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Since June 12, 2010, the use of wireless microphones, wireless in-ear monitor transmitters, wireless instrument pick up systems, cueing, com and and interruptable fold back systems that operate in the 700MHz band (698MHz to 806MHz) has been illegal in the United States and you may be fined up to several thousand dollars by the Federal Communications Commission if you are caught interfering with the communications of any of several different corporate or governmental entities.

Background​

In 1996 The United States Congress passed The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which set in motion the transition of television broadcast from the traditional analog system to an advanced digital system. The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act was singed into law in February 2006 and required that television broadcasters vacate the “700 MHz band” (698 to 806 MHz, analog TV channels 52 through 69), and set 17 February 2009 as the final date by which they should vacate this radio spectrum. The DTV Delay Act of 2009 pushed this date back to 12 June 2009.

The use of wireless microphones is regulated by the FCC under Part 74 Subpart H: Low Power Auxiliary Stations (74.8xx) of The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47.

FCC document FCC 08-188: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order was released on 21 August 2008 and indicated that they planned to restrict wireless microphone usage to below 698 MHz. FCC Document 08-260A: Second Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order was released on 14 November 2008 and stated that the Federal Government would not allow wireless microphones (which they call “low power auxiliary devices”) to operate in the “700 MHz band” after the final DTV Transition (12 June 2009).

On 14 January 2010 the FCC adopted FCC document FCC 10-16: REPORT AND ORDER AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING that established 12 June 2010 as the date by which they will not allow wireless microphones to operate in the 700MHz band. After this date, NO wireless microphones, wireless in-ear monitors, or wireless com systems will be allowed to operate in the United States.

Why this affects Wireless Microphones​

Wireless microphones operate in the “white spaces” between unused TV channels. The FCC calls devices that operate in this radio spectrum “TV Band Devices”, or TVBDs. Much of the radio spectrum recently vacated by the television broadcasters was either sold at auction to commercial wireless providers for use in expanded broadband data, internet, and television service to end users, or was set aside for use by public safety operations. The new lessees of the “700 MHz band” are the ONLY entities legally allowed to broadcast in that frequency spectrum. This means that ALL wireless microphone, wireless in-ear monitor, and wireless intercom systems MUST move to other parts of the radio spectrum where the FCC has allowed their continued use as unlicensed auxiliary services.

Although most have now ended, some manufacturers may still be offering a trade in program to trade your old 700MHz equipment in for a discount or rebate when you buy new equipment in the proper RF spectrum. You will have to check with the individual manufacturers to get more information.

These rules only apply to the United States and her Territories. You will have to check with the proper agency in each country to find out what their rules are regarding the use of wireless microphones. Although I have heard from colleagues up north, that Canada is working on similar legislation that will mirror that of the US.

Further Reading​

FCC: Operation of Wireless Mics in 700MHz Band

http://www.fcc.gov/telecom.html

http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/public-safety-spectrum/700-MHz/

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-188A1.pdf

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-260A1.pdf

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-16A1.pdf

RF Spectrum Update by Sennheiser
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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The good news is that your wireless mic will continue to work for a couple years in rural areas until Verizon Wireless and ATT finish building out their 4G networks. Verizon launched service in the top 38 market in the US at the end of 2010. ATT plans to launch later this year and has started powering up basestations, so if you live and work in a major city, you're probably already wondering why your mic isn't working as well as it used to.
 

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The good news is that your wireless mic will continue to work for a couple years in rural areas until...
The bad news is that it's still illegal. It's probably not the best practice to go around encouraging people to violate Federal laws on a public internet forum.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Agreed. I work for a large cellular infrastructure manufacturer and have frequent conversations with the FCC on the subject. If you're a stationary club or other venue with a 700MHz wireless mic system you're likely to get caught. If you're a sole agent gigging in a different place every night (or couple) the odds of getting caught are very slim and the practicality of the matter is that people will continue to use these things until they don't work -- which won't be very much longer.
 

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I'd be interested in a list of wireless mic options that are legal, or the ones still being sold that aren't - whichever is shorter.
 

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Just another bit of good news...

Anything new on the market by now should be legal. Mics you buy off eBay may not be, and probably aren't.

That said, all "white space" devices, including wireless mics, will probably have to conform to still evolving FCC regulations that may include being able to talk to 8 national databases on which UHF frequency they can use at the time and location.

This is an evolving discussion at the FCC and in Congress, so be aware that anything you buy today may have to be replaced in a few years.
 

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I'd be interested in a list of wireless mic options that are legal, or the ones still being sold that aren't - whichever is shorter.
If you follow the first link in the OP above, to the FCC website, there is another link titled [Manufacturers and Equipment List:] that will take you to a list of prohibited models. They don't list the AMT stuff that is popular around here, but that may be a rebadged product manufactured by someone else.

And yes, the first beta test of the whitepsace devices databases has begun. But that only covers non-700 Band devices. Everything in the 700 Band is still illegal. It is going to be a rocky few years as this all gets sorted out and new technology come to market to deal with this increasingly crowded RF landscape.
 

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And all this is actually a boon to mic manufacturers because many people have their knickers in a twist and feel they have top go out and buy a new relatively expensive system.
I do like the notion above that a stationary club or venue may not want to continue use, but for the rest of you vagabonds, use it until it doesn't work.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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It's all about iPhones and Androids. The g'ment wants to find 500MHz of of available spectrum to auction off to the carriers (part of balancing the national debt) so that our precious iPhones operate as designed.

What's your preference? YouTube on your smartphone, keeping the lights on (your electric utility wants it too for SmartGrid), or your wireless mic? Which are you willing to give up?
 
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