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Real World Gear: Personal Wireless Monitor Systems

What's the latest with personal monitor systems (IEM), both in terms of RF spectrum issues as well as their operation and technology

As with wireless microphones, personal wireless monitor systems (IEMs) are feeling the impact of this year’s DTV transition that’s pushing wireless devices to operate below channel 52, in the new core TV band.

With this 800-pound gorilla, it should be a banner year for sales of wireless entertainment audio equipment.

Manufacturers have even offered rebates to help replace 700 MHz band inventory (both theirs and others) with new equipment at lower frequencies, but they expire before the end of the year (Shure: 12/31/2009, Sennheiser: 12/1/2009).

So what are you waiting for? Equipment purchased and put into service before year’s end can be written off against 2009 taxes.

Get Down
TV has long since fled channels 52 to 69 to make way for the new services which purchased most of the remaining 700 MHz band auctioned off last year for nearly $20 billion.

Half the money came from Verizon, who have already tested in Seattle and Boston and launch in 30 cities next year. AT&T ponied up another third of that money for new 700 MHz services.

Public safety service in channels 63, 64, 68 and 69 has already deployed in over 40 cities.

Only the unsold “D Block,” just two 5 MHz bands at 758 and 788 MHz (TV 62 & 67), offers a small reprieve for legacy mics and IEMs, but who knows for how long.

The new owners of the 700 MHz band are urging the FCC to require Part 74 devices move down no later than February 18, 2010.

All interested parties are waiting for the other shoe to drop, anticipating an FCC announcement that will require users of wireless mics and IEMs to vacate the 700 MHz band by a certain date in the next year or face heavy fines.

The FCC has not changed the regulations regarding wireless microphones under Part 74, maintaining their protection as secondary devices operating below 698 MHz.

With the advent of new TV Band Devices (TVBDs, formerly called “White Space Devices”) in the near future, the FCC has provided “safe havens” for wireless mics and IEMs.

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