Why does the FCC prohibiting the use of wireless microphones in the 700 MHz Band?

Use of wireless microphones is prohibited within the 700 MHz Band because the frequencies are needed for public safety. This type of equipment was originally designed for use in between the frequencies that television stations used to broadcast television programs. With the completion of the digital television transition in 2009, television stations no longer use these frequencies for broadcast. These frequencies were reassigned for public safety use - including police, fire and emergency services - and by commercial providers of wireless services (such as wireless broadband services).

The wireless microphones (and similar devices) that operate in the old TV broadcast channels can cause harmful interference to the new services on those channels. Therefore, use of wireless microphones (and similar devices) - both licensed (under Part 74) and unlicensed - on any of the frequencies in the 700 MHz band is prohibited.

These rules apply to wireless microphones and similar devices. What equipment are “similar devices” to wireless microphones?

Similar devices to wireless microphones include wireless intercoms, wireless in-ear monitors (“IEM”), wireless audio instrument links, and wireless cueing equipment (aka “IFB”.) Typically these devices can transmit distances of 100 meters. This rule only applies to similar devices that operate in the 700 MHz Band. This rule does not apply to devices that operate in other bands or to equipment that has cords.

Does the FCC prohibit use of all wireless microphones?

You may continue to use wireless microphones (and similar devices) that operate on other broadcast frequencies. Microphones and similar devices with cords are not affected.

How can I find out if my wireless microphone uses frequencies in the 700 MHz Band?

Some wireless microphones (and similar devices) are marked with the frequency the device uses. If information on the device indicates that it operates on frequencies between 698 and 806 MHz, then the device uses 700 MHz spectrum and may not be used.

In addition, the FCC’s website provides information about which wireless microphones currently operate in the 700 MHz band. Consumers may use this site to look up their equipment by manufacturer and determine if their particular equipment operates in the 700 MHz band. The website also includes information about how to contact manufacturers about wireless microphone equipment.

If my wireless microphone is licensed under Part 74 rules, can I continue using my 700 MHz Band wireless microphone?

No. Wireless microphones (and similar devices) – licensed or unlicensed – may NOT operate in the 700 MHz Band. The prohibition against the use of wireless microphones in the 700 MHz band could have taken effect sooner if harmful interference was caused by its use or if notice was given sooner than the deadline by the FCC for users to cease operations in the 700 MHz Band as requested by public safety officials.

What happens if I don’t stop using my 700 MHz Band wireless microphone?

Using the 700 MHz Band for a wireless microphone (or similar device) could be extremely dangerous and could even be life threatening. Police and fire departments, and other public safety groups, use frequencies in the 700 MHz Band. 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. In addition, use of your microphone can cause unlawful interference to consumer services provided using the 700 MHz Band.

Operation of wireless microphones in violation of these rules may subject the user to substantial monetary forfeitures and/or criminal penalties, including imprisonment. Because any operation in violation of these rules creates a danger of interference to important radio communications services and may subject the operator to severe penalties, this advisory emphasizes the importance of complying strictly with these legal requirements.

How do I make sure I buy the right kind of wireless microphone?

In 2010, the FCC banned the sale, manufacture or import of any wireless microphones (and similar devices) that are intended for use in the United States in the 700 MHz Band. Any wireless microphones in the market today should be devices that legally operate in other frequency bands (such as the core TV bands i.e. channels 2-51, excluding channel 37) where wireless microphone use is permitted.

All users of wireless microphones may operate the equipment on an unlicensed basis, subject to certain restrictions: the device (1) must not be operated at a power level in excess of 50 milliwatts, (2) may not cause harmful interference, and (3) must be operated in a way that accepts any interference that may be received. For most users – such as theaters, churches, schools, conference centers, theme parks and musicians – the use of this device is unlicensed.

Most wireless microphones are designed to operate with 50 milliwatts or less. Users are advised to consult their owner’s manual, or other materials provided by the manufacturer or distributor, to determine the output power of their wireless microphone.

Some users are eligible to obtain a license to operate these devices. These include specified entities – such as licensees of AM, FM or TV stations, broadcast networks and cable television system operators – set forth in the FCC’s rules (pursuant to Part 74). These entities must first obtain a license before operating under the rules permitted for licensed use.

Can I become a FCC Part 74 licensee and get a more powerful wireless microphone?

Part 74 licenses are limited to AM, FM, TV stations, broadcast networks and cable television systems operators, motion picture and television program producers, and certain Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadcast Service Stations. (See 47 CFR § 74.832.) To obtain a license, you must be qualified under these limitations, file an application with the FCC, and pay the necessary fees.

My wireless microphone used to work fine. Now I am getting static or interference. What happened?

If you have recently started to receive large amounts of interference, you are most likely causing interference to a public safety entity or wireless broadband provider. Any wireless microphone (or similar device) causing interference in the 700 MHz Band must cease operations immediately. Additional information about stopping the use of your wireless microphone can be found at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/wireless-microphones.

How do I report interference to my device which is operating on licensed 700 MHz spectrum?

If you are a Public Safety Licensee you may report interference to your 700 MHz device by contacting the FCC Operations Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at (202) 418-1122, or FCCOPCenter@fcc.gov.

If you are a consumer that is using a device that operates on licensed 700 MHz spectrum, you may report interference to the FCC.

  • Click on “Wireless Telephone” for the type of complaint, then click “next” at the bottom of the page.
  • Click on “Interference to Non-Emergency Devices” for the complaint category, then click “Next” at the bottom of the page
  • Click on “Continue to Online Form”
  • Complete the information on the Form.

Only wireless devices that operate on licensed 700 MHz spectrum are permitted. Wireless microphones and similar devices are prohibited on the 700 MHz band.

What do I do with my old equipment?

Remember to recycle any electronic equipment you are discarding. Recycling electronic equipment recovers valuable materials from the circuit boards, metal wiring, leaded glass, and plastics. Contact your local household hazardous waste collection and recycling authorities.

Consumer Help Center

For more information on consumer issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer Help Center at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.

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Wireless Microphones: FAQs Guide (pdf)

Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Sunday, November 8, 2015