What of the Digital Frequency Changover in the UK and Europe

After a great Olympics and Paralympics in London last year the final stages of the Digital Dividend Review (DDR) conclude. This blog post will address your questions in how this may/may not affect you and your audio applications where using wireless microphones.

What is the DDR and how will it affect the use of wireless microphones?

The DDR was launched by OFCOM and the UK government to decide how to manage and then sell off parts of the radio spectrum for use with the Digital Switch Over (DSO) for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Mobile Data Services for the 4G Spectrum.

The key area for concern for Radio Microphone users is the sell off of Channel 69. The frequency range for this part of the spectrum is 854-862 MHz. If you are operating a radio mic in this frequency range you are likely to experience interference as the 4G network rolls out. This is not a UK only issue. All European territories work on the same frequency range so the roll-out of the 4G networks are happening at similar times. In the UK you should contact OFCOM for further details. For other European areas you should refer to your own National Frequency Control organisations.

How do I know if my microphones run in this frequency range?

There is one simple way to see what frequencies you are running and that is to open up your cupboards, credenza’s and racks and look for the frequency on the front of your Radio Mic receiver. If you are using a frequency within the CH 69 range you need to think about your options.

What are my options if I am using a frequency in the CH 69 range?

First, don’t panic. There are a number of options open to you however time may not be in your side. In the UK 4G networks are already in the process of being rolled out with the main 4G auction taking place in early 2013.

Let’s take a look at your options:

UHF Options

  • There are other frequency ranges available to you but they can be restrictive. A number of my customers have moved onto Channel 70 (863-865 MHz). There is one major limiting factor with this range which means that you will be limited to only 4 devices as the frequency range is very small. CH 70 is licence free which will also mean that anybody and everybody will be trying to use it so the chance of interference and cross talk will be significantly increased. In addition there are no promises from OFCOM that there will be no spill over from CH 69.
  • The second UHF option is to rebuy your equipment and move to the licenced CH38 (600MHz) frequency range. You should apply to www.jfmg.co.uk for a licence for this frequency range.

The Revolabs option.

  • Revolabs offers a great alternative solution for the UHF switch over. The DECT technology operates at 1.88-1.9GHz (UK and Europe) which means that it operates outside of both UHF and Wifi frequencies. DECT’s digital technology includes 128 or 256 Bit encryption making it an ideal solution for the commercial world. One of the main historical issues when using UHF systems is over saturation. The Revolabs solution overcomes this with its capability to reduce the geographical footprint created by the receiver allowing us to operate more microphones than a traditional UHF system. We have a number of HE clients in the UK operating up to 100 microphones with plans to introduce more.
  • We have simple 1 and 2 channel HD systems including the HD Venue which is an ideal retro fit unit with XLR connectivity.
  • We also have our HD executive range for larger applications supporting up to 40 microphones.
  • If you are looking to add radio mics for lecture capture have a look at the XTag.

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Questions? We’d love to help