TV white space rules prompt new wireless mic registration system

A new unlicensed wireless microphone registration system is aimed at protecting those devices from any interference caused by other devices operating in the TV white space spectrum located between unused broadcast TV channels.

Back in September 2010, the FCC approved the use of unlicensed TV white space spectrum in a 5-0 vote that came nearly two years after the agency first approved the use of the spectrum for wireless broadband applications. However, the original 2008 order was widely challenged by broadcasters, church groups and singer Dolly Parton, all of whom argued such use of the spectrum could interfere with TV stations and wireless microphones.

The new microphone registration system is a nod to those parties' concerns. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau said in a public notice that its new registration system will enable qualifying parties to register major event/production venues with the TV bands database systems so that operations of unlicensed wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary station devices at specified times will be protected from potential interference caused by TV band devices (TVBDs).

Spectrum Bridge and Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) Telcordia Technologies are the approved database administrators for unlicensed microphone registrations.

Registration of unlicensed wireless microphones is available only in certain limited cases, such as "major sporting events," "live theatrical productions/shows" and other "major events where large numbers of wireless microphones will be used and cannot be accommodated in the available channels," said the FCC.

Currently, the new system is registering venues in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

"Focusing registration at this time on one region of the country will enable us to validate that the registration system is working properly and qualifying operators can register their venues as intended. Once we determine that the system is functioning properly, we will open up registrations for all of the other regions of the country," said the commission, adding it expects to open up registration across the country later in the fall.

Wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary devices are allowed to operate on unused channels in the UHF and VHF frequency bands used by broadcast television (TV channels 2-51, except channel 37) on both a licensed and an unlicensed basis.

For more:
- see this FCC public notice
- see this MissionCritical Communications article

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