Ofcom has decided to hold off making decisions on wireless microphones until after the Olympics, but won't be paying replacement value of the kit it makes redundant. Back in December 2007 Ofcom proposed that a new band manager should be appointed, to licence out the Program Makers & Special Event (PMSE) frequencies. But since …
So, if I need to buy new wireless kit NOW, what do I need to get?
Channel 69 (which is outlawed after July 2012), or Channel 38 (which doesn't become legal until January 2012)?
I was kind of hoping that any kit that I buy now would last more than a couple of years.
Can you get dual-band stuff? I'm confused.
So is that a tacit admission that wireless mics might actually be pretty useful tools?
Re: What do I need to get
Channel 38 is already licensable in "most" of the country. So presumably its only the few remaining areas that will not be available until 2012.
Two problems remain in terms of buying new kit:
a) If you have an existing PMSE licence which was renewed before December 2009, it doesn't cover Channel 38 -- so you have to pay for a second licence. Instead, Ofcom should have declared that all existing PMSE licenses cover Channel 38.
b) There's precious little equipment available for Channel 38, and consequently it is likely to be more expensive for the foreseeable future.
RE: Still confused
Essentially, I think you are right . If you want to buy something now, you can only buy stuff that works in Ch69. If you want something that's legal to use in a few years time, then it has to work in Ch38 but it won't be legal to use now.
So you either accept that you have to scrap stuff in a couple of years because it's illegal to use and has no resale value, or buy stuff that can be converted during the pitifully small window. That might be as simple as changing a crystal (still not a DIY job for most people), or it may require more work which means an awful lot of conversion work and busy suppliers in that small window that will be allowed.
I'd imagine any astute manufacturer would have come up with a model that's use-configurable - but that probably carries a premium.
What is inexcusable is the short timescale allowed for parallel running of the two bands. It effectively makes any purchases a "distress purchase" with very limited scope for shopping around and looking for bargains at a time when lots of other poeple will also be doing the same. The only winners here will be vendors of new kit, and people providing a conversion service to convert older kit (where possible) to the new band.
I expect that in practice, a great many casual users will simply ignore the change and carry on - Ch 69 isn't going to get empty very fast.
"Ch 69 isn't going to get empty very fast"
Quite the reverse, it is going to be filled -- by digital TV, mobile phones or other services.
Those will broadcast at considerably higher power than radio microphones, so continuing to use them will not be an option. Your tiny signal will be more than drowned by data from the licensed owner.
The only option you have is the licence-exempt 863-865mHz band. A lot of Channel 69 equipment can also tune to that band and its legal to use radio mikes there. But unless you're performing in the middle of a very large field, there's a reasonable likelihood that somebody in an adjacent house or garden will be playing Beethoven over cordless speakers, and they have as much right to the licence-exempt frequencies as you.
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