FCC Changes

Last year, the FCC made some big changes that will affect the wireless belt packs and receivers that we currently use as part of our sound system and so we are going to need to purchase upgraded ones in order to comply with the new FCC rules.

All wireless microphones work by sending a signal from a pack worn on the performer to a receiver that is connected to the Sound Board where a technician is able to amplify and apply effects to a sound (within reason – but that is a conversation for another day) These signals travel over a designated frequency that is regulated by the FCC. This is so that devices and organizations that communicate in the same way don’t interfere with each other – it’s why our microphones aren’t picked up on the police scanners and vice versa even though they are right across the street. Your cell phone, tablet and other devices also communicate via these frequencies. And given the ever-growing popularity of wireless devices the FCC last year sold the 600MHz band of frequencies to various wireless providers, like T-Mobile and Verizon. Unfortunately, this is the band of frequencies that many wireless microphones use, and the deadline to stop using them is 2020 – or until the new owner builds a tower to start using the frequency in your area. We need to replace our belt packs and receivers with FCC compliant versions as soon as possible.
The cost of these changes will be just under $20,000. If you would like to help us raise these much needed funds please consider attending one of our fundraiser events, or donate directly


What brought about these changes to the 600 MHz band?

Congress authorized the FCC to use incentive auctions as a means to free up spectrum in the 600 MHz band for wireless broadband use. Bidding in the broadcast television spectrum incentive auction concluded on March 30, 2017. On April 13, 2017, the FCC announced the results of the auction and the repacking of the TV spectrum. One result of this auction and repack is that the use of wireless microphone systems in much of the 600 MHz band will eventually not be permitted. For additional information, please visit the FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction page.

If I have a 600 MHz wireless system, do I need to switch to a new system immediately?

Depending on your location, you may be able to use your 600 MHz system until summer of 2020. However, in some situations you will be affected sooner. In some locations auction winners will be able to register and start testing or using spectrum as soon as they are ready. There is no way to predict when that will happen. However, in those instances, wireless microphone users will have to cease operation in those specific frequencies. You should take this into consideration as you plan your purchases and budget for new wireless systems.

Key dates:

  • October 13, 2018 – you can no longer buy, rent or sell equipment that function in 600 MHz service bands
  • July 13, 2020 – transition period is over and new operating rules apply.

The frequencies that we use in our area were purchased by T-Mobile. If you would like more information on their timeline and progress check out this site: http://www.spectrumgateway.com/600-mhz-spectrum


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