With FCC order, many wireless microphones are on an endangered species list

Users of wireless microphones operating in the 700MHz band got some surprises last week while checking their wireless microphones on the FCC’s new list of prohibited models after June 12, 2010.

The list contains the model numbers — manufacturer by manufacturer — of banned models and whether or not they can be upgraded. Under the order issued by the commission, users of the prohibited models have only a few more months before having to switch to legal models of wireless devices.

No surprise, the FCC’s ruling was part of a national shift on the deployment of bandwidth, which is now at a shortage due to the increased 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.

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.

Many sporting groups and other parties 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. Use of 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, which go into effect after June 12, 2010.

“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,” said Mark Brunner, Shure’s senior director global brand management.