Beware: Your Church Microphones May Be Illegal
I’ve compiled this article because I realize the average church has no idea this is about to take place.
Honestly, it’s already taken place.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently made changes, phasing out the 600MHz frequencies band. This could affect the wireless and in ear microphones in your church, and in some cases making them illegal to use. Churches that haven’t updated their wireless sound system in recent years may have trouble being heard on any given Sunday.
The increased use of cell phones means millions of people are now jamming the airwaves as they attempt to access the Internet. Because of this the FCC has re-claimed a band of airwave frequencies (614mHz-698mHz) and auctioned them off to cellular providers. T-Mobile bought 45 percent of the available 600MHz spectrum during a 2017 auction. This means we can no longer use wireless production devices like wireless microphones where frequencies range between 600-699 mhz.
The FCC stated that usage is permitted until July 13, 2020, unless the auction owner decides to start using this space. T-Mobile has already begun using this space and in some churches within the US, wireless microphones only get static because that space is in use.
After July 13, 2020, it will be illegal to use these microphones in the 600-699 MHz range. Some common problems you will face will be increasing interference, which may result in loud static or simply the microphone will shut down. Eventually, it will render the microphones useless. It is also possible that you may be subject to a fine, or legal charges.
Churches across the US are already replacing their equipment. In addition to churches, other industries likely affected by the FCC change include local theaters, schools, conference centers and sports stadiums.
Some of the major microphone manufactures (Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, etc) are offering rebates on new purchases for trade of your old equipment. Some of the rebates are expiring soon.
Please, beware of sellers on Ebay, Craigslist, and other Internet outlets selling used low priced wireless equipment in the 600-699 bandwidth. Always ask the frequency information prior to purchase. You can typically find the frequency (Mhz) information on your wireless receiver or on the battery compartment on the microphone.
There is more information on the FCC website if you search “wireless microphones.”