Marc Henshall,

What's Happening to the 700MHz Band of RF Spectrum?

Tuomo Tolonen, Pro Audio Group Manager at Shure UK, covers further detail on changes to the 700MHz space following recent announcements at the end of last year.

At the end of November last year, the World Radio Conference 2015 saw all major radio regulators gather to discuss the future of spectrum and how it should be allocated. The key focus at this year's event was the proposed reallocation of 700MHz for use by mobile data services.

Before we go into detail, here's a brief catch-up on where we're at:

In previous years, PMSE (Programme Making and Special Events) had access to a broad spectrum range from 470 - 862MHz. At the end of 2012, 790 - 862MHz (otherwise know as the 800MHz band) was auctioned for use by next generation 4G mobile services. Straight away, this change significantly reduced the amount of space available to wireless microphone users at a time where channel counts were growing fast.

...And here's the latest scoop:

At the recent World Radio Conference the discussion centred around what to do with a further block of spectrum from 694 - 790MHz (700MHz band). The committee concluded that 700MHz should join 800MHz as a dedicated space for next-gen 4G. The date for this switch is still unclear as any digital television channels operating in the 700MHz space need to be moved to the remaining 470 - 694 space. UK regulators, Ofcom estimate this process could be complete somewhere between 2019 and 2022. In the interest of production values, wireless microphone manufacturers and operators should be working to the 2019 date if they're to ensure a smooth transition.

The prospect we're facing going forward is a world where demand for wireless mics and in-ears is increasing, but the space available to operate them is decreasing. The graph below demonstrates clearly how wireless microphones will need to share a smaller amount of space with DTV than ever before. What's critical to understand, is that this will make operating wireless mics more difficult. To mitigate risk, we will have to get better at coordination, and we need to utilise new technology (such as digital wireless systems) for their spectral efficiency.


Signing off

We hope this instalment brings you a step closer to understanding the latest round of spectrum reallocation. To learn more, consider attending one of our Wireless Mastered or Wireless Workbench training sessions.

About the Author

Marc Henshall

Marc forms part of our Pro Audio team at Shure UK and specialises in Digital Marketing. He also holds a BSc First Class Hons Degree in Music Technology. When not at work he enjoys playing the guitar, producing music, and dabbling in DIY (preferably with a good craft beer or two).

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