In March of 2016, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) began the reverse and forward auctioning process to acquire spectrum from television stations in order to open more space for the ever-growing wireless needs, especially in rural areas, in the US. The FCC was granted authorization to proceed with this plan in 2012 and hopes to have it completed in 2020. From start to finish the stations will have had 39 plus months to prepare, plan and act on how they would like to proceed, but knowing how this shakes down for your wireless microphone frequencies could have you needing to make some changes. Here are four keys facts you need to know about the coming changes:

  1. What is spectrum and why are they selling it?

    Sometimes we can get bogged down in the jargon and complicated world of the FCC, so let’s make sure we understand the terms being used. All wireless communications (radios, cell phones, garage door openers, wireless mics to name a few) travel over radio frequencies called spectrum. In our ever-growing, tech-enjoying world, the spectrum space has been getting more crowded as our favorite devices enjoy the frequency real-estate. In an effort to make more room available, the FCC created a reverse and forward auction plan to reallocate the spectrum.

  2. Who does this impact?

    Since the FCC decided on a reverse and forward auction plan, this impacts many in the wireless, communications and television (et. al) industries. Those who have anything running on the affected spectrum will need to plan on making changes between now and 2020, which is when the FCC hopes this change will be finalized. Specific to microphones, any wireless mic running from 614 MHz through 698 MHz of spectrum will need to expect to make the appreciate changes or face losing their frequencies.

  3. I’m in the 600 MHz spectrum; what do I do?

    Finding yourself in the affected spectrum means you will have no choice but to make changes as you will lose the ability to use your equipment once the FCC finalizes their plan. This makes right now a great time to start making a plan for a seamless transition to a new wireless mic system.

  4. What does the FCC timeline look like?

    As with any project there is always delays and things you don’t expect, but so far things have been fairly on track for the FCC. They recently closed the 4th (and final) stage of the auction. The next steps forward (as of March 2017) will be to wait for the new assignments that the bidders won in January and February of 2017. As we all wait for the dust to settle from that, the FCC hopes to announce new channel assignments (most likely around April/May 2017). From there, there will be a 39 month transition period and by 2020 the spectrum will be resettled.

The technology that we’ve all come to enjoy, that makes life a little easier and entertaining, hasn’t come without growing pains. Maybe the idea of having to make some mandatory changes in the coming years isn’t very exciting, and chances are there will be more changes like it as the need for wireless space increases. The good news is that as the space is freed up the technology only gets better, and as the technology gets better, the better the options are for your wireless mic’ing needs.

Are you in the 600 MHz spectrum? Feel free to contact us to talk about what your upgrade options could look like. We’ve been installing music systems since 1962 and work hard to find the right fit for our customers.