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December 2017

The 600 Mhz band has been auctioned off. The cutoff date is in 2020, unless your usage causes interference to another whitespace device. Other spectrum space has been opened up for use and there is product available that takes advantage of that space.

FCC general info page about wireless microphones, their use, and links to other FCC documents. 

Report and Order, covering white space devices in the TV and other bands. 11 August 2015  READ THIS DOCUMENT

Report and Order 14-50: Reorganization of the UHF Band 
Report and Order 15-140: Discussion of secondary and unlicensed users vacating the 600mHz band. 
Public Notice of Incentive Auction Closing 13 April 2017 
Report and Order 15-100: Taking steps to accommodate long term needs of wireless microphone users. 11 August 2015 
Report and Order 15-99: Ammendment of Part 15 rules for unlicensed devices 
Part 74, Subpart H of FCC rules (LPAS rules) 
Licensing for LPAS users 

Get licensed

An FCC license can be obtained by any US citizen intending to operate within the US and its territories for a fee of $150. Filling out the application form is fairly complex and it must be letter perfect in order to be processed by the FCC. Two possible ways to get a license are to . . .

PAY A PROFESSIONAL TO FILE THE APPLICATION FOR YOU Bill Ruck, a Broadcast Engineer in San Francisco who holds Broadcast Auxiliary Low Power Radio Station Authorization WQMP992 and an FCC General Radiotelephone License, can prepare the application for you for a fee of about $100, plus the $150 filing fee. Bill is extremely knowledgeable about the application procedure and his services are highly recommended. Contact Bill at 415-564-1450 or

DO IT YOURSELF BY FOLLOWING THE STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS BELOW The instructions you can find by clicking the link should be sufficient for individuals who fit the most common profile of sound professionals in the motion picture and television industry. The guidance presented here is offered as a convenience to you but because circumstances vary and FCC rules change, we cannot guarantee that your application will be approved. (this is somewhat old, and may or may not still work)

Get Licensed 

Information beyond this point is left as historical background.

November 2014

Sennheiser has a useful page that outlines the broader issues that face wireless microphone users. Further, near the end of the document, they are promoting a petition to the FCC that provides for the auction winners in the coming whitespace auction to make payment to wireless microphone users who are displaced by their acquisition of spectrum space. On the surface, it sounds like a good idea, but it could also be construed as misplaced liberalism. Still, if you have gear in the 600mHz band, and it gets displaced by the auction, what are YOU going to do? Can you afford to just go out and replace it? click here 

October 25, 2014

The FCC has postponed the wireless spectrum auction (for the 600mHz band) until 2016 due to pending court challenge. click here 

September 30, 2014

The FCC lays groundwork for additional unlicensed use of TV band and 600mHz band spectrum. click here 

April 2014


The FCC has a further spectrum auction scheduled to take place sometime in 2015. In light of this, Sennheiser continues to file comments with the Comission. The website also contains a sample support letter that microphone owners can download and use to express their own views to the FCC. Sennheiser Update 

July 2013

The FCC's news bureau released a statement from Commissioner Ajit Pai on the current state of the record concerning the 600MHz band plan. It looks like another 100MHz of spectrum space is about to be made unavailable.

Commissioner Pai's Statement 

March 2013

From the FCC, information about the Universal Licensing System for unlicensed wireless microphone registrations. ClickMe 
This link leads to a text file that defines the SQL databases used for this information: ClickMe 

January 2012

From Shure: A TV band whitespace device has been approved by the FCC and released to the market in January 2012. ClickHere 

FCC Second Memorandum and Opinion Order

IF you use wireless microphones, the FCC released the Second Memorandum and Opinion Order  relating to the operation of unlicensed devices in the TV broadcast band, and other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. You should attempt to read the Memorandum (it's long) to understand how this affects you and your wireless

FCC Frees Up Vacant TV Airwaves for Super Wi-Fi

At the FCC site, look for: FCC Frees Up Vacant TV Airwaves For "Super Wi-Fi" Technologies and Other Technologies. 

The Future of Wireless Microphones 

Microsoft develops technology that allows wireless broadband and wireless microphones to coexist.

Our October 2011 meeting was devoted to learning about this development. See the video from the meeting by clicking this link. 

Ranveer Chandra, one of the presenters at our October Meeting published this paper, White Space Networking with Wi-Fi like Connectivity  in August 2009.

FCC Sends "Get Out Of The Pool" Notice - January 2010

The FCC has finally sent out their notice to all users of wireless microphones and/or other devices that operate in the 700MHz Band to stop operating this equipment by June 12, 2010. 
Statement from FCC Chairman Genachowski 

November, 2009

Are Your Wireless Mikes Legal? 

While the FCC hasn't sent out the "Get Out of the Pool Now" (GOOTP) letter yet, things are beginning to happen. Verizon  has been sending a generic GOOTP letter to some people; never by name, just a "dear sir" sort of letter. The link, above, is to a good article by Kevin Cobus that appeared in Tecnologies for Worship magazine. The error in the channel width for TV stations is noted. It should be 6mHz, NOT 6gHz.

You can find the latest info from Shure here.  This is a comprehensive document; recommended reading.

June 15, 2009

The Big Switch came and went. Here (Seattle), it seemed a non-event. KING TV5 got to be the nightlight station, with a continuous message running telling what to do if this is all the TV that you receive. The cable companies, since their signal is captive, didn't have to do much (apparently), and they can still broadcast using VST (vestigial sideband transmission, the $100 term for analog TV) since their signals are captive. There was a lot of confusion surrounding this, and Comcast seemed to be doing their best to compound and confound. Your webmaster got three of their "decoder" boxes, but with 2 TVs that aren't connected to the decoders, there seems to be minimal difference. Of course, who knows what Comcast has in mind for the future?

