FCC Considers Allowing Wireless MIC Technology

Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began a proceeding to consider allowing Wireless Multi-Channel Audio Systems (WMAS). This is an emerging wireless microphone technology that would enable more microphones per megahertz of spectrum, an efficiency that can greatly benefit music venues or convention centers with multiple performers or speakers.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted 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 FCC Notice adopted at Open Commission Meeting proposes changes that are not intend to impact incumbent spectrum operations that share spectrum bands with wireless microphones.

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