Warning About Buying A Wireless Microphone System

Buying A Wireless Microphone System?
Are you considering purchasing a wireless microphone system, and are wondering which one to buy? There are a few questions you might like to ask your supplier before parting with some hard earned cash!

  • Do I need a licence to use it now, or in the future?
  • Will it be legal after 1st January 2012?
  • Can it use an unlicenced frequency band?

Users of Professional Wireless Microphone System (PWMS), should be wary of changes made to the wireless spectrum by Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, will mean that after 1st January 2012, some equipment will have to change frequencies or be illegal. This affects equipment such as wireless microphones, wireless instrument links and in-ear monitors, which use Channel 69. Ofcom are having at the moment is regarding Channel 69, and selling those ranges off… the question is, what happens to wireless microphones that are currently licensed to use Channel 69?

The answer is that after 1st January 2012, users of wireless microphones, or any of the other equipment mentioned above on Channels 69 will run the risk of prosecution by Ofcom. After that, Channel 70 will still be free but will only have 4 usable frequencies and could be useless if other users (other events, churches, theatres, clubs etc.) are in range.

Using existing equipment on Channels 69 and 70 is OK without a licence until Jan 1st 2012. For specific details of frequencies that will be available in your area, see the UK Shared Wireless Microphone Spectrum tool provided by JFMG, below.

Ofcom have proposed to provide funding to eligible PMSE users who are affected by the clearing channel 69, but as usual there are some hoops to jump through, if you think you are going to be affected. First, users will need to register claims through the appointed PMSE funding scheme administrator, Equiniti Ltd. Registration opened on 23 September 2010 and will close at the end of December 2010.

Who is eligible for funding?
To be eligible for funding, a user must have held a licence to use channel 69 equipment on 2 February 2009 (when Ofcom gave notice that they planned to clear channel 69), or in the 12 months before this date. The only exception to this requirement is companies who can prove their business involves hiring out, rather than using, equipment which needs a channel 69 licence.

Users will only be able to receive funding for working equipment that tunes to channel 69 but not channel 38. They must have bought that equipment before 30 June 2009 (when Ofcom confirmed channel 38 would be replacing channel 69).

The Ofcom proposed funding scheme aimed to help those affected by the changes can be summarized as follows. Those eligible would be:

  • Users who purchased before 2nd February 2009 equipment capable of tuning to Channel 69 but not Channel 38 and were in possession of a valid Channel 69 licence after 2nd February 2008.
  • Licensed users who needed to buy Channel 69 equipment between February 2009 and 30 June 2009.
  • and Rental companies

Users who will not be eligible for funding under the proposals are:

  • Channel 31 – 37 users.
  • Channel 60 – 68 users.
  • Users whose equipment does not tune to Channel 69.
  • Users whose equipment tunes to Channel 69 but also tunes to Channel 38.
  • Users who have never held a licence to operate Channel 69.
  • Users who purchase Channel 69 equipment after 30 June 2009.

To find out more check out the following links:

If you are currently considering buying a wireless microphone system, make sure that you ask the supplier to confirm that it will operate in the free Channel 70, or consider buying a licence for channel 38. After 2012 only channel 70 may be used for free, and channel 38 may only be used with a licence. You have been warned!