White Space: Performing Arts and Wireless Microphones

Background on White Space Advocacy

Nonprofit performing arts organizations rely on wireless technology for unrestricted on-stage movement, to create sophisticated sound, and for backstage communications for stagehands. This technology operates within the “white space” radio frequencies between TV broadcast channels.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 required the FCC to auction off TV broadcast spectrum to wireless broadband developers to help offset the federal deficit. In this auction, slated to begin spring 2016, the FCC will ‘repack’ or reorganize the broadcast spectrum which will result in wireless microphones and technologies having to move–once again–to another area of the broadcast spectrum. The FCC had previously required wireless entities to move in the spectrum in 2010. The move will result in performing arts organizations having to pay for the costly replacement of sound and other wireless equipment.

An August 2015 FCC proceeding ruled that unlicensed wireless microphones would not be able to access a geo-location database for interference protection from white space devices. This database would allow users to register the frequencies on which their wireless devices were operating. That same proceeding also eliminated the two safe-haven channels that had been set aside for wireless microphones, and the proceeding outlined the process for wireless microphones to move to new spectrum following the auction in 2016.

PAA encourages the Commission to ensure it protects existing services, including wireless microphones used in the performing arts and educational facilities.

Please see the Issue Brief (to the left) for additional information and the most recent updates on this topic. 

What's at Stake

It is essential that the FCC offer interference protection to performing arts entities since they provide valuable public services. Congress should urge the FCC to restore access to a reliable geo-location database and preserve nonprofit performing arts, education, and media organizations’ financial investments in technical equipment.

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What We're Asking For Right Now

Congress should urge the FCC to:

  • Provide professional wireless capability, with interference protection that works successfully, to the performing arts and community media sector.
  • Restore access to a reliable geo-location database
  • Offer some form of interference protection to performing arts entities.

We urge Congress to:

  • Recognize the investment that organizations in the performing arts, education, and media community have made in wireless microphones.
  • Consider the financial burden already borne by performing arts, education, and media organizations, and allow these wireless microphone users the ability to use current equipment as long as possible.
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