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Shure's Plan for Protecting Wireless Microphones

Wireless microphone manufacturer Shure Inc. met with the FCC Office of Engineering technology staff on Oct. 1 to outline a plan for addressing spectrum for wireless microphones and protection from interference from "white space" devices (WSDs). Shure's Ex parte notice includes a presentation that provides some highlights of the plan.

It isn't surprising, based on Shure's press releases and previous comments that the company believes spectrum-sensing technology for WSDs will not work.

Shure's presentation proposes keeping adjacent TV channels clear of new unlicensed devices. It also states all WSDs must be managed by geolocation and online database technology and prohibited from operating on protected channels identified in the database as either TV, medical telemetry, radio astronomy, or wireless microphone channels.

Shure's plan would set aside six UHF and two VHF channels per market as protected wireless microphone channels for three years following the order establishing the channels. After three years, the number of channels would be reduced to four UHF and two VHF. The reduction assumes new technology will reduce the spectrum needed for wireless microphones. Additional channels would be protected in the geolocation database for large-scale operation, limited by the duration and location of the event, for licensed users pursuant to Shure's proposed updates to FCC Part 74.

The presentation offers little detail on Part 74 changes but offers these comments:

  • "Update Part 74 licensing to reflect expanded eligibility to cover large scale uses that will be protected by and online database registration.
  • "Licensing by operation of rule" pursuant to Section 307(e) of the Act eliminates cumbersome filing requirements for small-scale wireless microphone operations in locally specified protected UHF and VHF (similar to medical devices.)"

The loss of the 700 MHz spectrum for wireless microphones is going to increase competition for wireless microphone spectrum. While channels can be reused at multiple locations throughout the market, large productions require a large amount of spectrum, not only for wireless microphones but also for IFB and intercom operations. Shure is one of many organizations seeking protection for wireless microphones from WSD interference.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.