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Shure Petitions FCC for Dedicated UHF Channel for Wireless Mics

Shure SM58 Wireless mic
(Image credit: Shure)

Shure has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reverse its recent decision and ensure that at least one “vacant” 6MHz UHF channel is designated in each market for wireless microphone use. The FCC recently terminated the “Vacant Channels” rulemaking that was opened during the 600MHz incentive auction and declined to authorize a dedicated UHF TV channel for wireless microphone use. Shure disagrees with the FCC conclusions and rationale for terminating the proceeding and has asked the Commission to reverse the decision.

Shure’s petition argues the wireless microphone community needs clear spectrum now more than ever, as the 600MHz band has been reallocated to mobile phone use and the DTV repack has moved many TV stations into the 500MHz spectrum. At the same time, broadcast, performance, and sporting productions continue to demand more channels of wireless microphones than ever before.

The “alternative” frequencies identified by the FCC in 2017 for wireless microphone use at 900MHz, 1.4GHz, and 7GHz fall far short of addressing the needs of wireless microphone users. These bands do not have the same characteristics and operational flexibility as UHF frequencies. Because these bands are occupied by licensed users in other industries, access to these bands for wireless microphone use is conditioned on sharing requests, which can be lengthy and ultimately denied.

The 600MHz duplex gap and VHF frequencies offer interference and other considerations that constrain use. Together, these other spectrum resources are helpful, but are not practical alternatives to UHF, and the certainty of having access to at least one vacant UHF channel is important to meet demand for wireless microphone use. The designated UHF channel would also be important for applications that include intercom, IFB, and others.

This is essential for industries that rely on wireless microphones such as sports, broadcasting, performing arts, entertainment, houses of worship, education, and recording artists. These organizations rely on open and clear spectrum for microphones, in-ear communication devices, cue and control devices, and equipment controlling devices. Every professional sports game, concert, live TV production, theater performance, and more relies on open and clear spectrum to maintain production quality. Without it, production integrity can be compromised.

“The amount of available UHF spectrum for wireless microphone use continues to shrink,” said Ahren Hartman, vice president, Corporate Quality, Shure. “With the loss of 700MHz, 600MHz, and the DTV repack into 500MHz, we are at an all-time low for access to UHF spectrum. However, the need for open and clear wireless microphone spectrum is higher than ever before.”

Shure, and its allies, believe the FCC should consider the current spectrum concerns of wireless microphone users and designate for wireless microphone use, a vacant UHF channel in each U.S. market wherever possible.