Don’t throw out your wireless microphones yet.
With the shift of the nation’s broadcast communications from analog to digital early indications were that wireless microphones might become outdated or even illegal.
A Federal Communications Commission official told the Biblical Recorder Feb. 17 that rules were still being written to address those issues, even though Feb. 17 was the original day the switch was to be made.
The national switch deadline for switching to digital broadcast is now June 12. Television
stations in some smaller markets made the switch by the original deadline and there will be a “rolling” switchover, said the official who spoke only on condition that he not be identified.
He said rules governing the digital channels that microphones would use will be finalized “soon,” which he defined as “in the coming days and weeks.”
The background: Signals broadcast through the air occupy a specific band or channel. Digital signals can be compressed much more efficiently and they occupy less air space, or fewer channels. Consequently, a national switch to digital opens space into which will slide new commercial and public digital services, including “interoperable” radios that will put fire, police, rescue and emergency response services on equipment through which they can talk with each other.
Large scale disasters revealed catastrophic inability for response teams to communicate and coordinate.
While television stations occupied the spectrum in channels 2-69, the digital compression is packing them into channels 2-51. Now new services and the interoperable systems will locate in channels 52-69, the empty space in which many church wireless microphone systems lived. The government auctioned that air space for $20 billion.
Church microphone systems will need to find a home in channels 51 and below, and that availability varies city by city, depending on what other services are there.
It actually is not the microphones that will be out of date, but the transmitters that send the signal to the amplifier. Some can be reconfigured. Others will be no good. You will have more flexibility if your equipment is new or high end.
The manufacturer should be able to tell you, as well as help you with what channels are vacant in your area, the FCC official said.
Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina Baptists’ largest church and host to many statewide events, fears it will have to replace $30,000 of equipment. Pastor Stephen Rummage said he intends to donate any suddenly outdated equipment to churches on the mission field where they will still be perfectly usable. The church will assist other congregations who would like to send their cordless microphone systems to churches or missionaries overseas. Contact Hickory Grove’s creative communication office at (704) 531-4074.