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APWPT, June 2014
Edgar Reihl informs on the present situation in the USA

APWPT, January 02, 2014
USA information pages has been updated
* Wireless Microphone Proceeding
* Bringing Wireless Audio Equipment to the USA

FCC Blog, December 6, 2013
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler mentions three key dates related to a new frequency auction:
1) Progress report: January 2014
2) Report and Order: spring of 2014
3) Auctions: mid-2015
The Path to a Successful Incentive Auction

FCC, November 8, 2013
Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now Program

BroadcastEngineering, August 20, 2013
House bill regarding wireless microphones enters subcommittee

BroadcastEngineering, August 19, 2013
News organizations urge FCC to preserve two wireless mic channels for each market

BroadcastEngineering, August 6, 2013
House bill calls for wireless mic safe havens

December 05, 2012
Current Regulatory Actions Affecting Wireless Audio in the United States

ProSoundWeb (9th March 2012)
Special Report: Wireless Interference Protections

Bringing Wireless Audio Equipment to the USA
(February 2012)

Legal framework for UHF White Space Applications
(December 2011)

PCWorld (11th February 2011)
Obama Goal: 98 Percent of US Covered by 4G Broadband

TVB (10th December 2010)
White Space Rules Go Into Effect Jan. 5, 2011

USA, December 05, 2012
Current Regulatory Actions Affecting Wireless Audio in the United States

EDN (30th October 2010)
White Spaces: Austere And Somewhat Unclear Microphone Embraces

Broadcast Engineering magazine (11th October 2010)
FCC white spaces ruling ensures protection for wireless mic users

Broadcast Engineering magazine (10th October 2010)
FCC TV band device Second MO&O reserves two channels nationwide for wireless mics

EDN (29th September 2010)
Whitespace, still a bad idea

Broadcast Engineering magazine (21st September 2010)
FCC set to approve use of unlicensed TV white spaces for broadband networks

The Hill (25th July 2010)
Rockefeller deals blow to FCC proposal

Rethink Wireless (24th July 2010)
T-Mobile extends HSPA+ to 50 cities

Broadcasting & Cable (21st June 2010)
FCC eyes satellite spectrum for mobile bandwidth

TMWorld.com: (18th May 2010)
FCC releases RF spectrum online tool

ExecutiveGov: (15th May 2010)
FCC Grants Building of Broadband Networks

ExecutiveGov: (14th May 2010)
FCC Reveals National Broadband Plan

Connected planet online: (5th May 2010)
Spectrum biggest issue in keeping public safety net costs down

EDN: (14th April 2010)
Industry praises FCC’s plan for broadband

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (9th April 2010)
Wireless mic leaders react calmly to FCC broadband plan

Digits: (9th April 2010)
FCC Takes a Jab at Verizon CEO Over Spectrum

Multichannel News: (9th April 2010)
FCC To Start Tackling Broadcast Spectrum Issues This Year

Multichannel News: (16th March 2010)
FCC Broadband Plan: Reactions Pour In

Bloomberg.com (15th March 2010)
Mobile-phone companies may be the biggest winners

Multichannel News: (15th February 2010)
FCC Wants Broadcasters To Give Back 120 MHZ As Part Of Broadband Plan

Multichannel News: (14th February 2010)
Broadband Plan: Spectrum Fees Could Be Extra Band-Clearing Incentive

FCC: (13th March 2010)
Broadband Infrastructure Policy for the 21st Century

BuisinessWeek: (11th March 2010)
The FCC National Broadband Plan: Long Haul Expected

Digits: (11th March 2010)
FCC Chair Suggests Agency Is Considering Free Wireless Internet

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (3rd March 2010)
FCC considers revised wireless microphone licensing scheme

REUTERS: (25th February 2010)
CORRECTED - UPDATE 3-U.S. eyes paying broadcasters for mobile spectrumier

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (24th January 2010)
FCC orders frequency changes for wireless microphones

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (24th January 2010)
FCC order clears 700MHz frequency

Multichannel News: (16th December 2009)
FCC Chairman Puts Focus On Spectrum

The Wall Stree Journal: (2nd December 2009)
FCC Seeks Revamp of Phone Subsidy

Multichannel News: (21st November 2009)
CTIA: Public's Interest Is In Getting Back Broadcast Channels

eWeek: (9th November 2009)
Spectrum Issues Loom over Wireless Broadband

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (8th November 2009)
Report proposes clearing spectrum of broadcast television service

Broadcast Engineering magazine: (8th November 2009)
Broadcast associations advise FCC on national broadband plan

