On January 15, 2010, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (R&O and FNPRM) regarding the use of wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary devices in the 700 MHz Band. The item represents one of the final regulatory steps to complete the clearing of the 700 MHz Band for new public safety and commercial uses.

In the R&O, the Commission took several actions to clear the 700 MHz Band:

  • As of the publication of the R&O in the Federal Register, the manufacture, import, sale, lease, offer for sale or lease, or shipment of wireless microphones or other low-power auxiliary devices that are intended to be used in the 700 MHz Band is prohibited;
  • All low-power auxiliary licensees (including licensees for wireless microphones) must cease operating in the 700 MHz Band by June 12, 2010; and
  • New licensees in the 700 MHz Band may require users of low-power auxiliary devices (including wireless microphones) to cease operations before June 12, 2010, by giving 60 days' advance notice.

In addition, the FCC temporarily waived its Part 15 rules (in the 700 MHz Band until June 12, 2010, and in the core TV band (i.e., channels 2-51) until the conclusion of the FNPRM) to allow unauthorized users of wireless microphones and low-power auxiliary devices to operate temporarily on an unlicensed basis. The agency also established new disclosure rules for equipment manufacturers t o ensure that consumers are aware of the impending prohibition against using wireless microphones and other low-power auxiliary devices in the 700 MHz Band.

In its FNPRM, the FCC proposed to revise Part 15 of its rules to permit the unlicensed operation of wireless microphones and other low-power wireless audio devices in the core TV Band. The Commission also solicited comments on several related issues:

  • Whether the agency should expand its Part 74 eligibility requirements for obtaining licenses to operate low-power auxiliary stations, including wireless microphones;
  • Whether the Commission should revise Part 90 of its rules to facilitate wireless microphone use; and
  • Whether there are other, long-term technological solutions (such as digital technology) that wouldenable wireless microphones to operate more efficiently.

Initial comments are due within 30 days following the FNPRM's publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 51 days following Federal Register publication.