Are the Wireless Microphones In Your House of Worship Illegal?
New FCC Frequency Changes May Make Your Church Microphones Illegal to Operate
In your house of worship, perhaps the last thing you worry about is wireless microphones. You have them as a tool for your church audio system, and your only concern is that they work correctly. But there's an FCC ruling from July 2020 that you may not know about, and it might affect your system.
How does this ruling affect church audio systems, and what do you need to do? Please keep reading below to learn more.
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Over time, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) allocates frequencies in the airwave spectrum for certain types of devices and communication. The explosive growth of mobile communication over the past 20 years has led to more apportionment of the spectrum to cellular providers. Too much use of a band leads to jammed frequencies and poor connections. To ease mobile communication, the FCC reclaimed the 600-698 MHz band and auctioned it off to cellular operators like AT&T and T-Mobile.
The problem? Many wireless microphones in houses of worship operate in that band. These bands are also used in TV transmission, so interference could affect TV channels as well. In fact, after July 2020, operating microphones in that band is illegal! Does this mean you will be visited by federal marshals? Not likely, but a very real issue might be that continuing use of these microphones will likely be marred by interference from newer cell phone radios now using the band.
How Can You Tell What You Have?
Most equipment has some labeling for the frequency range they utilize, or it is in the documentation or manual, whether on paper or in electronic form. If your microphones do not operate in that 600 - 698 MHz band, you don't have to change anything. If they do, some wireless microphone systems are programmable to use other bands not affected by this ruling. Again, you can check your systems documentation or online manufacturer support sources.
What Should You Do?
Dealing with microphone frequencies and audio systems is likely not your priority, so you can call a commercial audio integrator to look at what you have. You may be able to reprogram your microphones for a different band. Even in higher available bands, some are still reserved for specific communication. For some time, equipment manufacturers like Shure were offering rebates for trade-ins of older systems for newer models. Your audio integrator can also help find those opportunities or suggest the most cost-effective replacements to meet your needs.
Whitaker Technologies is your local audio expert serving Greater Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore areas. We provide AV and technology design and installation services for residences, commercial spaces, and houses of worship. For help with your church AV needs, call (609) 932-4368, contact us here, or click the button below to connect with us right away. We look forward to working with you.