DTV Audio Group Establishes Wireless Microphone Spectrum Working Group

It is inevitable that the amount of RF spectrum available to audio professionals will be significantly reduced as a result of the FCC’s proposed Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction of the 600 MHz band and the consequent repacking of the UHF spectrum. Following closely on the heels of the FCC’s 700 MHz band auction in 2011, this new auction will halve the spectrum available to professional wireless microphone users.

The repacking, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, will make it effectively impossible to produce the thousands of large-scale events, from football games to political conventions, that routinely require as much as 300 or even 350 MHz of wireless frequency spectrum. These events routinely consume all of the currently available UHF spectrum and frequently must request additional spectrum via Special Temporary Authority.

Consequently, the DTV Audio Group has established a working group to inform the FCC of the current scale of wireless microphone use, and to promote discussions with the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) to establish what frequency spectrum professional wireless users might occupy in the future. The working group encompasses our broadcast network members, frequency coordinators and end-users, and wireless microphone manufacturers and service providers including Broadcast Sports, Inc, CP Communications, Broad Comm, Frequency Coordination Group, Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics, Sennheiser and Shure.

The DTV Audio Group supports the position of the NAB that in addition to finding new spectrum some amount of UHF should be protected for wireless microphone operations on breaking news events and other purposes. As an industry it is critical that we work with the FCC to identify the spectrum in which professional users can operate in the future, while also recognizing that it will be in significantly smaller allocations of  less desirable bands than available currently, and that we must be prepared to be flexible in sharing underutilized slices of spectrum with existing incumbent users.  Regarding UHF, not only does the FCC plan to eliminate the protections afforded the pro audio industry during the “white space” debate, but after repacking  there is unlikely to be much white space available in any case.

In the context of identifying new spectrum, the working group supports industry-wide calls for an expansion of licensing for all professional operators, taking into account the shared interests, alongside broadcasters and film studios, of Broadway theaters and tours, production sound companies, large entertainment venues, theme parks and similar large-scale users.


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