The FCC last week launched a system to register specific venues on the East Coast where unlicensed wireless microphones are used in the TV bands database system to protect the mics from harmful interference emanating from unlicensed wireless devices operating on unused TV channels, commonly called “white space devices.”
The agency’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) said Sept. 19 that system allows qualified parties in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina to register “major event/production venues” in the TV bands database to protect users of unlicensed wireless mics and other low-power auxiliary devices at specific times from white space devices that otherwise might use the same frequencies in proximity to those venues.
According to a public notice announcing the launch, concentrating the initial registration effort on the East Coast will give the agency a way to validate the system and ensure that it is working 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,” the notice said, adding the agency anticipate doing so later in the fall.
The notice identifies some of the venues that might qualify for unlicensed wireless mic use during particular events, including Broadway theaters in New York City, the Kennedy Center, FedEx Field, or the National Park for the Performing Arts at Wolf Trap in the Washington, D.C., area.
The notice only covers certain unlicensed wireless mics and auxiliary devices. Licensed operations already can be registered directly with one of the TV bands database administrators. Among the unlicensed uses covered are major sporting events, live theatrical productions and show, and “major events where large numbers of wireless microphones will be used and cannot be accommodated in the available channels.” Before users of unlicensed wireless mics can register in the database, they must first file a request with the commission to register and prove they are qualified for registration, the notice said.
The venue, an event coordinator or the microphone users are qualified to submit registration applications. Those who wish to register a qualified venue must certify they already use the two channels in the UHF band near channel 37 that the commission set aside for wireless mic use and those channels that aren’t available to white space devices at the venue.
In announcing the launch, the agency noted that “the overwhelming majority of unlicensed wireless microphone uses do not qualify for registration for database protection.”