FCC Releases NPRM on Wireless Microphones Operating in 700 MHz Band

August 21, 2008. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order [24 pages in PDF] regarding "broadcast low power auxiliary stations" operating in the 700 MHz band, such as wireless microphones. See also, FCC release [PDF].

This spectrum is currently occupied by television broadcasters as TV Channels 52-69, but is to be reassigned to commercial and public safety wireless operations.

The NPRM portion of this item states that "we tentatively conclude to amend our rules to make clear that the operation of low power auxiliary stations within the 700 MHz Band will no longer be permitted after the end of the DTV transition because such operations could cause harmful interference to new public safety and commercial wireless services in the band."

It also tentatively concludes "to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale, offer for sale, or shipment of devices that operate as low power auxiliary stations in the 700 MHz Band."

In addition, "for those licensees that have obtained authorizations to operate low power auxiliary stations in spectrum that includes the 700 MHz Band beyond the end of the DTV transition, we tentatively conclude that we will modify these licenses so as not to permit such operations in the 700 MHz Band after February 17, 2009."

The order portion of this item states that "we impose a freeze, effective upon release of this Order, on the filing of new license applications that seek to operate on any 700 MHz Band frequencies (698-806 MHz) after the end of the DTV transition, February 17, 2009. In addition, we impose a freeze on granting any request for equipment authorization of low power auxiliary station devices that would operate in any of the 700 MHz Band frequencies."

The NPRM also requests comments on the July 16, 2008, Informal Complaint and Petition for Rulemaking [55 pages in PDF] of the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition (PISC).

This filing complains about the products and advertising of certain manufacturers of wireless microphones.

It also requests the FCC to create a new General Wireless Microphone Service (GWMS), "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)".

The PISC has no web site. Its petition was filed by Harold Feld and Andrew Schwartzman of the Media Access Project (MAP).

The FCC's NPRM and Order states that the PISC consists of the Cuwin Foundation, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Consumers Union (CU), Educause, Free Press (FP), MAP, National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), New America Foundation (NAF), the Open Source Wireless Coalition (OSWC), Public Knowledge (PK), and USPIRG.

Initial comments will be due 30 days after publication of a notice in the Federal Register. Reply comments will be due within 45 days of such publication. As of the Friday, August 22, 2008, issue of the Federal Register, such publication had not taken place.

The FCC adopted this item on August 15, 2008, but did not announce or release it until August 21, 2008. None of the five Commissioners of the FCC released statements. This item is FCC 08-188.

The NPRM and Order states that it was issued in WT Docket No. 08-166 and WT Docket No. 08-167. In contrast, the FCC release states that this item was issued in WT Docket No. 06-150, MB Docket No. 87-268, ET Docket No. 01-75, and PS Docket No. 06-229.