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Old July 14th, 2017, 07:12 PM   #1
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New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Posted yesterday here in the NEWS section was an article about and FCC ruling that has an effect on wireless communications. The part I am most interested in is what effect the ruling would have in regard to the use of a wireless lavaliere.
Sennheiser Applauds FCC Ruling

All my lavaliere are wired except for one very old unit which I really haven’t used so I have considered getting a new one. Given all the discussion for the past couple years about frequency changes this potential acquisition has been put on the back burner (they aren't cheap). However, if this ruling is going to stick around for a while then I would reconsider, hence the interest in this article.

Curious, what others think about the ruling and especially how it would affect portable units similar to the Sennheiser Evolution G3 EW 110 ENG/RødeLink 2.4 GHz/Audio Technica Sys 10/Sony UWP-S/ kind of units.

Do I read this correctly, it appears that some of the existing units get a reprieve (i.e., don’t become obsolete)?

Disclaimer or Note: I have no intention of running out and buying a wireless one so not looking for which one to get, but just looking down the road in case it becomes a thing to add to the kit (say a good price on a used one).
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Old July 14th, 2017, 08:27 PM   #2
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

The response from Sennheiser seems disingenuous at best. Any maker of wireless microphones would applaud anything that causes users' to go out and buy new wireless kits.

That said, the 700 MHz band was taken away several years ago, and most of the 600 MHz band has essentially been withdrawn as well. Note that only the upper part of the 600 MHz band is affected. i.e. everything below 614 MHz continues the same status (unofficially tolerated, but not completely "legal").

Here is the official word from the FCC:

Changes beginning in 2017 concerning operation on 600 MHz frequencies. Beginning in 2017, the amount of TV band spectrum available for wireless microphone use is decreasing as a result of the incentive auction, which was completed on April 13, 2017. A significant portion of the TV band spectrum in the 600 MHz band, including most (but not all) of the spectrum on TV channels 38-51 (614-698 MHz), has been repurposed for the new 600 MHz service band for use by wireless services, and will not continue to be available for wireless microphone use. Specifically, wireless microphones that operate in the new 600 MHz service band (the 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz frequencies) will be required to cease operation no later than July 13, 2020, and may be required to cease operation sooner if they could cause interference to new wireless licensees that commence operations on their licensed spectrum in the 600 MHz service band. FCC 14-50, FCC 15-140, DA 17-314 Spectrum will continue to be available for wireless microphone use on the other TV channels 2-36 (TV band frequencies that fall below 608 MHz), on portions of the 600 MHz guard band (the 614-616 MHz frequencies) and the 600 MHz duplex gap (the 653-663 MHz frequencies), and in various other spectrum bands outside of the TV bands. FCC 15-100, FCC 15-99

https://www.fcc.gov/general/wireless-microphones-0

One of the advantages of the 2.4 GHz gear is that the 2.4 GHz band is one of the "ISM" bands which are free to use without licence anywhere on the planet and extremely unlikely to be withdrawn in our lifetimes. It is the same band as used for popular services like WiFi and Bluetooth, etc.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISM_band
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Old July 15th, 2017, 04:19 AM   #3
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

I got really confused on the title - surely it should say New FCC Ruling effect on Wireless?

Got nothing at all to do with the microphone type - I really thought the FCC were interested in microphone - and it turns out it was just frequency bands for wireless.
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Old July 15th, 2017, 04:24 AM   #4
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Come on people.... How often do people change or need to change your mobile phone or laptop computer?
Yet people don't want to change their wireless systems at similar intervals.
Why do you expect a system to last for a life time, times and technology evolve and change, why not change with it?
The way to do it is buy a system, use it, charge for its use, replace every few years with the latest technology.
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Old July 15th, 2017, 04:36 PM   #5
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

The amount of money needed when these things change isn't trivial. If you have 6 channels of wireless (4 mics and 2 returns) you are talking about $15k in transmitters and receivers. Sure, you can fold that in but its not painless. And with all the downward pressure on rates it gets harder and harder to recoup and accept those costs. Especially when the gear you have now works perfectly well.
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Old July 15th, 2017, 05:11 PM   #6
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Yes while have to agree with you Chris about the cost of a frequency change, (and yes I also had to change 6 systems) audio isn't the only thing that changes, the camera people are also hit with changes going from Betacam, to XD cam, to HD, to 4k, to now 8k their cost are far higher than audio changes.

Last frequency change in Australia we had 5+ years notice to move over to that frequency, plenty of time.
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Old July 16th, 2017, 05:30 PM   #7
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Richard - thanks for the clarifying info and the FCC quote.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
That said, the 700 MHz band was taken away several years ago, and most of the 600 MHz band has essentially been withdrawn as well. Note that only the upper part of the 600 MHz band is affected. i.e. everything below 614 MHz continues the same status (unofficially tolerated, but not completely "legal").]
What do you mean by "unofficially tolerated, but not completely "legal"?

