Do I have to get an FCC license to operate my wireless transmitters?
AT THIS TIME, one is not required by law to hold a valid Low Power Auxiliary Broadcast License (LPAB) to operate wireless microphones, AS LONG AS you operate in the two channels allocated by the White Space Database Administrators for unlicensed wireless transmitters in the area you intend to operate. (There are over six different “areas” in greater Los Angeles, with different sets of dedicated channels.)
However, there are a multitude of reasons why one SHOULD hold the license.
- Broadcast Television and Radio Stations, along with Low Power Community Television Stations (Primary Stations) have the highest priority with the FCC. Holding a valid Part 74 (LPAB) license elevates one status with the FCC to the next highest priority, that of the Low Power Broadcast Auxiliary Station. Unlicensed users and White Space Devices have the lowest priority.
- Under the most recent reallocation of the UHF spectrum, unlicensed wireless microphone users are supposed to operate only within the two UHF TV stations dedicated for that use in their area. These two stations (by definition, as close to Ch. 37 as possible, without causing interference with any Primary Broadcasters) are selected in each area by the White Space Database Administrators who will be operating the coming Dynamic White Space Databases. In a large metropolis, such as Los Angeles, these two stations are different as one changes neighborhoods. Licensed operators may use the entire available spectrum, as long as no interference is caused to Primary Stations.
- Unlicensed users may not transmit over 100 mW. Licensed users may transmit up to 250 mW.
- When the FCC looks at user’s concerns when making decisions as to reallocation, etc., they only take into consideration licensed users. (Since the advent of the “FCC License Project”, the number of licensed Part 74 users has almost doubled!) As persons in the business of Film and Television production, we have absolutely no voice in FCC proceedings unless we hold licenses.
- White Space Devices, which use 6 MHz of bandwidth on existing UHF-TV channels, when they begin operation (possibly within 2012) will be allowed to broadcast ANYWHERE in the available UHF spectrum other than channels occupied by Primary Users, channel 37 (reserved permanently for Radio Astronomy), and the two channels reserved for unlicensed wireless use. WSDs use 6 MHz of bandwidth, and may be up to 1000 mW in strength, and will blow you off the spectrum. Licensed Part 74 Operators will have priority over White Space Devices, if properly entered into the Dynamic White Space Database.
For these reasons, the FCC License Project was created to make acquiring a valid FCC Part 74 (LPAB) License as easy as possible. The membership of IATSE Local 695 has unanimously endorsed the Project, and the Project recently acquired the full support of LectroSonics, the primary manufacturer in our industry.