FCC Bans Wireless Mic Use in the 700 mHz Band

How the new FCC rules will impact you – and what you can do about it!

The ban on 700 mHz wireless microphone systems is just around the corner.

Currently, all wireless microphone systems operating in the 700 mHz band will become illegal on June 12, 2010. Although it’s been postponed before, this time the deadline is going to stick.

The FCC ban affects many wireless systems currently used in the USA, and impacts everything from Broadway shows to karaoke bars.

There is a huge volume of information available on the FCC’s 700 mHz ban.

But there is an equally huge amount of confusion. The answers to these 3 essential questions on the FCC’s 700 mHz ban will hopefully clear the air – and tell you how to enjoy interference free (and legal) wireless microphone operation.

1. What is the 700 mHz ban?

In short, with the transition to digital television, TV broadcasters vacated a large swath of the UHF spectrum (from 698 to 806 mHZ).

The FCC then auctioned the 700 band to the highest bidders (including Qualcomm and AT&T) to facilitate the development of wireless broadband Internet service throughout the United States (and to make some money for the US government – more than $19 billion).

In addition, the FCC has reserved select frequencies in the 700 mHz band for emergency and national security purposes.

Wireless microphones that had been operating in the 700 mHz band can cause harmful interference to these public safety and wireless consumer services – and therefore must vacate that frequency range.

Many (but not all) high-end wireless microphones manufactured before the proposed ban began to gather steam (and press) use the 700 mHz segment of the UHF band. After June 10, 2010, using, selling, or re-selling a wireless mic system that operates in this band will be illegal.

So what should you do?

2. Does your current wireless microphone system violate the law?

Estimates suggest that that of the roughly 2 million wireless microphone systems in use in the USA, about a quarter will soon be illegal. But which ones?

If your microphone operates on the VHF bandwidth, or if it operates on any UHF frequency besides 698-806 mHz, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Mics operating in the 700 band frequency range are the only ones that will be affected.

If your system operates within legal limits, the FCC still advises that your system must operate at 50 mW or less, accept interference from others, and not cause interference. Although this is not a problem for many users, implications are still unclear – and the FCC is able to review and revise the rules at any time.

Possible penalties for operating in the forbidden frequency range include equipment confiscations and large fines – potentially in the $10,000 range.

Although the chances of getting caught could be slim, the potential for financial liability is such that many users are ditching their old mics in favor of new, FCC compliant systems.

3. How can you upgrade to a wireless mic system that complies with FCC regulations?

You can buy a new wireless microphone system with confidence. Every new UHF system currently offered by manufacturers operates within legal frequency limits.

But what if you have an old system operating in the 700 mHz band? Despite value in the overseas resale market, your old system is not only illegal, but potentially worthless – and a legal liability.

Fortunately, many audio manufacturers are offering substantial rebates on new wireless systems when consumers trade in qualifying 700 mHz systems.

The best rebate offer we have seen to date is this one from Shure. AudioLink is pleased to pass this offer on to you. Here’s how it works:

Through June 30, 2010, Shure and other manufacturers are offering rebates of up to $500.00 per channel on full wireless systems which are affected by the switchover when you trade up to new Shure wireless microphone systems. For example, if you trade in an old 700 band Shure wireless system for a dual-channel product, your rebate from Shure is $1000.00.

Shure goes a step further by offering a rebate even if you trade in 700 mHz wireless microphone systems from other manufacturers.

Email us or call 1-800-263-0112 for more details of the Shure rebate, or rebates available from other wireless microphone manufacturers such as AKG and Sennheiser.