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Yesterday, someone posted in a Facebook group I belong to this article: TV White Space Radio System Approved by the FCC for Sales in the USA.

The article discusses the advances in wireless broadband internet broadcasts, and the frequency ranges that this affects. Basically, they’re discussing upcoming additional traffic in the 470MHz to 698MHz range, which happens to be exactly where almost all wireless microphone systems in the US operate.

Now, this isn’t the first FCC allocation that has affected this industry, with 2010 still somewhat fresh in many audio technician’s minds. But what does it mean for you now? First, an excerpt from the article:

RuralConnect delivers unprecedented broadband connectivity by utilizing “TV white space” frequencies, 470 to 698 MHz in the USA, with superior signal propagation characteristics. These vacant UHF TV bands – hence the term ‘TV white spaces’ (TVWS) – were recently opened by the FCC for free, unlicensed public use, a major development that holds great promise for bringing broadband internet to long-underserved rural and remote populations.

Sounds pretty daunting, right? Well, maybe. After reading this, I got in touch with my guys at Sennheiser, and after a few hours of email tag, received this response last night:

“Yes, this is true.  TV Band Devices (TVBD), also known as White Space Devices (WSD), are one of the upcoming technologies which the 700 MHz Digital Dividend made a reality.  They operate just as wireless microphones do, using white spaces.  These devices are mainly targeted at bringing broadband internet access to rural areas.

If preventing local wireless microphone interference is a concern, operators can utilize the designated TV channels for wireless microphones and/or register with Spectrum Bridge (
www.spectrumbridge.com)  when and where wireless microphones are to be operated.  In each local market, the FCC has allocated two TV channels which TVBD are not allowed to operate on.

The good news is that these devices are mainly operated in rural areas, hence the availability of spectrum should be greater than in densely packed metro areas due to the fewer terrestrial TV stations.  I am copying [name withheld] on this email, as he is very familiar with the changing RF landscape in the aftermath of the spectrum auction, and may have additional pertinent info.”

So, there’s a good chance it won’t affect you. There’s a good chance that if it does, you can proactively do something about it. Basically, if your living revolves around your A, B or G block wireless kits, I’d recommend checking out the Spectrum Bridge site, and generally keeping an eye on this story for now, but I wouldn’t worry too much.

EDIT: I received this additional response today from a Sennheiser lobbyist for Washington, D.C. –

As [retracted] pointed out, there are currently two TV channels in each market reserved for mics that can’t be used by Carlson’s product and other forthcoming white space devices.  These are the channels all mic operators should use first.  If more are required (for example if operating more than 16 mics or monitors), additional channels can be reserved for performance times by:

1) licensed users (broadcasters and content creators) through direct access to the database system.
2) unlicensed users can request access to the database system from the FCC, 30 days before their performances begin.
Spectrum Bridge is one of the four approved databases.  More will be available.  You only need to register with the one of your choice. They are all linked and will reflect valid registrations system wide within 15 minutes.