Background: A couple of years ago, OFCOM in their wisdom, looked at all of their licenced bands, and discovered that they had a handy frequency range which could be sold off, as there were very few licence holders within it. The frequencies were in the 800mhz region, and meant that 4G could be a reality for the UK, and also meant a good few billion quid in the back pocket of the government. WINNING ALL ROUND, RIGHT??
Well yes…..Unless you were a user of Channel 69-70 wireless kit.
Owing to the fact that wireless microphone owners had essentially been so poor at buying their licences, that OFCOM thought these frequencies were largely vacant, they had effectively lost their right to those frequencies. Basically, it was our own fault for not buying licences!
So all radio mics, were moved to the Channel 38 band, meaning new hardware for everyone.
So, post switchover, what can you get away with?
Well…most older kit, can tune to Channel 70 – which is still free to use, and still available. But there are several draw backs to this.
Maximum of 6 wireless units within the band without crosstalk (and realistically only 4 at the most)
- Channel 70 is UNLICENCED….which means that if the mobile phone companies decide that they need few more Mhz out of their 4G systems, there’s absolutely nothing that can be done.
- EVERYONE is using it! You might get lucky, but even in relatively small towns, I’ve found myself only able to get a single available channel – this has the potential to ruin a gig!
What to do?
so it’s worth considering the value of a brand new item with its full warranty etc.
Sennheiser G2 above – great kit, but sadly can’t be re-tuned to Channel 38. And (right) – So easy that a child can use it!!
And this is the SKM2000 Transmitter that replaced ALL of the above mics! An expensive game is wireless!
Licencing: If you do buy Channel 38 kit, you’re going to need a licence. All of the info including costs etc, can be found here
This document gives you an idea of the way in which you should plan your frequencies when using multiple wireless devices.
It’s still early days, but it seems some of the manufacturers are looking for ways around the licenced bands – I believe Shure have recently released units which operate on the 2.4ghz band. These are worth considering, as the licence for channel 38 is £75 per year – every year! I would be looking for assurance that this will not interfere with Wi-Fi routers however – you won’t be popular if you turn up at a pub, and your mics wipe out their comms!