It’s difficult deciphering what the proposed impact will be on wireless given the various bands and various pieces of wireless equipment out there.

Based on an assumption (and everyone knows what “assume” means) that competitive brands will use the same frequencies, I went to the Sennheiser site, looked up the ENG system (that has been my baseline for comparison for some time), to see what the spec’d frequencies are and how it compares with this new ruling. Below is what I came up with”

516...558 MHz: seems okay …. unless this is the TV band for channels 2 - 36.
626...668 MHz - this is in the 614 > 698 repurposed band for wireless services so “will not be continue to be available for wireless microphone use.”
734...776 MHz - seems okay
780...822 MHz / Germany
823...865 MHz / Germany
606...648 MHz > this band goes away to cease operation no later than July 13, 2020
780...822 MHz - no change
823...865 MHz - no change
566...608 MHz: Will not be affected: “Spectrum will continue to be available for wireless microphone use on the other TV channels 2-36 (TV band frequencies that fall below 608 MHz),
614 > 616 and 653 > 663 - is available for use: ”….on portions of the 600 MHz guard band (the 614-616 MHz frequencies) and the 600 MHz duplex gap (the 653-663 MHz frequencies), and in various other spectrum bands outside of the TV bands.”

Question #1: Was the rational about other manufacturers using these frequencies realistic? I could research this but if someone already knows it’d save me valuable time.
Question #2: Were there any comments that need modification?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
One of the advantages of the 2.4 GHz gear is that the 2.4 GHz band is one of the "ISM" bands which are free to use without licence anywhere on the planet and extremely unlikely to be withdrawn in our lifetimes. It is the same band as used for popular services like WiFi and Bluetooth, etc. [/url]
If it is unlikely to be withdrawn in our lifetimes, what are the chances of it becoming so overcrowded that it won’t work? For example, I just installed a 2.4 (ISM) HVAC thermostat. The nice part is, in the winter when the thermostat is set for 45ºF and we’re going to go home, before we arrive I can go the app on my cell phone, bump the temperature up, so when my wife walks in the house it’s warm and not freezing cold, so it’s well worth it (for peace in the family).

Editorial comment: What would be fair is if those who want to take over a wireless spectrum would buy back the equipment that everybody bought to use on it that would otherwise subsequently become unusable and deteriorate to junk value.
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Old July 17th, 2017, 09:18 AM   #8
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
What do you mean by "unofficially tolerated, but not completely "legal"?
Back when the FCC drained the 700MHz pool, they claimed that they didn't know (!) that there were so many wireless mic users because essentially none of them had applied for licenses. It was never clear that licenses were required (or even suggested) but it demonstrates the kind of dystopian thinking that goes on in the US Federal Government.

Quote:
It’s difficult deciphering what the proposed impact will be on wireless given the various bands and various pieces of wireless equipment out there.
Ain't that the truth.

Quote:
Based on an assumption (and everyone knows what “assume” means) that competitive brands will use the same frequencies, I went to the Sennheiser site, looked up the ENG system (that has been my baseline for comparison for some time), to see what the spec’d frequencies are and how it compares with this new ruling. Below is what I came up with”
Sorting out what is happening in the US is bad enough. Trying to do that for everywhere on the planet is a very difficult puzzle.

Quote:
Question #1: Was the rational about other manufacturers using these frequencies realistic? I could research this but if someone already knows it’d save me valuable time.
Not sure exactly what you mean here, but no manufacturer of wireless microphones has any exclusive claim to any part of the spectrum. At least here in the US.

Quote:
Question #2: Were there any comments that need modification?
The frequencies used by TV channels around the world are clearly listed here..
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Televi...el_frequencies


Quote:
If it is unlikely to be withdrawn in our lifetimes, what are the chances of it becoming so overcrowded that it won’t work?
Yes, that is the disadvantage of using the 2.4GHz technology. Clearly the first (and second...?) generation of gear has taken advantage of the existing technology which is "cheap as chips". And using clever automatic frequency-hopping and interference-avoiding technology using the microcontrollers built into the technology.

But, as more and more devices pile into the 2.4GHz band, there will come a time when it is too unreliable for realistic use. Surprisingly, we hear reports even in heavy RF environments (New York City office buildings, etc.) of no noticeable affect on 2.4 GHz wireless mic products. But we are already seeing WiFi products moving into the 5.8GHz ISM band. Of course, the higher the frequency, the more line-of-sight it is and the more it is affected by attenuation from the users body, etc.

Note that the ISM bands were established back in 1947. One primary purpose was experimental "RF Heating". Or what we now take for granted as microwave ovens. All microwave ovens operate at 2.4GHz and some of the 100s of watts of power leaks out and interferes with nearby (1m) communication including Bluetooth and WiFi (and 2.4GHz wireless mics).

