Over the past months a growing number of customers have contacted Shure Distribution UK seeking information on what spectrum will be available for wireless microphone and IEM (In Ear Monitor) users in the future. This document will try and answer the most common questions as best we can with the latest information available to us.
What frequencies are affected?
As a result of OfCom’s Digital Dividend Review (DDR), there will be major changes to available spectrum for wireless microphones and IEM’s. The changes affect 550-606MHz (TV Channels 31-37) and 790-862MHz (TV channels 61-69). These two blocks of spectrum will be auctioned and re-allocated to new services, most likely mobile broadband.
How much longer can I use these frequencies?
It is thought that all PMSE (Program Making and Special Events) equipment will have access to these bands until the completion of Digital Switchover (DSO) which is expected by the end of 2012. OfCom recently confirmed the availability of these bands including channel 69 for the London 2012 Olympics. OfCom also guaranteed UK wide access until at least July 1st 2012.
Which frequencies are available for PMSE use?
1.) Channel 38 (606-614MHz) has been officially announced by OfCom as the replacement for Ch.69 (854-862MHz). Channel 69 is unique in the sense that it is the only nationally available licensable band for wireless microphones and IEM’s. Currently, channel 38 is not available nationwide for two reasons:
a.) Radio astronomy holds the current license until Jan 1st, 2012, consequently creating “restriction zones” in parts of the UK. Ofcom recently announced that radio astronomy would be moving out of Channel 38 three months earlier than planned, on September 21st 2011.
b.) The protection of analogue TV broadcast in channel 37 in areas where DSO is not complete.
On Dec.15th 2009 , OfCom announced information on licensing arrangements for channel 38. This included for channels 39 and 40 to be made available on the same shared license until channel 38 becomes fully available nationwide. Availability will improve as DSO progresses and channel 38 should be available nationwide as of Jan. 1st 2012 if not earlier.
2.) 470-550MHz (TV Channels 21-30) and 630-790MHz (TV Channels 41-60) are available now and post 2012 for wireless microphones and IEM’s on an interleaved basis. Please contact JFMG (www.jfmg.co.uk) for availability and licensing information.
3.) The deregulated license-free spectrum from 863-865MHz remains untouched by DSO. If you are currently operating in this spectrum or use less than four channels you are free to carry on using this spectrum now and beyond 2012.