Operators may not get LTE smartphones until late 2011 (8th April 2009)

Broadcasters Sue FCC Over White Spaces Decision (4th March 2009)

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Current Regulatory Actions Affecting Microhones

Current Regulatory Actions Affecting Wireless Audio in the United States

Update, June 2014

Edgar Reihl informs on the present situation in the USA

* On 15 May, at its regular monthly meeting the FCC adopted rules for the upcoming "Incentive Auction" of UHF TV spectrum

* The Report and Order was released on 2 June, 2014. The full text is available from the FCC web site at: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0602/FCC-14-50A1.pdf

* Wireless microphones will no longer have two reserved channels. However, FCC staff said that they expect there to be at least one unassigned channel in each market, which will be shared with unlicensed "White Space" devices (WSD). If there are additional unassigned channels, these will also be shared. Wireless microphones can register with a database to obtain priority access to these channels, as they do currently.

* In a related proceeding, the FCC proposed to expand licensing eligibility to include additional professional users who routinely need to use more than 50 microphones. The Order is available from: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0602/FCC-14-62A1.pdf

* Licensing is important because licensed users have priority access to register channels for protection in the database.

* Licensed wireless microphone users will be allowed to operate in a portion (perhaps 4 MHz) of the duplex gap.

* It is not known whether unlicensed microphones will still be able to register with a database as they do now. However, unlicensed wireless microphone operation will continue to be permitted.

* White Space Devices will be allowed to operate in the duplex gap and the guard band as well as Channel 37. In general, the amount of spectrum for WSD is expected to be significantly increased.

* There will be an additional proceeding to revisit the rules for WSD operation. The Commission indicated that this would be released sometime this summer.

* There will also be a separate proceeding to consider additional spectrum bands for wireless microphones. The co-channel distance separation requirements between television broadcasting stations and wireless microphones will also be addressed.

Update, January 2014

White Space Operation

The FCC has been studying White Space operation in the TV bands since 2004. Final Rules governing WSD operation were issued 23 September, 2010 ("Second Memorandum Opinion and Order") and subsequently modified slightly on 5 April 2012 ("Third Memorandum Opinion and Order").

At the present time, the FCC has approved two of the ten database applicants to begin operation; Spectrum Bridge and Telcordia. Additional operators are expected to apply for approval in the near future. Applicants must undergo a 30-day public trial period and address any issues that are raised during that time.

WSDs have only been authorized to operate in limited parts of the United States so far. Before general WSD operation could begin, the FCC had to finish setting up the unlicensed wireless microphone registration system, which was announced on 19 September, 2012. At this time, it is only available for use in the East Coast Region: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina.

In two separate but related matters, on 2 October, 2012 the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on "Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions" (Docket 12-268) and on 5 October it released a Public Notice seeking to "Update and Refresh (the) Record In The Wireless Microphones Proceeding (WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, and ET Docket 10-24).

TV Band Auction NPRM

The first item is a very complex proceeding that seeks to repurpose a large percentage of the remaining UHF TV spectrum and make it available for use by wireless broadband and other new services. To do this, the Commission plans to conduct a "reverse auction" in which current TV broadcasting licensees will bid on how much money they would accept to relinquish their spectrum and go off the air. They will also have the option to share a channel with other station(s) or accept a less desirable VHF channel. (Note that the American 8-VSB system permits up to 6 standard definition programs to be broadcast within a single 6 MHz channel, but it is susceptible to multipath and interference, particularly in the 54-216 MHz VHF band. For this reason, most broadcasters greatly prefer a UHF channel assignment).

After the reverse auction has been completed and the amount of available (reclaimed) spectrum has been determined, the Commission would conduct a "forward auction" of this reclaimed spectrum to interested bidders, which are seen to be primarily the large telecom companies. The final step would be to re-shuffle the remaining TV stations that would remain on the air, either because they chose not to give up their spectrum or because their bid was not accepted.

According to the FCC’s proposed band plan, a new uplink band would be created at the upper end of the UHF TV band, extending down from 698 MHz. It would be separated from the TV channels below it by a guard band that would be made available for use by White Space Devices. The guard band would be one TV channel (6 MHz) wide, plus the remainder spectrum left over from channelizing the uplink spectrum into 5 MHz blocks. For example, if three 6 MHz TV channels were reclaimed for uplink use (18 MHz), there would 3 MHz of remainder spectrum which would be added to the upper guard band.

