through March 1. Shure’s Web site contains complete instructions (PDF) on how to file comments to the FCC. In this proceeding, RF users gave their perspective on how they rely on wireless, especially the necessity of interference-free wireless channels in terms of usability, production values and economic implication.

“The complex issues raised in this proceeding have far-reaching ramifications for the entire wireless microphone community, many of whom do not normally follow commission activities,” said Mark Brunner, senior director of global brand management for Shure. “The extension gives wireless microphone users a greater opportunity to develop a complete and meaningful record for the commission’s consideration.”

Currently, the FCC permits wireless microphone operation either with or without a license. However, in the near future, licensed users may be afforded greater protection against interference from future consumer wireless TV band devices (both fixed and portable) that will operate in the same spectrum as wireless microphones.

Until now, licenses were designed for broadcasters, motion picture and TV program producers and similar entities. The FCC is aware that professional wireless systems are used today by musical performers, houses of worship, theaters, schools, businesses and many other groups.

The commission’s call for comments on this proposed rulemaking strongly suggests that there will be multiple classes of wireless users. It is widely speculated that only licensed users will qualify for full interference protection through the nationwide RF database that is currently under development. That functionality that will be one of two key factors in protecting wireless mics from interference by white space devices, which will also be required to have a “detect and avoid” functionality.

The FCC is seeking comments from wireless users that will assist them in determining who should be eligible for a wireless microphone license.