FCC Launches Unlicensed Wireless Mic Registration System
The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) has launched a new unlicensed wireless microphone registration system that will enable qualifying parties to register major event/production venues with the TV bands database systems so that operations of unlicensed wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary station devices at specified times will be protected from potential interference caused by other unlicensed devices (referenced herein as “white space devices”) that also may operate on unused broadcast TV channels. The registration system is available online at http://www.fcc.gov/uls/login.
At this time, the FCC is only accepting applications for registration for venues located in one of the following States (plus Washington DC) in the East Coast region – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina. Focusing registration at this time on one region of the country will enable the FCC to validate that the registration system is working properly and qualifying operators can register their venues as intended. Once the FCC determines that the system is functioning properly, it will open up registrations for all of the other regions of the country.
“We anticipate opening up registration across the country later in the fall, and will announce this process in a subsequent public notice,” the FCC said in a statement.
Wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary devices are allowed to operate on unused channels in the UHF and VHF frequency bands used by broadcast television (TV Channels 2-51, except Channel 37) on both a licensed and an unlicensed basis. The Commission has long allowed operation of low power auxiliary stations on a licensed basis, viewing use of these devices as necessary and beneficial to broadcast productions and similar movie and cable program productions.
Since 2010, the Commission has permitted unlicensed operations of wireless microphones in the TV bands pursuant to certain Part 15 rules and specified technical requirements. The Commission also permits unlicensed white space devices to operate on many (but not all) of the unused channels in the TV bands.
The Commission established different policies and rules for registering licensed and unlicensed wireless microphone operations or other low power auxiliary stations in the TV bands database. Licensed operations may be registered directly with one of the TV bands database administrators for protection from interference from unlicensed operations by white space devices. Registration of unlicensed wireless microphones – the subject of this Public Notice – is available only in certain limited cases, such as “major sporting events,” “live theatrical productions/shows,” and other “major events where large numbers of wireless microphones will be used and cannot be accommodated in the available channels.”