The Federal Communications Commission on November 4th, 2008, voted to allow technology companies like Google, Microsoft, Dell, and Motorola to produce "white spaces" devices that will use the same radio frequency (RF) spectrum now being used by wireless microphone systems. Final text of the rules is not yet available, but the order is purported to greatly reduce the amount of clear spectrum available for use by professional audio and communications equipment.
The Commission adopted certain important elements of Shure's recent wireless microphone interference protection plan. However, Shure is concerned that, despite technical evidence to the contrary, the Commission's action opens the door to a new breed of wireless gadgetry that relies on unproven technology as a safeguard against interference to wireless microphones. Shure is also concerned that the Commission did not reserve an appropriate number of channels for flawless operation of wireless microphone equipment and did not address several important issues necessary to ensure a robust geolocation-based database for protection of large scale events, as the Company had proposed.
"While not unexpected, today's FCC decision will greatly complicate the lives of wireless microphone users across the United States and negatively affect tens of millions of Americans listening to live and broadcast events," says Mark Brunner, Shure's Senior Director, Global Public and Industry Relations. "In over four years of activity, including numerous written comments, technical submissions to and meetings with the FCC, Shure has highlighted that wireless microphones, monitor systems, and intercoms are essential production tools in modern music, theater, broadcast, sports, corporate, hotel, convention, education, and house of worship environments. Often supported by their representatives in Congress, these communities have voiced their concerns throughout this proceeding.
"It is worth noting that in just the past week, over 50 members of Congress including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D, NY) and voices as significant and diverse as Pastor Rick Warren, Dolly Parton, Guns N Roses, the Grand Ole Opry, the Shubert Theater Organization, Harrah's Entertainment, the American Federation of Musicians, the Country Music Association, The Recording Academy, the NFL, NASCAR, the NBA and other major sports leagues among many others—called on the FCC to protect their ability to communicate with their numerous and diverse audiences through wireless microphones. Unfortunately, even a chorus this strong could not alter the vote."
"While we have several options regarding our next steps, Shure's first obligation is to its customers," says Sandy LaMantia, Shure President and CEO. "In anticipation of this ruling, Shure has been working diligently on technologies and technical support programs that will enable wireless microphone operators to be successful in a more complicated interference environment. Shure has been the leader on the "white spaces" issue and we will continue to lead in the wireless microphone area going forward.
"Although the outcome is not ideal, we are thankful for the outpouring of support for our initiatives from thousands of individuals in the arts and the audio production community. Additionally, we are grateful for the backing of many members of Congress, particularly Congressmen Bobby Rush (D) and Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois, who have taken a strong leadership stance on the protection of incumbent operations. Without these voices, the importance of wireless microphones and related audio equipment may have been completely overlooked in this proceeding."