Churches Alerted to FCC Ruling on Wireless Microphones

Church of the Brethren Newsline
June 11, 2010

Church congregations are being alerted to a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibiting the use of wireless microphones in the 700 megahertz bandwidth. The prohibition goes into effect tomorrow, June 12.

An action taken by the FCC earlier this year will prohibit the use of all wireless receivers in the 700 MHz frequency range. The FCC has reassigned that frequency range to be used for public safety and emergency communications by groups such as police and fire departments.

“When these microphones were first designed, the frequencies they used were in between the frequencies that television stations used to broadcast television programs,” said a release from the FCC. “With the completion of the digital television (DTV) transition on June 12, 2009, television stations no longer use the frequencies between 698 and 806 MHz (the 700 MHz Band) for broadcast. These frequencies are now being used by public safety entities (such as police, fire and emergency services) and by commercial providers of wireless services (such as wireless broadband services).”

Examples of devices affected by the ruling include wireless microphones, wireless intercoms, wireless in-ear monitors, wireless audio instrument links, and wireless cueing equipment. Wired microphones and other devices with cords are not affected.

Churches and other organizations that use wireless microphones or other wireless receivers are encouraged to check their equipment to find out if it falls within the 700 MHz range. If so, the equipment must be either “rebanded” or reconfigured, or replaced by new equipment in a different frequency range.

At least one Brethren congregations has been taken off guard by this ruling. For example, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., only learned of it last week and has discovered that all six of its wireless microphones must be replaced at a cost of $3,500 according to Nevin Dulabaum, Brethren Benefit Trust president who also volunteers as sound coordinator for the congregation. However, Highland Avenue also has learned that it may receive several hundred dollars of rebates for its replaced equipment.

“In all that I have read, and with all I have spoken, there is no ability not to comply,” Dulabaum said. “These frequencies are going to be used by emergency traffic and simply cannot be used by others.”

After presenting a proposal to the church board, Dulabaum had the new equipment for his congregation ordered by Thursday morning this week, and expects delivery today. “We won’t miss a Sunday without our wireless mikes,” he said. “Equipment vendors have known of this problem and are prepared to ship new units very quickly.”

A number of manufacturers are offering rebates for a limited time for organizations that must replace their wireless microphones. Churches may check with sales representatives of the companies they use to replace their microphones in order to learn more about the rebates.

For the FCC’s release about the new ruling, go to . The web page also features a link to a manufacturers’ equipment list.

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