The FCC unanimously voted to adopt an Order prohibiting the “manufacture, import, sale, lease, offer for sale or lease, or shipment of wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary stations intended for use in the 700 MHz band.” The prohibition becomes effective upon publication of the Order in the Federal Register. The FCC also established June 12, 2010, as the date by which such unlicensed devices must vacate the 700 MHz band, although they may have to move earlier if notified by a 700 MHz licensee. Any operation of an unlicensed device must stop immediately if it causes harmful interference to a 700 MHz commercial or public safety licensee. Clearing the 700 MHz band is an important component of the Digital Television Transition, allowing wireless licensees to roll out new communications services, including those based upon fourth-generation technology, without fear of harmful interference.

The FCC is requiring manufacturers and retailers to provide “clear notice to consumers about the basic terms and conditions under which they may use wireless microphones and how they may find out more information.” The FCC also is launching a consumer outreach plan to help consumers determine if they may own unlicensed devices that operate in the 700 MHz band and whether they can be returned to different frequencies.

A Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking accompanied the Order, which seeks comment on whether wireless microphones should be allowed to operate on an unlicensed basis in the TV bands. The Further Notice also seeks comment on proposed technical standards for “wireless audio devices,” which includes wireless microphones.