Preliminary Report: More Wireless Channels May be Taken

This is only a preliminary report, but that’s appropriate, as the information described here is still not finalized.

The FCC is giving pretty suggestive indications that they’ll be taking more bandwidth away from our range of available wireless microphone frequencies. Nothing is firm yet, but it appears that they’re targeting part of the 600 MHz range

The clearest indications are suggesting that the change wouldn’t happen until 2017 at the earliest, though that may be an early date. Those sources are also suggesting that the frequencies being considered are the 658 MHz to 697 MHz.

You’ll remember that the FCC sold 698 MHz to 806 MHz in 2008, largely to cell phone companies, though much of one block was purchased for television broadcasts. The sale generated $19.592 billion; that’s a lot of money, and it appears that they’re motivated by the same goals again.

There are some significant differences this time around:

·         The preliminary reports are that they’re looking at fewer frequencies (658 MHz to 697 MHz), though that decision, like all the others, is still up in the air; it remains possible that they could expand the auction.

·         There has been some not insubstantial noise made, largely by Sennheiser, to require the winning bidders to compensate the existing bandwidth users (that would be you and me!) for the loss of the use of the frequencies.

·         There is apparently discussion going on about re-opening some of the frequencies that had been previously removed from availability to wireless microphone use. The rumors center around frequencies “adjacent to digital TV channels.”

·         Last, but certainly not least, the FCC appears to be working with a more transparent process this time around. This is, in reality, pretty advance information: much better than last time!

While discussing these changes in the RF spectrum, and the growing demand for the very limited amount of RF spectrum that’s available (a limitation of physics), we discussed other options for the demand for wireless audio devices. We discussed infrared technology, Bluetooth, and WiFi as potential options among those technologies currently available. Nobody admitted to be working on completely new technology.

Disclaimer: This article is a summary of “not authorized for public announcement” conversations about public information. While the individuals in the conversation are very familiar with the industry, much of this is rumor and none of it is an official announcement (as far as I know) yet. This article is merely discussing rumors in the field.

And even the most alarming rumors are certain that nothing will happen until 2017 at the earliest. This is not (this time) a rush project.