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FCC orders frequency changes for wireless microphones

Sports production companies must change the radio frequency they use for their wireless microphones under an order issued last week by the FCC. The groups have until June 12 to find alternative radio frequencies — a task that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for each organization.

The FCC’s ruling is part of a national shift on the reallocation of bandwidth, which some say will soon be in short supply due to the increasing use of mobile telephones and wireless computers. The commission said the wireless microphone transition is necessary to make spectrum in the 700MHz band available for use by next-generation wireless services for consumers and public safety agencies.

Many sports production companies and others had hoped to maintain some part of the spectrum and had argued their use of it would not interfere with new devices. Their arguments did not deter the FCC. Much of spectrum used by wireless microphones was licensed for around $20 billion by major wireless carriers.

Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, said the commission’s order was important because the spectrum vacated will be used by entrepreneurs seeking to come up with new wireless services.

Shure, a major manufacturer of wireless microphones, said it was ready to help users of wireless microphones with the new rules that go into effect after June 12. “We’re pleased that the FCC has issued a firm transition date for 700MHz wireless equipment,” said Mark Brunner, Shure senior director of global brand management. “In anticipation of the post-DTV transition UHF landscape, Shure has been moving its product lines away from the 700MHz band for the better part of a decade, and in recent years, we have increased our information outreach to the user community, including very attractive trade-in rebate programs.”

Shure has not sold equipment that operates in the 700MHz band since 2007, although many of these units remain in service. More information about the Shure components that operate in the 700 MHz band can be found here.

Wireless microphones, in-ear monitors and other professional wireless devices will continue to be permitted in the remaining UHF TV band (470MHz–698MHz). Existing 700MHz equipment should be replaced with systems operating in that range or in other parts of the spectrum. Additional details relating to the FCC’s order and its implications for wireless systems users can be found here.