FCC places 700 MHz wireless-microphone issue on tentative agenda
The FCC soon could begin establishing rules prohibiting the manufacture, distribution and use of wireless microphones and other devices that could create interference for public-safety and commercial licensees operating in the 700 MHz band, according to the tentative agenda for the commission’s Jan. 20 meeting.
According to the tentative agenda released last week, FCC commissioners would consider a notice of proposed rulemaking that would prohibit “the further distribution and sale of devices that operate in the 700 MHz frequency and [set] a date by which existing devices must clear the band to enable the rollout of public-safety services and the deployment of next-generation wireless devices for consumers.”
If approved, such an order would address a key question surrounding the 700 MHz band. Last year, public-safety organizations and CTIA — the trade association for commercial wireless carriers — wrote a joint letter to the FCC saying that disruptions to their 700 MHz transmissions are “inevitable” unless the agency establishes clear rules prohibiting such use.
While the FCC agenda item address 700 MHz devices broadly, the primary concern for public-safety organization is the use of wireless microphones in the band, said Robert Gurss, director of legal and government affairs for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
“I think the order will probably deal with basically any devices of that type, most of which are actually wireless microphones,” Gurss said.
Gurss said he has not been given any indication from the FCC what timelines or procedures are being considered in the proposed rulemaking.
Even if the FCC passes rules prohibiting wireless-microphone use in the 700 MHz band, many public-safety officials have expressed concern about the agency’s ability to enforce such rules, because most entities using such devices do not notify the FCC. In the past, Gurss has suggested that local fire and building inspectors could inquire about wireless-microphone use during their normal inspection work.