A new downlink band would also be created, extending downward from Channel 37 (608-614 MHz), which is used by Radio Astronomy and Wireless Medical Telemetry. This channel would serve as the upper guard band for the downlink band. As for the uplink band, a new 6+ MHz lower guard band would be created just below the downlink band and it would also be available for use by White Space Devices.

The implications of this proposal on professional wireless audio systems operating in the UHF TV band are potentially very significant; first because of the overall reduction in the number of available TV channels including white space channels that are used by wireless microphones, and second because the FCC also proposes to eliminate the two wireless microphone reserve channels. In large cities where many professional productions are done using wireless audio equipment, there might not be any channels available in the future.
.

Future U.S. TV Band Plan

Wireless Microphone Proceeding

The second item is more directly focused on wireless microphones and covers issues involving licensing and technical rules. In the United States, the technical requirements for wireless microphones are incorporated directly in the FCC Rules, rather than being contained in a separate standard like ETSI EN 300 422. The Rules also establish who is eligible for a wireless microphone license. Currently, unlicensed operation is permitted at a lower power level of 50 mW. Licensed users may operate with up to 250 mW in the UHF TV band and 50 mW in the VHF TV band.

Somewhat unique to the United States, only holders of broadcasting station licenses and those engaged in professional movie making activities are generally eligible to obtain a wireless microphone license. Licensed users have direct access to register their systems in a White Space database to receive protection from interference. Unlicensed users, e.g. theatres, can obtain protection by registering with the FCC and applying for permission to register with a database. This process involves a public comment period and an extra 30 day waiting period, which is generally unworkable for professional users.

The FCC has proposed to modestly expand licensing eligibility and is seeking input on what the criteria should be. They are also interested in ways to encourage better spectrum utilization through improvements in spectral efficiency. It is possible that such improvements could be made mandatory at some point in the future. Related to this are potential changes to the technical rules for both licensed and unlicensed professional wireless audio devices.

Comment Dates

Originally, the auction proceeding and the wireless microphone proceeding had separate comment filing dates. However, the comment periods for both proceedings were extended and synchronized. The deadline for filing comments for both proceedings was 25 January, 2013 and the deadline for reply comments was 12 March, 2013. Wireless microphone interests filed comments asking for a modest expansion of licensing eligibility to cover professional operations.

The new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that a Report and Order on the Incentive Auction proceeding may be released in April of 2014, but so far there has been no indication of when the Wireless Microphone proceeding will be acted upon.

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Supported by Edgar Reihl

Bringing Wireless Audio Equipment to the USA

Are you bringing wireless microphones or in ear monitors into the United States for a production? If so, there are a few things that you should be aware of.

The first is that in order to be operated legally in the U.S., your equipment must be FCC certified. Transmitters should be marked with an FCC ID number, while receivers should bear an FCC Part 15 certification. Even though ETSI technical standards are generally more stringent than FCC Rule requirements, the FCC does not recognize them (and vice versa). Therefore, a CE Marking is not relevant within the United States. Of course, a product can be compliant with both European and FCC requirements and if so, it should bear both kinds of approval markings. Just as for Europe, the consequence of trying to bring equipment that is not FCC compliant into the U.S. is that it might be impounded by Customs officials. This is probably more likely if you have a large shipment of equipment that you want to bring in.

Wireless microphones and in ear monitors are now legally permitted to be operated on either a licensed or unlicensed basis in the United States within the UHF and VHF TV broadcast bands. There are some differences between licensed and unlicensed operation. The first is that generally, you would not be able to get a license unless you are a TV broadcast license holder or movie maker (see Section 74.801 of the FCC Rules). Licensed users may operate with up to 250 mW EIRP, while unlicensed users may only use up to 50 mW EIRP. This is not an issue for most wireless microphones, but some in ear monitor transmitters use higher power (e.g. 100 mW). The FCC has decided that you may legally use a 100 mW transmitter if you reduce the power to 50 mW, e.g., by using a passive attenuator at the output.

Another difference between unlicensed and licensed operation is that licensed users are entitled to priority access to database registration. If you have a license, you can register your microphones or in ear monitor systems with any FCC approved database operator, and you will receive protection right away (data should propagate to all databases within about 30 minutes according to the FCC). If you are unlicensed, you must request protection at least 30 days in advance.

In order to register unlicensed wireless audio equipment for protection from White Space devices, users must be prepared to:

1. Show that at least 6 wireless microphones, in ear monitors, or production intercom systems will be operating in each of the TV channels that are reserved or exclusively available for wireless microphone use at that location.

2. State which additional TV channels must be protected to accommodate the additional wireless systems that will be used at the event.

