What churches must do by June 12—and why
By Tyler Charles
Churches, businesses, and other organizations that use wireless microphones operating in the 700 MHz band (698-806 MHz) must stop doing so by June 12, according to a decision last month by the Federal Communications Commission.
Many churches own wireless mics in the 700 MHz band ("Understanding New Wireless Microphone Restrictions," May/June 2009, Your Church) and continue to operate them, even though the FCC's digital television transition last year signaled a ban to that activity eventually would come. The FCC estimates that 25 percent of wireless mics operate in the spectrum, meaning thousands of churches likely are affected.
Ever since the FCC auctioned off the rights to the 700 MHz band in 2008, it was only a matter of time before the new owners (Verizon and AT&T, among others) would receive sole access to the sections of the spectrum for which they paid billions of dollars. These frequencies will be used (and in some cases, are already being used) by public safety agencies and next-generation (4G) wireless devices.
The FCC says it is ready to help organizations affected by the changes.
"We're doing everything we can to notify as many of these organizations as possible," says Matthew Nodine, chief of staff for the FCC's Wireless Communications Bureau.
For users who are unsure whether their devices need to be replaced, the FCC compiled a list of affected devices: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/wirelessmicrophones/manufacturers.html. Users with further questions can call 1-888-CALL-FCC. The FCC recommends contacting the manufacturers with any technical questions, Nodine says.
Churches who don't comply face fines. Those that do comply likely face the cost of buying new equipment, although some may find low-cost—or no-cost—solutions in the short term if they can live without a wireless setup.
The key, microphone manufacturers say, is that churches shouldn't wait to act, since June 12 is a firm deadline, and problems likely will emerge even sooner.
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