What is happening?
Quite simply - a sizable piece of what we commonly use (RF spectrum) for wireless mics, intercoms, etc, is now becoming unavailable to use. As devices that use this area have to leave it, the remaining space available will be more crowded and congested.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) organized an auction of frequencies that we use for wireless mics, intercoms and other monitoring systems. If you have ANY equipment that is in the 614-698 range, those frequencies will soon be used by much higher powered telecommunication equipment. Your wireless equipment occupying that spectrum will not function.
On top of the auction of the 614-698 MHz spectrum, the FCC also moved 1274 TV stations down into an already-crowded and reduced remaining spectrum in the 470-614 MHz spectrum.
Why is this happening?
Because cellular phone companies and telecommunications want to build bigger and better networks (the commercials stating "our network is bigger than ever" well, this network size has to come from somewhere), the need for the spectrum - these frequencies that we use for wireless mics, etc, becomes greater, and these companies will pay more money, so the government saw an opportunity and auctioned the spectrum off to the highest bidder. For example, T-mobile spent 8 BILLION dollars. That's a lot more than wireless mics users would spend.
When is this happening?
It's happening now. As an example, just look at the graphic to the left, showing the timeline of spectrum changes in Dale's hometown of the NYC area. There are already reports of productions being interrupted by the new spectrum owner's testing new equipment in their recently purchased property. T-Mobile is already turning on wireless service on a lot of its new 600 MHz spectrum throughout this year wherever it can, according to several sources.
Why is this important?
If you rely on any wireless mics, in-ear monitors, intercoms, etc, you need to check what range they are in. If are in the 614-698 Mhz range, they will not function in the near future. You will need to get new equipment in a different range.
Another important factor to consider - what else is in the range of the new equipment that you need to acquire? For example - let's say you're a church, and you have 3x Shure SLX mics in the L4 - 638–662 MHz band - for the pastor's lectern, the guest speakers mic, and a floating mic. These can't be used in the future. So, you want to move them to the G4 - 470–494 MHz range. BUT, you already have your choir and wireless mics/in-ear monitors for the band in this range. There isn't any more room there.
There is hope though. The technology of wireless communications is evolving like everything else. Companies are able to fit more channels in less space. Frequency ranges previously not fully utilized are becoming in-vogue again. Antenna distribution systems allow flexibility unheard of in years past.
Furthermore, several of our manufacturers (such as Audio-Technica, Samson, and Sennheiser) are implementing trade-in plans for your 600 MHz gear in order to ease the prices of upgrading.
Dale Pro Audio has been selling, configuring, and supporting wireless audio technology since, well, there first WAS wireless audio technology. We've helped outfit venues that range from small live clubs to elegant cathedrals, to the largest of sports arenas, and everything in between.
Our RF Solutions Group can work with any budget, meet any challenge, and get your operation up and running without any hassle on your end. Our solutions will be easy to understand, easy to maintain, and we will ensure they'll be as future proof as possible.
It is important to have an understanding of the RF situation in and around your working environment. Using a tool known as a Spectrum analyzer you can accurately get a good picture of what space is available to be utilized for your mics, IEM, intercom, etc. Dale offers spectrum analysis services, and during this crucial period, we can offer 100% credit of the analytical fee ($500) towards a purchase at Dale within 30 days of the analysis. We will come to your facility and analyze what frequencies are in use, available, saturated, you want to stay away from, to help you plot your course forward.