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German spectrum shift could affect ‘up to 700,000’ wireless mics

Sennheiser is among the leading manufacturers helping PMSE users to make the transition, writes David Davies.

As Germany continues to navigate the practicalities of spectrum reorganisation, Ties-Christian Gerdes – president of Sennheiser Vertrieb & Service GmbH – has told PSNEurope about the extent of preparations that still need to be undertaken if the PMSE (programme making & special events) community is to achieve a successful transition to the post-switchover era.

Gerdes – who suggests that “up to 700,000 wireless microphones could be affected” by the changes – says that while large theatres and broadcasters have already converted their wireless technology, “many private and non-commercial users – such as semi-professional bands, churches and free theatre groups – have not yet [done so].”

Whilst there is little cause for immediate panic, changing usage patterns over the next few years mean that “disturbances in the rural areas, city states and urban centres should be anticipated increasingly,” warns Gerdes.

Germany’s new (licensed) PMSE core spectrum is 710-790MHz, but for the as-yet unconverted, there are a number of possible options for registration-free operation. These include the so-called ‘Mittenlücke’ (middle clearance) of 823-832MHz, the ISM-Band (863-865MHz), and the area between 1,785 and 1,805MHz. The operation of radio links is also possible in the former UHF spectrum from 790-814MHz and 838-862MHz until 31 December 2015 without registration providing that frequency area is not used by mobile services.

For those looking to transfer to the new PMSE ‘home’, Germany’s federal ministries of economics/technology and finance have devised a payment scheme – although as with the initiative overseen by Ofcom and Equiniti in the UK, it is not entirely comprehensive. Aspiring claimants need to have purchased their equipment between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2009, and must also offer qualified proof of an impact from LTE mobile phone networks.

Gerdes reveals that Sennheiser’s German sales subsidiary received 30,000 calls about spectrum reallocation in 2011 alone – surely an indication of lingering uncertainty amongst professional users. Accordingly, the manufacturer is continuing to offer physical and download versions of its ‘DD Ready’ guide, containing extensive information about products, user groups and more.