FCC shoos away 700 MHz squatters


The FCC didn’t so much cancel plans to discuss the use of unlicensed devices in the 700 MHz band from next week’s January Open Meeting as render the agenda plank moot. It did so by simply going ahead and adopting an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking prohibiting the further distribution and sale of devices that operate in the 700 MHz frequency.

Wireless microphones are said to be one of the primary applications that will be affected by the action.
The FCC is clearing out the band of spectrum, which was turned in by television broadcasters as part of the DTV transition, and turning it over for public safety use. Clearing the area will also allow deployment of 4G wireless devices aimed at consumers.

The FCC is giving those operating in the band until 6/12/10, the first anniversary of the transition, to find new “appropriate frequencies” in which to operate.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski explained the full scope of the action. He said, “Today the Commission is taking necessary and essential action to complete the digital television transition, by requiring wireless microphone users to exit the 700 MHz Band by June 12, 2010. Our decision will accelerate the buildout of 4G wireless networks, and will prevent interference with first responders who rely on the 700 MHz Band for mission-critical communications.

“In order to ensure that existing microphone users are aware of the June 12 deadline and their role in the transition, the Commission will also implement a major consumer outreach program, including a consumer-friendly Commission webpage on wireless microphones. The Commission is also requiring—for the first time—that manufacturers and retailers of wireless microphones provide clear notice to consumers about the basic terms and conditions under which they may use wireless microphones and how they may find out more information. Finally, the Commission is seeking comment on the long-term status of wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary stations.”