New FCC regulations affect wireless sound systems

Photo by Arthur Miranda on Unsplash

If your church uses a wireless sound system, check to see on what frequencies the microphones are running. You can do that by asking the sound person or looking at the band itself. If the microphones have a 600MHz (megahertz) band running in the 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz frequencies in particular, then you must cease using it by July 13, 2020.

It is recommended that you not wait to cease using these microphones because the band is already being used by the new owner of the bands. That means interference will happen sooner than you think. Wireless microphones are already prohibited from operating in the 700 MHz band, which is reserved for public service entities such as police, fire and emergency services, as well as for some commercial wireless broadband service providers.

How do I know what megahertz my wireless microphone operates on?

  • Look in your device’s manual or call the manufacturer to find out which frequency that it’s being run on. 
  • Go to this website for a picture guide to find the frequency band on your wireless mic.

What do I do if my microphones operate on the 600MHz band?

  • Replace the microphones with ones that operate on other bands like 900 MHz for large venues or 2.4 GHz for smaller venues. 
  • But think ahead and consider upgrading upgrade to a digital microphone system. They can be encrypted for security system and less likely to experience interference. You can work with a A/V integrator, they can work with you and make recommendations for you to make sure you have the right microphones that will work with your existing sound system. 
  • Check to see if any manufacturers are offering a special rebate program. Some of them are offering rebates to users who trade in an old system and purchase a new, compliant one.

What do I do if my microphones do not operate on the 600MHz band?

  • Carry on. You can keep your microphones.
  • But if you are looking to upgrade your microphones in the future, it’s a good idea to switch to a digital microphone system since that is the direction sound systems are going in the future. 

Why is this happening?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had an incentive auction on April 13, 2017 in which wireless carriers acquired a lot of bands of spectrum. Now they are limiting which bands that wireless microphones can run on so that it doesn’t cause interference to the new spectrum licensees. Prior to the auction, the 600Hz was licensed for broadcast TV and microphones. Now cellular wireless carriers bought this band in order to test and build their 5G network.  

Source: Federal Communications Commission