Technology Focus

Wireless microphones, ‘digital switch over’ and TV channel 38

Friday 21st March 2014

Wireless microphones, ‘digital switch over’ and TV channel 38

The UK Government’s DSO (digital switch over) schedule for television transmission resulted in many older UHF wireless microphones becoming unlicensable from January 2013. Many owners of wireless microphones that operate between 470 - 862 MHz may be unaware that there old products are no longer licensable and they may have to consider replacement. Digital switch over has allowed the Government to sell off parts of the UHF spectrum to other service providers. Wireless microphone licences will not be available for these frequencies and there is the possibility of interference. Some users may just have to retune their existing wireless microphones, while others may have to replace complete systems and antenna. HHB is able to discuss the options and help to identify the possible solutions.a

 

The available UHF spectrum for use by wireless microphones after DSO is as follows

 

550 - 606 MHz (TV Channels 31 - 37) - not available

 

606 - 614 MHz (TV Channel 38) - mobile licence for PMSE (Programme Makers and Special Events) *

 

614 - 790 MHz (TV Channels 39 - 60) - site licence maybe available

 

790 - 862 MHz (TV Channels 61 - 69) - not available

 

863 - 865 MHz (TV Channel ‘70’) - available and free to use without a licence

 

For convenience wireless microphone frequency ranges are referred to the equivalent television transmission channel. In Europe the first channel (TV Channel 21) is between 470 and 478MHz. * The UK Government has set aside 606 – 614 MHz (TV Channel 38) for wireless microphone/monitoring systems after DSO.

 

The following is a guide for different applications:

 

- ENG (electronic news gathering) and non-critical, small scale wireless installation

 

Including newsgathers, videographers, small scale media production, schools, village halls, etc.

 

If current equipment can operate between 863 – 865MHz, then it can be tuned to TV Channel 70 and no licence is required. TV channel 70 is suitable for users that don’t need more than 4 wireless microphones and can accept the risks of using the deregulated frequency range (there is a chance of interference from another TV Channel 70 users). The deregulated 863 – 865MHz band is ‘licence free’ throughout much of Europe.

 

However many users require greater security and decided to buy new TV Channel 38 products with a mobile licence.

 

- Small scale systems for PMSE (Programme Makers and Special Events)

 

Including PA hire, touring, conference companies and small scale TV/Film location. These tend to be organisations involved in temporary events at different locations, using less than 10 wireless channels.

 

Suitable frequency range and licensing - TV Channel 38 plus a mobile licence.

 

The mobile TV Channel 38 licence is on a ‘shared basis’ which means that it permits users to transmit in this frequency band anywhere in the UK. But the licence does not provide protection from other mobile licence holders, and there is the potential for interference when multiple licence holders operate in the same location. Licences are bought from www.jfmg.co.uk.

 

- Fixed and legally secure wireless systems with more than 4 wireless microphones

 

Typical customers include corporate offices, conference centres, theatres and TV studios.

 

As before, a facility can apply for a licence to operate wireless microphones at specific frequencies at a specific location. A licence can be annually, short term or temporary. After DSO, the most likely available bandwidth will be between 614 – 790 MHz. In this case the operator is protected from interference from other wireless users, as no one else can hold a licence to operate at the same frequency at the same location. Licences are bought from www.jfmg.co.uk

 

To find out more or request further information, please contact Andrew Hingley on +44(0)20 8962 5000 or andrew.hingley@hhb.co.uk.

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