By Anna Keller
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
Church sound teams, listen up — and you may need a different mic frequency to do so.
Recently the U.S. government auctioned off most of the 600 MHz frequency band to private companies and now T-Mobile is in control of most of that band of frequencies.
By July 2020, and earlier in some areas, people must cease using this band or face financial penalities.
Many, if not most, wireless microphones in churches use the 600 MHz band.
“The auctioned frequencies in the 600 MHz range is probably the most used band,” said Gary Gunn, a wireless microphone expert at Vision2 Marketing in Nashville.
“The problem is that the units will not stop working but will start having more and more interference.”
Although it means investing in new equipment, Gunn said he encourages churches not to continue in what will soon be an illegal system.
“It is only a matter of time until more of the frequency spectrum will be sold off, so investment in new digital wireless mic systems seems to be the best answer at this point,” he added.
“I would highly recommend that churches look to a reputable sound company for evaluation of their wireless needs.”
Churches and other organizations who don’t move away from using the 600 MHz range will potentially face a fine that could reach into a six-figure range, according to Michael Thompson, president of Thompson Sound, Inc.
Thompson recommends sticking within the 450–599 MHz range.
There are other bands available but Thompson predicts the 800–900 MHz bands will be the next to be sold off by the FCC. Plus some cellphone providers use the 800–900 MHz bands, he explained.
“Customers must recognize that they do not ‘own’ any frequency, and just because a wireless unit has operated for a period of time with no problems, there is no guarantee that it will continue to operate interference free in the future,” Thompson said.
• Is my church’s sound equipment affected? If your church has purchased any wireless unit in the past 10–15 years, you likely have at least one unit in the 600 MHz band as it’s been the most popular band for several years.
• What other bands are available? The best option is the 450–599 MHz range.
• How can you tell which frequency band your church’s mics are using? Check for a sticker stating the mic’s frequency, which all wireless microphone transmitters and receivers are required to have.
• How long do we have to update our equipment? All equipment must be updated by July 2020 and sooner in some areas. (Anna Keller)