• Wireless Auction for Faster Kitten Videos?

  • By: Kevin Watson, CTS-D, AVL Engineer


    A pastoral friend posted an article on Facebook this week which brought up the issue many theater groups and high schools will be dealing with soon regarding wireless microphone frequencies.  He was asking for some clarification on how their church could be proactive for next steps if it affected them.  Then, a co-worker forwarded an article from the Indy Star regarding AT&T and their roll out of 5G around Indianapolis, and its effect on wireless microphones users.  These two closely-timed events spawned the idea of this wireless frequency update.

    The brief background is that in today’s world of wireless communication and the need for speed, wireless companies desire additional wireless frequencies to be able to “pump” more data from antennas to devices without interference and to be faster.  Therefore, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) sold off a chunk of the wireless frequency spectrum so that companies could own those frequencies, making it illegal for anyone else to use them.  This came at a cost of billions of dollars (wish I had some frequencies to sell!)  Once the companies won their frequencies in 2016, they could start implementing them with the expectation that all would be transitioned by July of 2020.  However, as the Indy Star article mentions, AT&T is rolling out 5G cellular antennas around Indianapolis now with the thought of providing amazingly fast transmission for future devices such as phones and self-driving cars.  With that said, the transition for some is coming sooner than later.

    So, now we will be able to download those cute kitten videos even faster while not paying attention in our cars!  For many that might be fine, but for anyone who uses a wireless microphone, in-ear wireless monitor systems, or wireless intercom systems, it might mean changing equipment before we transmit illegal signals in a frequency owned by others.

    Therefore if you are part of a school, a church, a corporation with an auditorium or lecture space, sporting events with referee mics, events with announcers, musicians, DJs of weddings, or the many other circumstances that use wireless audio systems, take a look at the following steps to determine what to do next:

    Look at your current wireless systems to find out the frequency range being used.

    1. Some are displayed on the front with a tag:
    2. Others may be on the back with other info:
    3. Others may not show anything, which means finding the model number and manual.
    4. Some are located in the battery compartment of the transmitting device.

    Decipher the range

    1. If the range only includes frequencies that are below 615 MHz, then go high five someone as you are fine for now!
    2. If the range includes frequencies in both the 500 and above 615 MHz, then you might be ok.
      • If you can fit the number of channels you are using into the 500 – 615 MHz frequencies and there aren’t others trying to use them, then you should be fine.
      • If you have too many channels you need to cram in, or are in a busy area, you might have some issues. Feel free to proceed to step 3
    3. If the range ONLY includes frequencies at or above 615 MHz, then the systems will need to be replaced. Take a deep breath, and proceed to step 3

    Give ESCO a call or send us an email! We can help you in the following ways:

    1. Confirm the need to change or how to best use the frequencies you have
    2. Find the best rebate program being offered by manufacturers (such as this from Shure, or this from Sennheiser, or this from Audio-Technica)
    3. Provide a quote for just the equipment or for our technicians to help install and coordinate the new frequencies.
    4. Include monthly financing if desired

    In the end, we understand this may affect many program’s budgets.  ESCO wants to help you find a way to get your venue up-to-speed and back to performing, announcing, or preaching to those who need to hear! To

    Kevin Watson is currently an AVL-Engineer for ESCO Communications and brings 12 years of experience in AV system design and acoustics. His certifications include a CTS-D (Certified Technology Specialist in Design) from Avixa (new name for InfoComm International) and an EIT (Engineer in Training) by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).