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Old November 7th, 2015, 06:48 AM   #1
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USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

I just came across this 84 page document posted by the FCC:
http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Rele...C-15-100A1.pdf
Title: "In the Matter of: Promoting Spectrum Access for Wireless Microphone Operations [vs.] Expanding Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum through Incentive Auctions." The [vs.] was supplied by me as a snarky editorial remark.

For those who only recently came out from under their rock: The FCC has already taken away the popular 700 MHz band where many (most?) of our wireless audio gear was operating, and it looks like the 600 MHz band has only a short time left (a year or two?)

The rapid increase in demand for consumer digital wireless devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.) of course is driving the need for additional spectrum to accommodate all the high-speed (read: wide-band) users so we can stream the latest mindless sit-com (or "reality show") in full 4K HD to a 4 inch screen while we dangerously attempt to drive down the highway. I guess that is the price we pay for living in a modern, high-tech society.

The good news is that at least the wireless gear manufacturers have got the FCC to acknowledge that wireless microphones are a legitimate and necessary user of RF spectrum and should be officially accommodated even if they only continue to consume "table-scrap leftovers" of spectrum.

And the bad news is that wireless microphones (as most all other users) continue to be pushed up into higher and higher frequencies. One benefit of higher frequencies is that it better accommodates digital operation which certainly has quality and operational benefits. But higher and higher frequencies also make propagation more difficult because of more severe line-of-sight limitations caused by "RF shading" from having the transmitter on the other side of the subject's body and/or increased absorption and/or reflection phenomenon from higher frequencies.

I have concerns about the use of the 2.4GHz ISM band as we have seen in several new products from Audio Technica, Rode, and even Azden because that band is shared with WiFi, Bluetooth, and even microwave ovens and 2.4GHz already seems "over-booked" even before wireless microphones "discovered" it.

Alas, the document is written in a deadly combination of leagaleze and "government-speak", and it will take some time to read through the whole thing and try to digest what they are saying (if there is actually any clear indication in there at all). It looks like the commissioners' statements at the very end of the document may be a more "human-scale" place to start reading.

In any case, we can probably kiss our 600MHz gear good-bye in the near future and start shoving more $$$ into the piggy-bank in preparation for buying new wireless gear.
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Old November 7th, 2015, 10:27 AM   #2
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

Good grief.
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Old November 8th, 2015, 02:08 AM   #3
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

This is what happened just a few years ago in the uk when our Government sold off the chunk of spectrum where our radio mic band was (69). We had industry ranting, tales of doom and gloom and lots of specialist press coverage and new associations being formed. Then it happened and all licensed users got a form to complete. Each popular radio used by entertainment and broadcast was on it, and each one had a surrender value. The kit went back ten years, model wise and the value was far higher than the equipment was worth. I got rid of nearly all my equipment. Perhaps thirteen or fourteen systems and loads of random receivers and transmitters. They gave us a new band, a bit smaller, and outside the tuning range of virtually everything. I bought a smaller number of brand new systems. Then the phone people didn't buy the empty band as quickly as the government expected and we were given the option of buying back channel 69 kit to use in the interim, as long as we promised to stop when told. They sold it back at a real discount. Plus, you could buy back anything. Some kit I knew would also cover ch 70, which here is 4/5 channels of license free space. I ordered a few bits, and paid ten pounds for an IEM receiver. When it came it was a lot of ten! Channel 38 our new allocation is now busy, but it's working. Long term licensees also got a few channels in 65 thrown in. Tv and theatre are important to the economy so the government know they have to provide. We moan about our government but they did it quite well here.it had the advantage of annoying the unlicensed operators who are often ignorant and they are now trying to use a band full of nasty digital noises!
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Old November 8th, 2015, 09:28 AM   #4
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

I don't recall it being quite as generous in the USA when we lost the 700 mHz a few years ago. From recollection, Sony offered some sort of nominal discount (so one could buy into the 600 mHz band), but it was relatively short lived and if you missed it you missed it for ever. Don't recall what others mfgrs did.

I suspect it is all about the government trying to scrape up a few more $$$$ to support its largess to the non-working classes.
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Old November 8th, 2015, 02:10 PM   #5
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

I am still the not so proud owner of two Sony wireless mic kits from the 700 range days. That sit in an old audio rack with other outdated gear. The other gear served its useful purpose until it was replaced by newer technology, like a Tascam MiniDisc player/recorder. The two mic kits however, remain a source of irritation for me. It is difficult for small business operators to invest thousands of dollars in kit and than be told one day you can go to jail if you power it up. So they have not been powered since the ban.

Thanks for the heads up Richard. Since I got burned once already these frequency issues are important to me. I do not want to add to my pile of perfectly good gear that is completely useless!!!

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Old November 9th, 2015, 06:37 AM   #6
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

Probably can get away with using the old systems in relatively rural areas if you check the band first - they do have rather low power and a limited range, but major metro areas could be problematic.

If I recall correctly, there once was an 11 meter ham band, until CB took it over in the late 1950s. Does anyone still play in CB these days?
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Old November 9th, 2015, 10:09 AM   #7
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

I put my 3 Sennheiser G3 systems up for sale yesterday.

Going to go the Tascam DR10C route.
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Old November 9th, 2015, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

Richard,

Thanks so much for going through that document and shedding some light on the wireless situation. Personally, I don't own any wireless equipment and I'd probably be inclined to wait and keep renting until this gets sorted out.

And thanks to everyone else too! Nothing is easy with sound....

Jonathan
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Old November 9th, 2015, 03:52 PM   #9
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Re: USA Wireless Microphone Future - Bad News and Good News and Bad News

This is why I bought a couple 470-542MHz kits a year and a half ago. That was right after the 700MHz spectrum was re-purposed, so I wanted to be as far away as possible for the next round.

In the Los Angeles area 470-500 is already used for digital law enforcement radios and other general purpose radios, so I figure that spectrum is safe for a while.
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