600 MHz Spectrum: A Quick Update

Somewhere out there you may not have noticed that the FCC has once again sold off a bunch of spectrum. They had such fun during the last sale, they just couldn't help themselves. We've done a few podcasts on this already, but there is a little new information I thought would be helpful to get out there. 

Being dealers, we just received this notice from Shure. This notice comes down from on high—which means it came from the FCC. This little ditty is supposed to be put at any point of sale of wireless equipment. It's instructive, strangely enough. 

This particular wireless microphone device operates in portions of the 617-652 MHz or 663-698 MHz frequencies. Beginning in 2017, these frequencies are being transitioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the 600 MHz service to meet increasing demand for wireless broadband services. Users of this device must cease operating on these frequencies no later than July 13, 2020. In addition, users of this device may be required to cease operations earlier than that date if their operations could cause harmful interference to a 600 MHz service licensee’s wireless operations on these frequencies. For more information, visit the FCC’s wireless microphone website at www.fcc.gov/wireless-microphones-guide or call the FCC at 1- 888-CALL-FCC (TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC).

The key takeaways are this: If you have any wireless equipment operating pretty much anywhere above 617 MHz, you need to begin making plans to replace it. At the very latest, you'll have to shut it down permanently on July 13, 2020. However, I've heard from multiple sources that the new owners are so excited to try out their new spectrum that they will be firing stuff up as early as this fall. 

In the past, we've had a little more time to transition, but this time, if a wireless carrier fires up something at, say, 625, and you start causing them interference, you will have to shut down. More likely, they will be causing you interference and you'll need to move or shut down anyway. 

Given that the wireless manufacturers are once again offering some decent rebates to trade in your 5-year old wireless gear that you bought when the 700 Mhz band was sold off, I wouldn't wait too long (most rebates go through year's end). 

This is likely to happen again in a few years, so I would recommend you cut down your wireless channels to the absolute bare minimum and go as low as you can go frequency-wise. Those in urban areas will probably feel this before those in the country do, but know that this is coming, and you're going to have to come up with a plan. Hopefully you've been listening to CTW over the last year as we've given you fair warning. 

So, there you go. Your friendly wireless spectrum update for August 3, 2017. Enjoy an interference-free weekend (while it lasts!).