700 MHz and Wireless Mics
Now that the DTV transition has turned out to be "Y2K-like" moment rather than a "Hurricane Katrina-like" moment it is time to get on to other issues that have been ignored for too long. Historians can address the question of what would have happened if the transition had happened in February as originally scheduled and how good or bad a job the Martin chairmanship did in preparation.
On Saturday, Acting Chairman Copps said, "Job One in the coming days and weeks is to help restore service to those consumers who may still be experiencing difficulties."
Let me respectfully disagree. Chairman Martin minimized non-DTV spectrum policy issues during his tenure and only addressed them when forced to by Congress. Thus there was a backlog by the election. Then Sen. Rockefeller urged FCC to focus on DTV after the election and almost everything else came to a halt. It is time to start a reasonable transition to start addressing issues other than pure DTV. So in this post and the next one I will review two DTV transition-related issues that have been ignored in the rush to June 12.
FCC still has not evicted wireless microphones from the 700 MHz band as was proposed in Docket 08-167 (certainly later than it should have been.)
Let me be specific here. On June 14, 2 days after the DTV transition, I attended an affair at the Madison, Wisconsin Hilton Madison Monona Terrace hotel. I noticed a wireless mic was in use and during a break I checked it out. It was an Audio-Technica model, FCC ID: JFZT52B. The operating frequency was marked as 744.85 MHz The chart below shows the significance of that number:
This is the former TV channel 59. However, due to inaction in Docket 08-167, continued sale and use of this unit by Part 74 licensees is perfectly legal! Now hotels are not eligible for Part 74 licenses so their use was illegal, but FCC has "turned its blind eye to this issue for at least a decade.
Recall Auction 49? Check the chart below:
The band that includes 744.85 MHz was auctioned off by FCC in 2003 with full access after the DTV transition. Are the licensees happy?
If you think the wireless mic manufacturers are taking steps to get their customers, who may have bought new equipment as recently as 2 years ago, to vacate 700 MHz then look at teh following snapshot of Shure's press releases as of June 12th:
See any guidance on vacating 700 MHz at any time?
Let's resolve these issues now by acting on Docket 08-167! May I also suggest that the enforcement issues involved be resolved by signing consent agreements with Shure and Audio-Technica to set aside any enforcement issue for their aggressive merchandising to users ineligible for licenses if they promptly start a public information campaign to expedite departures from 700 MHz, offer credit to 700 MHz equipment users with recent equipment, and make direct mailings to all known users from warranty information databases.