Wireless microphones and other devices operating in the 700 MHz band no longer can be sold or distributed in the United States, and their use must cease by June 12 to clear the band for the deployment of commercial and public-safety wireless systems, the FCC ruled in an order released last Friday.

“Everybody knew this was coming and have known about it for some time,” FCC spokesman Matt Nodine said. “The commission just had not put in a date certain, and this order does that.”

Nodine noted that most wireless microphones operate on bands other than 700 MHz, particularly those manufactured in the recent past, when commercial and public-safety officials voiced their concerns about interference. Users may keep existing devices that can be retuned for use in another band, he said.

Public-safety entities that are deploying 700 MHz systems before June 12 can request that users cease operations in the band with 60 days notice, said Robert Gurss, director of legal and government affairs for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

“It’s a good order,” Gurss said. “We applaud the FCC’s action to clear wireless microphones from the band. The problem is that those devices can cause dangerous interference to current and future public-safety operations for both narrowband and broadband. We think it’s a very positive order, and we’re glad the commission finally took the step.”

Most industry sources believe there will be little difficulty getting authorized users — primarily those in the broadcast industry — to clear the 700 MHz band, but Gurss and others have expressed concern about the many unauthorized users in the band that may not follow FCC rulings closely.

With this in mind, the FCC has established an “aggressive consumer outreach plan” to make users aware of the June 12 deadline. Consumers can learn whether their current devices need to be replaced at commission's Web site, or by calling 800-CALL-FCC.

“We’re also trying to notify every organization that we can think of that could potentially be affected by this,” Nodine said. “That ranges from state departments of education and school systems to churches and synagogues to amusement parks, theaters, attractions and civic theaters — anybody we can think of, we’re targeting them with press releases and phone calls to get it out to their members.”