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Article ED00005: The Digital Dividend - Preparing for 2015

Summary:

After December 31st 2014 it will be illegal to operate wireless audio (including radio microphones, in ear monitoring systems and instrument transmitters) in the 694MHz-820MHz frequency range. This article explains why, the consequences and how Music EDnet can help.

Application:

All users of wireless audio systems For schools this will effect systems in assembly halls, chapels, general-use portable PAs, drama, dance and music faculties.

Details:

The Change

You will no doubt be aware of the current switch from analogue to digital only transmission of television channels. Over the past few months the transmission of analogue TV has been progressively switched off around the country, and will continue to be until completed by 31 December 2013. Due to the fact that digital signals take up less broadcasting room on the spectrum, a portion of the radio frequency spectrum will no longer be used to transmit television. The digital dividend describes the spectrum that will 'become available' when the switch off of analogue television signals is completed.

On January 11th 2010 the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy published the long awaited Digital Dividend Green Paper. This paper indicates how much spectrum within the broadcast services band the Australian government hoped to auction off and what part of the spectrum will be subject to this reallocation.
 
Since then the government has auctioned off the right to use of 126MHz of contiguous spectrum from 694-820MHz, what is colloquially known as the 700MHz band for telecommunications. The results of this auction are shown in the graph below. Whilst television broadcast has been moved from this spectrum, it was not the only user of it... wireless audio systems also utilise this spectrum.

Digital Dividend Auction Results

After December 31, 2014 it will be illegal to operate wireless microphones
in the radio frequency spectrum between 694Mhz and 820MHz

The Impact

The issue for wireless audio (radio microphones, in ear monitoring systems, instrument transmitters) use, is the available spectrum has been reduced by around 40%. Some of the consequences are:

  • It becomes illegal to use an existing device in the spectrum between 694MHz and 820MHz. Fines and jail are potential consequences for continued use after December 31st 2014 under the 1992 Act.
  • About 80% of the radio mics in use in Australia will need to move spectrum (at least 150,000 devices) as they currently operate in the spectrum sold for use by telecommunications
  • Current users will need to replace their non-compliant products
  • As much as 18,000 tonnes of electronic waste will need to be disposed of

After December 31 2014, wireless microphones and in-ear monitor systems will need to operate on frequencies not used by TV stations, between 520 MHz and 694 MHz. This will ensure your systems operate reliably and that you stay within the law.

The Solution

As we get closer to the cut-off date, there is expected to be a huge rush as schools, universities, churches and professional users all seek to replace their non-compliant systems. It is predicted that demand will greatly outweigh supply and those who have left it til the last minute will experience prolonged waiting times for delivery of their equipment.

So, ensure you avoid the panic, and look to solve any compliance issues you may have over the next few months. While there is unlikely to be any government assistance to compensate for the replacement of non-compliant equipment, most wireless audio companies are offering trade-in specials.

For more information contact Music EDnet
1300 723 700 or info@musicednet.com

See also:

An Open Letter from ACETA and AWAG to School Principals and Councillors: Read it here

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA): Wireless Mic Hub

Article on The Music Network: 'The digital dividend: how digital TV will render 80% of wireless audio devices redundant'

Australian Wireless Audio Group: 'Wireless Audio Devices and the Digital Dividend'.
 

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