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Changes Are The Only Constant In The Marketplace For Wireless System Spectrum

Although we've all been aware of many aspects of these problems for several years now, it's important to note that this subject is a moving target

By Mike Wireless April 28, 2009

Mike Wireless, international man of RF mystery

Many of us have heard about White Space Devices (WSDs) and that they have been named TV Band Devices (TVBDs) – maybe because “WSD” sounds a little too close to “WMD”.

And perhaps some of us are aware that according to the FCC, these devices will co-exist with our TV broadcasts AND our wireless microphones in the UHF band between about 500 and 698 MHz.

So of course the concern is that these devices might interfere with our wireless mics, and indeed, the potential is there for this to happen.

Fortunately, the FCC has built some protection into the technical requirements for TVBDs before they can be manufactured and sold. And the FCC has given wireless mics priority over TVBDs.

The problem of course is that ANY interference, no matter how brief, is unacceptable in the live production environment, so whatever protection is in these TVBDs absolutely must work and must not allow them to step on any wireless mic, anywhere.

One of the protections in place is that these devices are supposed to first access a database of known, registered wireless mics to see A) where they are and B) what frequencies they’re on. This database is supposed to be managed by a third party (in other words, not directly by the FCC).

This also means that wireless mic users would benefit from registering their products. However, thus far we’ve not seen an actual mechanism for this to occur.

But I did just run across something that may end up being involved:

This company, Spectrum Bridge, appears to be positioning themselves to be a marketplace for spectrum. How this will play out is not clear, but it may be worth signing up for their newsletter to keep informed.

I also found a cool feature:

This is an interactive map showing the location of TV broadcasts all over the country. It appears that it may also in the future contain locations of registered wireless mic users or other spectrum users, and again, this might be something worth watching.

In the meantime, Shure has petitioned the FCC to delay allowing TVBDs into the market until they provide even greater protection for existing wireless mic users. (Read more about that here.)

Bravo to Shure for leading the way towards first getting the FCC to recognize the scope of the problem (there are millions of wireless mic users out there), and also for keeping up the fight on behalf of all who depend upon wireless systems.

We have a lot to lose if we suddenly have new devices stepping all over our wireless mics at churches, theaters, tours, boardrooms, stadiums, etc.

Although we’ve all been aware of many aspects of these problems for several years now, it’s important to note that this subject is a moving target and you (yes, you) need to stay informed.

This blog aims to help you do that.

Signing off for now…
Mike Wireless

Mike Wireless is the nom de plume of a long-time RF geek devoted to better entertainment wireless system practices the world over.


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