Requests from unlicensed wireless microphone users must undergo a public comment period before a reservation becomes effective. The FCC has stated that it is possible to change some administrative parameters of the request during this period such as the specific channels to be protected, if necessary. One example of something they do not allow is asking for more channels than originally requested. This would require a new application, and would also trigger a new 30-day approval period.

What channels can be used by wireless microphones? Legally, only those channels that are outside the protected contour of TV broadcasting and Public Safety stations at the location where the wireless microphones will be used. In the past, it was difficult to determine exactly which channels were available, although most wireless microphone manufacturers provided an online frequency finder application to help users do this. Now, you can find the available channels by going to the web site of any of the FCC approved database operators and entering the address or coordinates of your location. There are currently four FCC approved database operators; Google, Key Bridge Global, Spectrum Bridge, and iconnectiv (previously known as Telcordia).

There are two FCC designated channels that are reserved for wireless microphones and in ear monitors in each city in the U.S., although they vary from one location to another. These channels are already protected from white space device interference, so you do not need to register them (and in fact, will not be able to do so). In most locations there will also be one or more additional channels that are protected by FCC restrictions on white space devices. „Fixed“ white space devices are not allowed to operate on channels that are adjacent to TV and Public Safety stations, and „Personal/Portable“ white space devices may not operate below U.S. TV channel 21. Thus, if there are locally unused channels below channel 21 that are adjacent to either TV or Public Safety stations, they are already „off limits“ to white space devices and therefore do not need to be registered for protection.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a database registration is to provide protection from interference from white space devices. It does not serve as a frequency coordination service, although some database operators may offer this service at additional cost. Normally, you do not submit your actual operating frequencies to the database operator; rather, you request protection for those TV channels that you intend to use. Thus for example, if two wireless microphone users who want to operate microphones at the same physical location both submit registrations for the same TV channel(s), their submissions do not result in a conflict; they simply block that particular channel (or channels) from use by white space devices at that location.

When you register a location with a database, you will only receive protection for the dates and times you specify. In general, cannot request protection on a 24/7 basis unless the event requires it. The FCC has indicated that they will consider requests of that nature on a case-by-case basis.
You are required to certify that you are making efficient use of all of the channels that are already protected by default before requesting that additional channels be protected. The FCC expects that 6-8 microphones can be operated in each TV channel. Please refer to the discussion earlier about available channels.

For both licensed and unlicensed microphones and in ear monitors, the protection zone is the same. „Fixed“ white space devices are prevented from operating within 1 km of a protected location, while „Personal/Portable“ white space devices are prevented from operating within 400m. What this means is that when a white space device reports its location to a database, if it is closer than the above distances to a protected location, it will not be assigned a channel that has been registered with the database for use by wireless microphones and in ear monitors at that location.

This short paper is not intended to be an all-inclusive reference on the topic of wireless microphone operation in the United States. If you have a specific question that is not covered here, please contact me and I will be happy to help you.

FCC Resources:

FCC Help Page on Unlicensed Wireless Microphones:
http://www.fcc.gov/help/overview-unlicensed-wireless-microphone-registrations

FCC FAQ Page for Unlicensed Wireless Microphone Registrations:
http://www.fcc.gov/help/faqs-unlicensed-wireless-microphone-registrations

How to register unlicensed wireless microphones in the Universal Licensing System (ULS):
http://www.fcc.gov/help/steps-register-unlicensed-wireless-microphones-universal-licensing-system-uls

FCC FRN Registration Page (you must obtain an FRN before you can use the ULS):
https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do

FCC ULS License Manager Login Page:
https://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsEntry/licManager/login.jsp

White Space Database Operators:

Google: https://www.google.com/get/spectrumdatabase/

Key Bridge Global: https://keybridgeglobal.com/whitespace/

Spectrum Bridge: http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/Main.aspx

Iconnective (previously Telcordia): https://prism.telcordia.com/tvws/main/home/

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Supported by Edgar Reihl

FCC LEARN

FCC Learn Workshop to Discuss Unlicensed Spectrum Issues, (November 8, 2013)

"As part of its Learn Everything About Reverse-Auctions Now Program (LEARN), the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) hosted a workshop on Friday, November 8, 2013, to discuss unlicensed spectrum issues related to the broadcast television incentive auction proceeding. The workshop focused on the benefits and uses of unlicensed spectrum in the existing and future television bands white spaces and in the guard bands of the new 600 MHz band following the upcoming incentive auction, as well as technical questions associated with proposed unlicensed operations in the 600 MHz band.
"

Get further information here: FCC LEARN