FCC law changes affect churches nationwide

Are the wireless microphones in your church legal?

Recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulings banned the use of wireless microphone systems operating in the 700-megahertz (MHz) band; enforcement of new laws began June 12, when the regulation took effect.

The law applies to all wireless equipment users such as schools and churches, and wireless devices, which may include microphones, in-ear devices, intercoms, wireless instrument transmitters and video transmitters.

Studies estimate the new law affects 10 percent of wireless microphones.

A deeper look at the law

With the expansion of technology and move to HD and 4G networks came the need for the FCC to ensure the protection of certain frequencies; designating their use solely to emergency or public safety operators.

Prior to this regulation wireless devices operated legally in the public safety band. These new regulations are in place to prevent potentially life-threatening interference from taking place, the FCC says.

“The law is adding protection for a certain transmission range for the use of emergency services (police, fire, homeland security, etc.) An explanation of the law is that the FCC controls the use and licensing of the broadcast airwaves and until now has allowed unlicensed use of the range in question. The new restriction, they contend, is simply restricting the licensing of that range for a specific need,” explained Ken Lasater, SBTC church ministries associate.

According to the FCC website, “Interference from wireless microphones can affect the ability of public safety groups to receive information over the air and respond to emergencies. Harmful interference to these communications could put you or public safety personnel in grave danger.”

Organizations that continue to operate in the 700 MHz range face potential fines and penalties.

“The wise decision is to operate legally, abandoning the use of these frequencies,” Lasater said.

Equipment inspection

Churches with concerns about their own wireless equipment can visit the FCC website?fcc.gov/cgb/wirelessmicrophones/manufacturers.html?which lists most (not all) brands and manufacturers of various wireless equipment as well as lists if the device meets the new regulations.”

“Not every unit will need to be replaced. Some units are already in compliance. That is, they already operate outside of the 700 MHz range. Other systems have the ability to be adjusted to work within legal parameters. Check with the manufacturer for details,” Lasater said.

Curtis James, SBTC multimedia consultant, urges churches to inspect their equipment.

“In most cases the frequency your wireless microphone operates on is printed on your wireless receiver. It is normal

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