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Real World Gear: Is Now The Time To Replace 700 MHz Wireless Systems?

Possible rethinking of brands and models of wireless equipment in light of ongoing changes; plus, a tour of more than a dozen wireless system options

If you still haven’t heard, the FCC has prohibited the sale of all wireless microphone and monitoring systems that operate above 698 MHz, and have banned their use after June 12 of this year.

The ban on 700 MHz systems includes sales of used inventory as well, including selling to unsuspecting buyers on eBay.

This means any 700 MHz inventory only has value either for sale overseas or as trade-in fodder for the rebates being offered by various manufacturers, many of which run until June 30.

But it won’t be wise to wait two months to replace 700 MHz inventory, as the most popular systems will likely be back-ordered by then, if they aren’t already.

Many users have enjoyed relatively trouble-free operation of their systems until recently, but estimates are that of the roughly 2 million units in the U.S., about a quarter will soon be illegal.

If you’re not sure if a particular system operates in the 700 MHz band, check the listing on the FCC web site (www.fcc.gov/cgb/wirelessmicrophones).

All manufacturers are required to announce that most wireless system users don’t need a license, but must operate at 50 mW or less, accept interference from others, and not cause interference.

Finally the FCC advises that it’s currently evaluating the use of wireless systems, and that the rules are subject to change.

“Failure to comply may lead to civil and/or criminal penalties. This will be determined on a case by case basis.” – FCC statement

While the chances of getting caught may be slim, past FCC penalties have been in the range of $10,000, along with confiscation of equipment. At that price you can simply throw out the old and buy new, which many have already done.

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