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Changes to Operations on Frequencies in the 600 MHz Service Band

on March 09, 2020

Previously, we outlined how the spectrum auctions by the FCC and the new regulations surrounding them would affect you. As a quick refresher, part of the 653-663 Duplex Gap will be reserved for licensed wireless mic/monitor users (653-657), with restrictions; the other part (657-663) will be open to unlicensed and licensed wireless mic/monitor users and white space devices (again with restrictions).

After July 2020, the wireless mics and monitors outside of the Guard Band and Duplex Gap zones will not function, and will be illegal to operate on these frequencies.

If you have equipment in the 600 range, you should be looking into replacing them sooner rather than later on the off chance someone in your area begins using your frequency. Since you will be required to defer to the mobile broadband licensee, it is better for you to be prepared for the switch early rather than pausing production to upgrade your equipment on short notice.

The FCC issued a notice addressing this as the most recent TV spectrum auctions were ending, advising that wireless mics could still be used in 600 MHz spectrum as long as there was no interference to TV broadcasters or wireless broadband operations. The FCC also established a firm deadline of July 13, 2020, for a complete stop of wireless mic operations in the 600 MHz spectrum deeded to the telecoms.

With the deadline less than half a year away, like broadcasters, wireless mic users face the loss of more than 80 MHz in the region between 608 and 692 MHz where mics had been allowed to operate. This loss of spectrum is in addition to the 100 MHz or so that was reallocated for wireless broadband use when TV channels 52 to 69 became unavailable in the aftermath of the 2009 transition to DTV.

The FCC is still allowing unlicensed wireless microphone operation on any unoccupied UHF (or VHF) TV channel, but the problem is that with the current consolidation of stations into an even smaller neighborhood, there are fewer and fewer unoccupied channels anymore, especially in metropolitan areas—where the great majority of wireless mic users are found.

“The reallocation of the UHF Band for mobile and other services is the single largest regulatory challenge that has faced the wireless microphone industry globally,” said Mark Brunner, Vice President of Corporate and Government Relations at Shure. “Reduction of TV band spectrum has occurred while demand by productions for wireless microphones and related pro-audio equipment has steadily increased. The TV spectrum has been the primary home for wireless microphones since the beginning, and this spectrum is ideally suited to the RF performance characteristics desired by technical crews.”

HB and Shure are here to help out with your upcoming microphone woes. Shure has announced a new instant rebate promotion for customers who upgrade to a Shure digital wireless system. Shure’s new promotion will apply to Axient® Digital, ULX-D®, and QLX-D® Digital Wireless Systems.

Digital systems, like Shure’s, provide professionals, integrators, sound engineers, and end users with the ability to fit more channels into the condensed airspace for optimal performance.

Shure’s new instant rebate program savings are:

  • Instant savings of $600/channel for Axient Digital with ADX-FD transmitters
  • Instant savings of $400/channel for Axient Digital with ADX transmitters
  • Instant savings of $300/channel for Axient Digital
  • Instant savings of $200/channel for ULX-D Digital Wireless Systems
  • Instant savings of $100/channel for QLX-D Digital Wireless Systems

No trade-in gear is required, and the discount is applied upfront. The program will run until April 16, 2020 so time is of the essence.

“The wireless spectrum as we know it is diminishing, especially now that the 600 MHz auction is complete. So, there are more users competing for a smaller, usable spectrum—this causes a very crowded RF environment, and, in some cases, lackluster audio performance,” said Sean Bowman, UCANZ Sales Director for Musician and Consumer Audio, at Shure. “We developed the new instant rebate program to provide an obvious path for transition from analog systems to our new digital solutions. Top-of-the line solutions, like Axient Digital, maximize performance and increase channel availability while providing the dependable audio quality and reliability customers have come to expect from Shure.” 

Have any questions, HB is here to help answer them and get you started to getting the Shure rebate.