The FCC announced today a new rulemaking proceeding designed to address the long-term needs of wireless microphone users. The new NPRM comes on the heels of the Incentive Auction Order, where the Commission decided to eliminate the current two reserved channels for wireless microphones. In a news release, the FCC acknowledges that “following the incentive auction . . . there will be fewer frequencies in the UHF band available for use by” wireless mics.
According to the Incentive Auction Order, broadcasters and cable programming networks will be permitted to operate licensed wireless microphones in a portion of the duplex gap. In addition, any user will be permitted to operate wireless microphones in the guard bands on an unlicensed basis. Wireless microphone users also will be able to operate on unused television channels and to register through the TV bands database registration system for protection from unlicensed TV White Space devices. As reported in a previous WileyonMedia blog post, the Radio Television News Directors Association and Sennheiser Electronic Corporation filed petitions for reconsideration of the Order on the basis of its treatment of wireless microphones.
The NPRM seeks a comprehensive review of the licensed and unlicensed wireless mic user needs and the “different technologies that can address them, including digital technologies.” The NPRM will seek comment on rule revisions in existing spectrum bands where wireless mics operate as well as authorizing wireless mic operation in additional spectrum. According to the news release, “the Commission intends to enable the development of a suite of wireless microphone devices and applications over the long term that can meet users’ needs efficiently and effectively.”