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The Federal Communications Commission yesterday adopted new rules to address the long-term needs of wireless microphone users by providing for continued access to the 600 MHz band and expanding access to other bands.

Wireless microphones play an important role in enabling broadcasters and other video programming networks to cover breaking news and live sports events. Wireless microphones also enhance event productions in a variety of settings – including theaters and music venues, film studios, conventions, corporate events, houses of worship, and Internet webcasts.

Most wireless microphones today operate on unused spectrum in the frequencies currently allocated for TV broadcasting. Wireless microphones also operate in other bands, both on a licensed and unlicensed basis, depending on the particular band. Following the incentive auction – with the repacking of the television band and the repurposing of current television spectrum for wireless services – there may be fewer frequencies in the television bands available for use by wireless microphone operations.

Specifically, the new rules:

  • Provide more opportunities for licensed use in the remaining TV bands by allowing greater use of the VHF channels and permitting co-channel operations inside DTV contours without coordination if TV signals fall below specified threshold;
  • Expand eligibility for licensed use of the 4-megahertz portion of the 600 MHz duplex gap to include all licensed users in the TV bands (broadcasters, cable programming networks, movie studios, and operators at major sporting/concerts/theater venues); and
  • Provide new opportunities for these licensed wireless microphones to operate on a secondary basis in three additional spectrum bands, consistent with the Commission’s spectrum management goals – (1) access to significantly more spectrum in the 900 MHz band; (2) access to a portion of the 1435-1525 MHz band at specified times and places, subject to coordination requirements that protect critical aeronautical mobile telemetry; and (3) access to portions of the 6875-7125 MHz band.

Together with the rules adopted by the Commission today regarding unlicensed use of the 600 MHz band these new rules provide for efficient sharing of these bands to accommodate various wireless microphone users, while continuing to protect the licensed users of each of the bands.

Action by the Commission August 5, 2015 by Report & Order (FCC 15-100). Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, and Pai; Commissioner O’Rielly dissenting in part.


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