FCC Changes to Wireless Mic Systems

The Federal Communication Commission has long held command of the airwaves, though with relatively little interruption to the average homeowner or business operator. However, in 2017, the FCC transitioned several frequencies under a different umbrella in order to make more room for the service needs of wireless broadband providers and equipment. This change led to a serious disruption in the use of wireless microphones across schools, theatres, churches, sports stadiums, and conference centers across the nation.

The Change in Spectrum Bands

Wireless microphones and other similar devices are designed to use spectrum bands to connect to their support system. Usually, these bands were the unused portions of television bands on both UHF and VHF channels. While there are rules for operating on these spectrums, users don’t have to have a license to operate their equipment. As wireless broadband needs grew across the U.S., the FCC decided to auction off some of the bands that had been designated as licensed television broadcast stations. These sales limited the availability of certain frequencies.

The 600 MHz Service Band

Wireless devices that operated on the 6000 MHz frequencies were those impacted by the FCC’s move. The specific range of frequencies run from 614-698 MHz. Any existing devices that relied on this spectrum had to be transitioned to another available frequency or phased out altogether. The FCC allowed users until the summer of 2020 to make these transitions. For many organizations, it meant a complete overhaul of their sound system, from soundboards, directional couplers, mics, and speakers.

The Other Available Frequencies

There are still other spectrum bands available for wireless microphone users, though your specific equipment may not be compatible with these frequencies. You can still use:

  • Frequencies in the 600 MHz guard band (614-616 MHz)
  • UHF and VHF frequencies that remain below 608 MHz
  • Frequencies between 653 and 657 MHz for licensed users and 657 to 663 MHz for unlicensed users

If your organization hasn’t updated its wireless mic system, you may have trouble with feedback from your system. Check with your systems manufacture to ensure compliance with the FCC.

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