imgLincoln, NE (June 27, 2014)—James Stoffo, chief technology officer for Radio Active Designs, has notified the pro audio community that the first TV white space device operating in the unlicensed frequency spectrum used by wireless audio equipment is now on the market.

The unlicensed TV band device (TVBD), the RuralConnect system from Carlson Wireless Technologies, has been approved by the FCC following two years of trials. RuralConnect operates in the 470 to 698 MHz UHF frequency range, in the so-called “white space” spectrum opened up to unlicensed operators by the FCC following the transition from analog to digital television transmission.

“They're here!” states Stoffo. “I recommend getting an account with the Key Bridge TVBD database administrators.”

Under existing FCC rules, licensed and unlicensed, but authorized, wireless microphones may receive protection from interference from unlicensed TVBDs in 12 MHz of spectrum reserved for wireless mic operation. Part 73 and Part 74 license holders and unlicensed Part 15 operators may apply for registration in the databases established by the FCC to administer the spectrum. TVBDs are required to check those databases for a list of available open channels in which they may operate to avoid interfering with any registered users who have priority at that geographic location. There are several FCC-approved database administrators, including Telcordia, Spectrum Bridge and Google, in addition to Key Bridge Global.

Carlson’s device is intended to help deliver high-speed internet to rural populations, but has other applications, including municipal hotspots and suburban DSL replacement. For that reason, states Stoffo, “It is now entirely possible to receive interference on your event wireless microphones, intercom systems and in-ear monitors. Please plan accordingly.”

In a follow up, Stoffo comments, “I recommend Key Bridge because the president, Jesse Caulfield, has made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions that he is sympathetic to the wireless audio and professional production and broadcast communities. I have met with Jesse many times and he continues to push for a link from Shure's Wireless Workbench and PWS' IAS IMD software directly to his Key Bridge database. This would simplify the entire registration process.”

The FCC's recent Incentive Auction rulemaking and associated 600 MHz band plan will also result in the eventual reduction of spectrum in which wireless mics may receive protection. Radio Active Designs has introduced a wireless intercom system, UV-1G, that operates in the relatively unused VHF band, which could alleviate some of the congestion in the UHF spectrum. The pro audio industry can expect to see other wireless equipment manufacturers roll out innovative products in the coming months and years in response to the anticipated reduction in available spectrum and the introduction of more TVBDs.
As Stoffo points out, the Carlson device only operates in the UHF band: “Our RAD packs operate completely out of this UHF spectrum so that the low-power portable part of our system can operate completely white space-free.”

Radio Active Designs