What frequencies can wireless microphones use in 2015?
The first of January 2015 marks the start of the UHF band being repurposed for Digital TV, Mobile Voice and Data transmissions in Australia. Mobile Voice and Data transmissions are now allowed to transmit on the UHF frequencies; ranging from 694 to 820 megahertz and Digital TV will now be using parts of the lower half of the UHF frequencies; ranging from 520 to 694 megahertz.
Wireless microphone systems will still be allowed to run on lower UHF frequencies (520 to 694 megahertz). However the 520 to 694 megahertz range is also being shared with Digital FTA (FTA stands for "Free To Air") TV. This means that wireless microphone systems will only be able to operate on the lower UHF frequencies, providing they do not interfere with Digital FTA TV broadcasting. No wireless microphone or monitoring systems will be allowed to run on frequencyies ranging from 694 to 820 megahertz.
This "Change Over" or as the Australian Government is calling it "The Digital Divide" has meant that choosing a wireless microphone or monitoring system has become increasingly more difficult and left many wireless microphone or monitoring systems unusable.
So what options are out there? As of now you have two options:
Use a wireless microphone system that runs in the 520 to 694 megahertz frequency range and avoid transmitting on the frequencies digital FTA TV are using. This option may not be available in the future because the Australian Government has not guaranteed that all the frequencies in the 520 to 694 megahertz range will not be taken up by Digital FTA TV broadcasts.
To further complicate things TV stations are broadcasting on different frequencies in every state/territory so while a wireless microphone system might work in one state/territory it may not in others. To see what frequencies are available in your part of Australia; for Wireless microphones to transmit on, Shure, Sennheiser and ACMA have web based applications that will show you what frequencies are not being taken up by Digital TV.
- Shure: http://www.shure.com/americas/support/tools/wireless-frequency-finder
- Sennheiser: http://www.frequencyfinder.com.au/
- ACMA http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/channel-finder
The second option is to use a wireless system that transmits on the 1G, 2.4G or 5G bands. The Australian Government has said that the 1G band will work all around Australia without any problems. Some manufactures have also started making wireless systems run on the 2.4G and 5G bands which operate on the same frequency bands as the current wireless networking technology operates on.
This option seems to be the more future proof of the two options and is definitely the one I would recommend going with.
Today I hope I have given you a good overview of what is happening with the "Digital Divide." There is a lot of information out there and I have not necessarily covered everything. Further reading on the topic can be found on:
- Sennheiser's site which has an easy to read and an in-depth explanation: http://www.ddready.com.au/
- ACMA government site; which also has explanations on why the changeover is happening. http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Suppliers/A-Type-of-equipment/WirelessMicrophones;
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast and is studying IT and Multimedia at university and is also a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html