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FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Mayhem

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Danny Grizzle
FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Mayhem
on Jul 19, 2008 at 5:23:36 am

A friend tells me that FCC frequency reallocation will soon make all my wireless mics antiques.

What's the story?



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David Jones
Re: FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Mayhem
on Jul 19, 2008 at 3:31:17 pm

Well, I'm not sure about all of them, but the spectrum that falls within freq. blocks 28 and (I think) 29 will supposedly be sold off. This means it could be illegal to use wireless systems that use these frequencies. If fact, Lectrosonics stopped making wireless units in these blocks. As someone who has two systems on block 28, I hope there will be some sort of compensation!

But hopefully someone who knows vastly more than I will post here :o)


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Ty Ford
Re: FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Ho Hum
on Jul 20, 2008 at 2:33:11 pm

Hello David and Danny,

Don't count on compensation. The FCC is remarkably overburdened and has been forced to do a job they were not funded to do with no where near the people needed to do the job.

As a result, we as members of the production community get hosed. I guess you could say it goes back to most of us not registering our wireless rigs when we got them and following the FCC rules about the use etc..

Back in the late 90s, as technology journalist, I attended a session at NAB in which this topic of was addressed. At some point I asked the rep from the FCC if they expected a problem for operators due to the vanishing spectrum. His response was that, based on their list of registered users, there would be no problem. I then suggested that if he took a look at the sales figures from the wireless mic mfgrs in the US, he would realize that the registered user base was probably 1/10 of the actual user base. Some of the mfgrs were in the room to hear me say that and mumbled in agreement.

He said something about they would know more about how big the problem was when they started hearing complaints from registered users. He has since retired.

So my present take on it is, NO ONE KNOWS. Remember that each TV station will be giving back 6 MHz of spectrum when they turn off the NTSC. Many will move their DTV signal to their old NTSC channel. I also hear that DTV antennae are being sold that are cut to start at channel 7, and that channel 2 here in Baltimore will be moving up, so I'm wondering if the FCC and congress has already decided to do something with channels 2-6. (I don't have solid sources on the channel 2 info, but I'm looking into it.)

A lot depends on what actually gets put on those auctioned frequencies, where the transmitters are placed, how many watts they pump, how far away they are from each other and how long it takes to sell the spaces. Could be it's not as bad as we expect, or at least not for some time.

Re-crystalling wireless mics, presently, is not an inexpensive procedure. BUT, mfgrs didn't even offer much in the way of multi-frequencies over several blocks until this problem raised its head. I think they know they'll have to make some new changes that will allow inexpensive, field-changeable blocks. I'm sure they can do it. They just haven't needed to do it. Why put the R&D into something until you need to?

Hardest hit will be production companies that travel a lot. Maybe it will cause a temporary spike in the rental industry. For sure there will have to be a lot more frequency coordination unless technology figures out a way that multiple spread spectrums (or other protocols) can talk to each other to prevent on-channel collisions.

Given the faith I have in the wireless mic mfgring community, I'm not prepared to say the sky is falling. It'll probably be more like SSDD.

Regards,

Ty Ford





Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Danny Grizzle
Re: FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Ho Hum
on Jul 20, 2008 at 5:19:44 pm

I use Sennheiser, and I have not checked their website recently. But it seems to me this problem has to be addressed now, not later. If nothing else, a white paper with a clear assessment of the situation, and a product roadmap. At some point (like now!), people are going to stop buying wireless mics if there is confusion in the market about frequencies becoming illegal in the near future.

Right now, I'm using cheap Evolution series body packs and receivers, but I added high quality lavaliers to replace the low end mics that come bundled in the kits. I'm ready to upgrade the wireless electronics whenever the situation clarifies, so long as I don't have to throw away my lavalier mics.






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Ty Ford
Re: FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Ho Hum
on Jul 20, 2008 at 6:28:41 pm

Heh, yes, well, you'd be preaching to the choir.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Mickey Houlihan
Re: FCC Frequency Auction / Wireless Mic Ho Hum
on Jul 21, 2008 at 4:40:50 am

The following link will take you to Sennheiser's info regarding the upcoming changes. They ship their evolution product in "A", "B" and "C" blocks and have stopped shipping the "C" range due to the auctioned frequencies.
http://www.sennheiserusa.com/whitespaces/default.asp?transid=1345

Mickey Houlihan


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