Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

DTV Transition Delayed (Again)

Honestly, I’m getting tired of blogging about this. So tired, in fact, that I ignored it for a week hoping it would change and I wouldn’t have to. So far, that’s not happened. Here’s a quick update. The House & Senate have both passed a bill, which the President has signed that will now delay the mandatory end of high-powered analog TV stations until June 12, 2009. Since this has been dragging out for 8 years, I guess they figured another 4 months wouldn’t hurt. On the other hand, I’m not sure how it helps. Be that as it may.

This ruling poses several interesting challenges for wireless mic users. First, it may lull some into thinking they have more time to get out of the 700 Mhz spectrum. It doesn’t. Second, since some stations will cut off their analog stations on Feb 17 anyway, it’s going to be confusing for a while until the dust settles and we see what is still on and what is off.

Third, and most worrisome is that while there are still going to be some TV stations broadcasting in the 700 Mhz spectrum, the new owners of that RF space really want to start playing with their new toys. As of this writing, AT&T and Verizon have said they will, out of courtesy, hold off on doing anything with it until June 12. Qualcomm has essentially said, “Whatever,” and planed to start using their space. However, Congress stepped in and passed a law that essentially keeps them from using their space until June 12, so we dodged a bit of a bullet there. 

Finally, and this is the wild card, are White Space Devices. These devices are going to be operating in the so-called “White Spaces” between TV stations. In a given market, there are only so many TV stations, and the spectrum in between them (where we’ve been operating our wireless mics) is now up for grabs. There is some good news; these White Space Devices or WSDs, will use a geolocation database to avoid interference with know wireless mic installations (provided you register), and are supposed to sense other devices operating nearby and avoid those frequencies. So far, the “sense and avoid” strategy has failed 50% of the time (or more) under real-world conditions, however. This means you’ll really want to register with the database once it gets built. Not timeline on that from our good friends at the FCC (shocking–I know).

There you have it. That’s what we know right now. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If it doesn’t absolutely need to be wireless, consider going wired. You’ll be glad you did. At least until the dust settles. In the meantime, be very careful about your frequency selection, and get out of the 700 Mhz band ASAP.

10 Comments

  1. chris@behindthemixer.com

    I think I have a solution to the wireless devices from inside the church. Explain to the congregation that due to the way the FCC has designed new guidelines and the new technology installed, that anything they might email, twitter, or chat via their wireless devices will be broadcast on the church’s big projector. Then fake a demonstration. I don’t think they would try any of those devices after that!

  2. chris@behindthemixer.com

    I think I have a solution to the wireless devices from inside the church. Explain to the congregation that due to the way the FCC has designed new guidelines and the new technology installed, that anything they might email, twitter, or chat via their wireless devices will be broadcast on the church’s big projector. Then fake a demonstration. I don’t think they would try any of those devices after that!

  3. crissniemann@gmail.com

    Great synopsis of what we are currently facing – but we should be careful to point out the WSD (white space device) database. There have been no rules put into place with this database. All we know is that wireless microphones are supposed to have access to it. Originally (and currently) the intent of the database is to provide two things. 1) Supply info of known broadcasts (like TV channels) so that WSD’s will avoid those channels. 2) Provide “protected” space for some period of time in addition to already protected wireless channels for events where additional space is needed. The Super Bowl would be one of many examples where several hundred wireless transmissions are used. Extra “protected” white space will be needed for events like this.

    I do like Chris Huff’s solution! Boy, that’d get some attention!

    The reality is that we don’t know much of anything beyond there is going to be a database. Exactly how it will be used, who/what has access to it, and for how long your “registered” device will be listed has yet to be determined.

  4. crissniemann@gmail.com

    Great synopsis of what we are currently facing – but we should be careful to point out the WSD (white space device) database. There have been no rules put into place with this database. All we know is that wireless microphones are supposed to have access to it. Originally (and currently) the intent of the database is to provide two things. 1) Supply info of known broadcasts (like TV channels) so that WSD’s will avoid those channels. 2) Provide “protected” space for some period of time in addition to already protected wireless channels for events where additional space is needed. The Super Bowl would be one of many examples where several hundred wireless transmissions are used. Extra “protected” white space will be needed for events like this.

    I do like Chris Huff’s solution! Boy, that’d get some attention!

    The reality is that we don’t know much of anything beyond there is going to be a database. Exactly how it will be used, who/what has access to it, and for how long your “registered” device will be listed has yet to be determined.

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Excellent points, all, Criss. Being a government venture, the things we can count on with the database are these: It will likely not use the latest technology, will be difficult to use and will not be available in time. Oh, and it will cost 4x what it should. Other than those minor points, we should be good! This seems to fall under the “Fire, Ready, Aim” policy the FCC has taken with regard to this issue. When it comes to this stuff, it’s really anyone’s guess–including the FCC’s!
    Thanks for reading!

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Excellent points, all, Criss. Being a government venture, the things we can count on with the database are these: It will likely not use the latest technology, will be difficult to use and will not be available in time. Oh, and it will cost 4x what it should. Other than those minor points, we should be good! This seems to fall under the “Fire, Ready, Aim” policy the FCC has taken with regard to this issue. When it comes to this stuff, it’s really anyone’s guess–including the FCC’s!
    Thanks for reading!

  7. jcsoundguy@gmail.com

    wrist slitting starting soon… πŸ™‚

  8. jcsoundguy@gmail.com

    wrist slitting starting soon… πŸ™‚

  9. imeemalabonga@rocketmail.com

    great article! but hey, what are we gonna do. in the end, this is something that is beyond our control, i believe. the government pushed for a delay, some stations still pushed for the switch to happen.

  10. imeemalabonga@rocketmail.com

    great article! but hey, what are we gonna do. in the end, this is something that is beyond our control, i believe. the government pushed for a delay, some stations still pushed for the switch to happen.

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