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UK regulator Ofcom has written to holders of wireless microphone licences explaining how from January 4th new licences will give them the confidence to invest in new kit.

Hitherto wireless microphones have been lurking between analogue TV signals, with one channel (69 - 855.25MHz) all of their own. But the brave new world of Digital TV makes that more difficult, so Ofcom has laid out a plan involving regional access to channel 38 (607.25MHz) with temporary access to channels 39 and 40 until 2012, and 69 remaining available until then too - one can almost feel the confidence rising.

It's not all Ofcom's fault - channel 38 can't be used in Cheshire or parts of Cumbria as it might interfere with radio astronomy, and it can't be used near places that haven't switched off analogue, which cuts out great chunks of the country until 2012. Ofcom is hoping that PMSE - Programme Making and Special Events, the crowd who do most licensing of radio mics - will be able to use channels 39 and 40 to fill in any gaps, and the new licences will permit such uses.

But they'll also permit continued use of channel 69, so users might decide to stay there until they're forced to update their kit and Ofcom sorts out what kind of recompense package it's going to offer.

In the longer term, Ofcom sees the PMSE crowd moving into the white spaces - transmitting on frequencies used for Digital TV in other parts of the country, though in the past the regulator has suggested selling those off too, none of which increases the confidence of the PMSE industry. ®

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