New Wireless Microphone Complaint and Petition
This week the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition filed with FCC a complaint about the massive marketing of wireless microphones to users who could not legally use them - creating de facto allocations and service rules without the benefit of policy deliberations and consideration of the long term implications.
This petition results, in part, from some work I did for the New America Foundation, a PISC member. The concepts are also related to my March 10, 2008 post entitled "Wireless Mics are a Legitimate Use of Spectrum:They Deserve More from FCC than Benign Neglect that Allows Most Users Only Criminal Spectrum Squatting".
The basic points of the FCC filing are:
• Begin an investigation against Shure, Inc., and the other manufacturers listed in the informal complaint, for willfully and knowingly marketing and selling wireless microphones to unauthorized users for ineligible purposes in violation of Part 74, Subpart H, and for engagingin deceptive advertising practices designed to persuade ineligible users such as houses of worship, theaters, corporate event venues, and members of the general public that they could legally purchase and operate wireless microphones operating on vacant broadcast UHF Channels without a license and for purposes prohibited by the Commission;It has always amazed me that in a law and order-oriented Republican administration this lawless behavior has been tolerated even when it involves the illegal and dangerous use of public safety spectrum. (In the case of immigration reforms, don't most Republicans think that those who have violated the law should not be given amnesty and should go to the "back of the line" with respect to benefits? In this case, the "liberal" members of PISC are at least consistent with the liberal view of immigration issues. It will be interesting to see how Republicans view the issue.)
•Grant a general amnesty to all unauthorized users of wireless microphones deceived by the
illegal and deceptive marketing of manufacturers, permit use of the illegal equipment on a
going forward basis until the Commission authorizes the proposed GWMS, and require those
manufacturers that engaged in illegal marketing to migrate the unauthorized users of Part 74,
Subpart H equipment to the new GWMS by replacing equipment authorized for Part 74,
Subpart H with equipment authorized for use in the GWMS;
•Immediately reclassify all licensed wireless microphone systems operating pursuant to Part 74, Subpart H as secondary to all advanced wireless service (AWS) and public safety systems authorized to operate on television Channels 52-69 following the shut off of analog television transmission;
• Order that manufacture, sale, and advertisement for sale of wireless microphone systems operating on channels 52-69 cease immediately; and
• Create a new “General Wireless Microphone Service” (GWMS) licensed by rule pursuant to Section 307(e) to operate on vacant broadcast UHF channels below Channel 52 on a secondary basis to broadcast licensees and individually licensed wireless microphone systems, and authorized on a primary basis to operate on the 2020-25 Band currently authorized for broadcast ancillary service (BAS) and under consideration for reallocation in Docket Nos. WT 07-195, WT 04-356 (“AWS-2/AWS-3 Proceeding”).
Indeed, it is amazing that this complaint comes from PISC, not CTIA or its cellular behemoth members that have recently spent billions for the spectrum that Shure encourages their customers to use and not from APCO that hounds the FCC for more spectrum but has ignored protecting the spectrum from such intruders. (While there may not be a documented case of wireless mic interference to public safety in the FCC records, we all know that public safety systems frequently have marginal repeater coverage inside buildings. (Remember what happened at the World Trade Center when the firemen couldn't get receive the order to evacuate?) When the downlink signal is marginal, small cochannel signals can easily cause interference. So CTIA and APCO members might want to ask their trade associations why they have been ignoring this spectrum squatting for so long.
Discussion in Harold Feld's blog including exchange with Henry Cohen, an engineer active in Broadway use of wireless mics.
Chicago Tribune story. Includes this discussion of Shure's views,
Did it ever occur to Shure to ask FCC to change its rules rather than selling hardware to users who use of it would be in violation of criminal law and might endanger public safety where the FCC's tolerance of interference risk is rightfully near zero?
Shure spokesman Mark Brunner said the company is aware of the potential interference problem from the digital transition and hasn't sold products for that spectrum since late 2007. [Wow - they stopped in the past year. Maybe they finally read something in USA Today about the 700 MHz auction! Maybe news travels slowly "outside the Beltway? What have they told customers that bought this equipment? The world wonders. - MM]
As for the broader issue of how so many unauthorized users were allowed to purchase wireless microphones, Brunner said technological advances and market practices of the last several years simply overtook the outdated FCC rules.
"Those rules were written several decades ago, when wireless microphones were a bit more crude than they are today. … Over time, no interference complaint has really resulted," Brunner said. "The technology got better and more industries decided they were interested in using these products. … The rules were never really updated to reflect that."