FCC To Explore New Wireless Microphone Technologies


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FCC has launched a proceeding to consider allowing Wireless Multi-Channel Audio Systems (WMAS) — an emerging wireless microphone technology that would enable more microphones per megahertz of spectrum.

It’s an efficiency the Commission believes “can greatly benefit music venues or convention centers with multiple performers or speakers.”

Television broadcasters should take note of this proposal.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted Thursday (4/22) by the FCC seeks public comment on allowing WMAS on a licensed basis in frequency bands where wireless microphones already are currently authorized, including the TV bands, the 600 MHz duplex gap, and in portions of the 900 MHz, 1.4 GHz, and 7 GHz bands.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also explores using this technology on an unlicensed basis.

WMAS technology is already permitted in Europe under the applicable European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards.

WMAS allows microphones to operate using wider bandwidth channels than the Commission’s rules currently allow by digitally combining multiple microphone signals.  The technology also uses a more efficient operating protocol, which results in a larger number of wireless microphones being able to operate in the available spectrum.

The proposed changes, the FCC explains, are not intended to impact incumbent spectrum operations that share spectrum bands with wireless microphones.

Rather, the proposed rules would amend the Commission’s Part 74 licensed radio device rules—technically called low-power auxiliary station (LPAS) devices—to support efficient use of the spectrum and implement interference protection standards.

The NPRM also seeks comment on whether the Commission should also permit WMAS to operate on an unlicensed basis under the FCC’s Part 15 rules.

— RBR+TVBR Washington Bureau