Quote:
Editorial comment: What would be fair is if those who want to take over a wireless spectrum would buy back the equipment that everybody bought to use on it that would otherwise subsequently become unusable and deteriorate to junk value.
Yes that would be the view of "fair" from the end-users' POV. But the Government is involved, so the billions of income from selling off the spectrum will disappear into the black hole of Federal Waste Land. The total income from the auctions will likely keep the Government fully funded for several hours.
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Old July 17th, 2017, 10:50 AM   #9
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Do you not get compensation? Every licensed user in the UK surrendered their equipment and the Government gave us a very civilised package to go out and buy new gear - I got what I consider very good levels of compensation, and bought less, but better equipment. Surely the FCC will do the same?
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Old July 17th, 2017, 11:07 AM   #10
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Back when the FCC drained the 700MHz pool, they claimed that they didn't know (!) that there were so many wireless mic users because essentially none of them had applied for licenses. It was never clear that licenses were required (or even suggested) but it demonstrates the kind of dystopian thinking that goes on in the US Federal Government.
What is your source for this?
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Old July 17th, 2017, 11:36 AM   #11
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Huff View Post
What is your source for this?
Discussions on this (and similar) forums including quotes from the FCC back at the time. I believe the FCC's actual position was "since so few of you actually registered/licensed your wireless mics, we didn't include wireless mics in the consideration of how to carve up the spectrum." Not that it would have mattered anyway. Wireless mics are like ants at an elephant auction.

Last edited by Richard Crowley; July 17th, 2017 at 01:57 PM.
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Old July 17th, 2017, 02:09 PM   #12
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
Do you not get compensation? Every licensed user in the UK surrendered their equipment and the Government gave us a very civilised package to go out and buy new gear - I got what I consider very good levels of compensation, and bought less, but better equipment. Surely the FCC will do the same?
No compensation. The USA is still the "Wild West" compared to Europe.

There is still no universal licensing or registration for wireless microphones (or other LPADs = Low Power Auxiliary Devices). There are bureaucratic mechanisms for registration, but they seem to be for spectrum reservation/coordination for large events.

Ref: https://www.shure.com/americas/suppo...hone-licensing
Ref: https://www.fcc.gov/help/steps-regis...ing-system-uls
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Old July 18th, 2017, 08:45 AM   #13
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Discussions on this (and similar) forums including quotes from the FCC back at the time.
So your source is your memory from 7 years ago based on things you saw on an Internet forum. Perhaps, in the future, it would be best not to use that as an example of anything.

Quote:
I believe the FCC's actual position was "since so few of you actually registered/licensed your wireless mics
Frankly, I do not believe the FCC ever intended for end-users to register their wireless mics. Remember, you're trying to remember something you read on an Internet forum from seven years ago. It would make more sense for Sennheiser and other wireless system providers to register their band with the FCC, not the end user.

EDIT: And from looking at the website it seems you need to get licensed if you plan to use a system that works in the TV band ranges, which aren't what your old G2 and G3 Sennheiser or other units do.
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Old July 18th, 2017, 09:56 AM   #14
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

Hang on a minute = 7 years is still valid, and while I cannot comment ion the US situation, I remember the same thing in the UK, and I have access to the internet posts from that time, and in my case, OFCOM's papers, published at the time - One must assume that the FCC did exactly the same thing - the number of licence holder is a fact Governments rarely lose.

The situation in the UK was similar - very angry owners complaining about the wasted expenditure, and arguing that they didn't know they were losing the band. When pointed out that people who held licences were informed, they stated they didn't even know a licence was required. Here, Sennheiser and Shure got some flack because they didn't include licence application forms in the boxes - but it was shown that legally, they were not obliged to.

The UK figures eventually showed that about 10% of the product sold was licensed. I'd guess the US situation would be similar in percentage terms, but obviously higher in quantity due to the population size.


In the UK we had a couple of professional associations who lobbied Government very hard - do you have the same thing.
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Old July 18th, 2017, 11:00 AM   #15
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Re: New FCC Ruling effect on Lavaliere?

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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
Hang on a minute = 7 years is still valid
Human memory is notoriously unreliable, and exponentially so as time passes. Not sure why you're not aware of that.

Quote:
I remember the same thing in the UK, and I have access to the internet posts from that time, and in my case, OFCOM's papers, published at the time - One must assume that the FCC did exactly the same thing - the number of licence holder is a fact Governments rarely lose.
You have access to those posts, but you didn't share them? Why not? And why do you assume what happens in the UK is exactly what happens in the US? That seems like quite a leap, especially you claim to have posts relating to that, but again, chose not to provide them.

All that needs to be done is show the source of the FCC requiring end users of Sennheiser, Shure, Lectrosonic, and other consumer/prosumer/professional wireless radios not in the TV bands (800Mhz and below) to register their sets with the FCC. That's all it takes. I can't find it. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but I find no trace of that claim that Richard made that "demonstrates the kind of dystopian thinking that goes on in the US Federal Government."
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