The 700mHz band is now off limits to wireless microphones, but it remains to be seen what people actually do about this. Consider the situation on the Citizen's Band (27mHz).

The last tally for the dollar amount raised in the whitespaces auction is just under 20 BILLION dollars.

Shure and Sennheiser are both offering some level of trade-in towards the purchase of new wireless gear. While it's better than a boot in the butt, it's a small comfort.

Microsoft has still not proven to the Commission's satisfaction that their proposed hardware can co-exist with wireless microphones without interference.

News (somewhat dated)

January 3, 2009 The FCC has released coverage maps for DTV stations with lines representing coverage before and after the DTV transition. Note that the coverage area simply means that this was the limit for some level of reception (Grade B contour). It must not be interpreted that there is no signal strength outside this line; i.e. trying to operate a wireless microphone on that channel outside of the coverage area is specifically not recommended. 
These maps would seem to be the definitive resource in determining which TV channels are not utilized in your local area. Be sure to read the report that accompanies these maps. 

Here are the coverage maps for Seattle-Tacoma  and Portland. 

May 16, 2008. The Grand Ole Opry, CMA, CMT, MTV and other Nashville-based music interests joined forces this week in an effort to stave off the efforts of manufacturers who are anxious to produce new television white space device, by filing a five-page letter of concern with the Federal Communications Commission. Read more. 

May 13, 2008. Motorola resubmits its whitespace device for further testing. Read more. 

May 6, 2008. Shure has filed a letter with the FCC specifically asking for more testing of non-wireless microphone devices, such as those proposed by Google and Motorola. These devices have failed in previous testing, and Shure is asking the FCC to require further testing, emphasizing that the Motorola proposal is still a "proof of concept." Read more. 

April 17, 2007. Read here  and here  two papers attempting to explain the new uses for the white spaces created after the DTV switch in 2009. Note, however, that there is absolutely NO mention of wireless microphones. It's as if they don't exist. Scary. Really Scarry.

Pacific Northwest-specific Information

Chart showing current and future whitespace for Seattle-Tacoma 
Chart showing current and future whitespace for Portland 
Page showing all Seattle area frequency assignments 
Page showing all Portland area frequency assignments 
Seattle-Tacoma coverage maps  and Portland coverage maps 

Shure Brothers

Shure's whitespace site 
Shure's FAQ 
Spectrum Change Overview 
Shure's Frequency Finder 
Shure's Wireless Workbench software (free). Does useful frequency coordinating function. 
Shure table showing how their wireless products use what parts of the spectrum. TV Channel vs Frequency info too. 

Federal Communications Commission

Excel Spreadsheet showing final USA channel assignments 
FCC homepage 
FCC Spectrum Task Force homepage 
FCC Office of Engineering and Technology homepage 
Unlicensed and Unshackled — Whitepaper on Unlicensed Devices 
FCC Spectrum Auction Band Plans 
Spectrum Allocation Chart — DC to Light 
Search for info about TV stations in an area 
FCC Rules, Part 74 (authority under which existing wireless microphones operate) 
FCC Rules, Part 15.219 (license-free operation in the AM broadcast band) 
Part 15.239 Operation in the FM broadcast band 
CFR-47 — FCC Rules 
700MHz Band Plan (pdf) 
Excel Spreadsheet showing final channel assignments 

Auction 73 / 700mHz band

January 24, 2008
News Article 
The FCC began the auction of the spectrum above 700mHz on 1/24/08. There are 1099 spectrum licenses and 214 registered applicants. The bidding lasts a month and the gummint expects to make 10 Billion ($10e9!) dollars from this. You can follow the action on the FCC's website:  Auction 73 (700mHz band)  Auction 73 Summary 

Final Results

As of June 15, 2009, the gummint made just under 20 Billion dollars from the sale of the 700mHz band.

Be Heard

If you're concerned about what may happen to your ability to use wireless microphones, in-ear monitoring, and other wireless devices after the DTV switch is thrown, do make yourself heard by your elected representatives. It is important to let both sides know your position (those in favor of opening up whitespace to other uses and those working to protect wireless microphone usage in whitespaces).

The FCC, when in the process of rulemaking, leaves a block of time open for public comment. If you have issues with their proposed rules, you (yes you) should make your issues known to them. There is a particular protocol for contacting them, and the website link further down this page will help you be successful in doing this.

The following representatives have legislation pending now, and need to hear your viewpoint:

Who State Position email link
Representative Jay Inslee, 1st Congressional District WA Wants FCC to allow new wireless devices to coexist with wireless microphones. Pushed for October 2007 adoption date (which won't happen now). Email Jay Inslee 
Senator John Sununu NH Pushing FCC for early adoption time for new wireless devices. S337 Email John Sununu 
Senator John Kerry MA Pushing FCC for early adoption time for new wireless devices. S234 Contact Senator Kerry 
Representative Ric Keller FL Supports wireless microphones and related uses. Contact Rep. Keller 
Senator Bobby Rush IL Supports wireless microphones and related uses. See H.R. 1320 Contact Senator Rush's very helpful page for contacting elected representatives 
How to file comment with the FCC 
Shure Press Release for HR 1320 

Back to AES PNW homepage 

Last modified 12/08/2017 9:40:4.