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Wireless mics get national frequency early

Stargazers evicted ahead of schedule

Channel 38 will be available for wireless microphones, nationally, three months earlier than planned.

Channel 38 (which lies at 607.25MHz) is where Ofcom would like wireless microphones to hang out indefinitely, and the regulator had already promised to get the frequency clear by the end of 2010. That's been achieved early through the rapid transition to DTV and by kicking the radio astronomers out ahead of schedule, by 21 September.

Having a national frequency is important to programme makers and special events (PMSE) who may have touring shows or news crews and don’t want to have to keep retuning kit, or keep multiple sets for different places. The 8MHz at Channel 38 isn't wide enough for a whole stage show, but the long-term plan calls for combining that with white spaces (where DTV frequencies are empty) to provide enough bandwidth.

That's how it works right now, though the white-space maps are changing with the application of DTV and channel 69 (855.25MHz) is the nationally-available frequency. Channel 69 is only guaranteed to be available until July 2012, so Ofcom will be hoping that giving the PMSE crowd an additional three months to migrate will smooth the process slightly, though the huge quantity of legacy kit tuned to channel 69 remains a problem.

What would really smooth the process would be some clarity on the amount that PMSE users can expect to receive to cover the cost of the replacement kit, as they are the ones being asked to move. But Ofcom kicked that question to the treasury back in April, and these days the UK's treasury is a little preoccupied to worry about wireless microphones. ®

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