What You Need to Know About the FCC Incentive Auction
Learn more about the ongoing FCC Incentive Auction and how it may affect your wireless systems.
Broadcast Incentive Auction and Post-Auction Transition
On March 29, 2016, the FCC commenced the first-ever “incentive auction” designed to repurpose spectrum for new uses. The incentive auction offers broadcasters an opportunity to voluntarily give up spectrum in return for a share of the auction proceeds, hence the term “incentive auction”. This auction is sometimes referred to as the “600 MHz Auction” because the frequencies offered at auction start at 698 MHz (currently the top-end of the UHF TV band) and move down from there.
Most wireless microphones that operate today use spectrum in the TV bands. As a result of the Auction, the amount of TV band spectrum available for wireless microphone use is decreasing. A significant portion of the TV band spectrum in the 600 MHz band, including most (but not all) of the spectrum on TV channels 38-51 (614-698 MHz), has been repurposed for the new 600 MHz service band for use by wireless services, and will not continue to be available for wireless microphone use.
How will the FCC Incentive Auction affect my wireless systems?
As a result of this auction, spectrum on most 600 MHz frequencies – specifically the 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz frequencies – has been repurposed for the 600 MHz service for wireless licensees. The spectrum that is used by these 600 MHz service licensees will no longer be available to wireless microphones in the coming years, as discussed below. All wireless microphone operations in the 600 MHz service band must cease no later than 39 months after the close of the incentive auction, which is July 13, 2020.
How can I transition my system to comply with these new regulations?
As part of the FCC’s commitment to the wireless audio community, new spectrum opportunities are being investigated, providing users with reliable options to maintain operations. Many wireless microphone manufacturers have already begun expanding product offerings to take advantage of other frequency band options, such as 900 MHz and VHF versions of ULX- D and QLX-D, GLX-D in 2.4 GHz, and Microflex Wireless in 1.9 GHz. With the incentive auction reaching a final stage, we now know the UHF TV band of the future will be 470 MHz to 608 MHz.
McCann Systems can help navigate through these complex regulations and keep your systems FCC compliant. Contact us today.