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ISE 2015: The Shure wireless campaign EVERYONE needs to see

SDUK aims to inform everyone about the challenges to the use of wireless microphone systems as the RF spectrum shrinks and shrinks

Shure Distribution UK (SDUK) is using ISE to focus on awareness of the importance of RF spectrum availability for users of wireless microphones.

Under the slogan Losing Your Voice, SDUK is aiming to better inform both professional and semi-professional users of RF technology – ranging from ISE’s core audience of conference audio and systems integrators to live performers and events organisers – about the challenges to the unhindered use of wireless microphone systems as a result of continued UHF spectrum allocation to the mobile communications and data industries (see Upheaval in 700MHz band looms for PMSE and DTT).

PSNEurope first reported the launch of Losing Your Voice in our wireless systems feature in January’s issue (see PSNEurope January 2015 digital edition now available), when Tuomo Tolone (pictured), SDUK’s pro-audio group manager and RF specialist, revealed that, in addition to continued efforts towards making its products more spectrum-efficient, “[SDUK] will be launching the Losing Your Voice campaign, which is a spectrum information resource that aims to drive awareness of the consequences of diminishing spectrum to a wider audience by visually representing the issues and explaining action that can be taken”.

He comments: “Over the past few years, the user base for wireless microphone technology has expanded far beyond the professional touring, broadcast and theatrical industries – the programme-making and special events, or PMSE, sector – where these systems first became popular. Wireless microphones are now used by all kinds of users, such as bands on the live circuit, church groups and events companies, as well as by professional specialists and integrators in the conference audio market. All of these applications are potentially under threat as the availability of RF spectrum for wireless microphone use in the UK diminishes.”

Following the 2012 ‘digital dividend’, British wireless users lost access to the 800MHz band (790–862MHz) – dedicated frequencies that were once set aside for their exclusive use – and were granted the use of a new band of frequencies (see Ofcom moves to quell channel 69 concerns). However, in November last year, Ofcom announced its intention to fully clear, as early as 2020, 694-790MHz from use by wireless microphone operators, as this portion of spectrum is now also earmarked for auction to mobile data and telecoms users.

As ISE opens today, SDUK is making available for download its new guide to wireless frequencies in the UK and launching a dedicated Losing Your Voice website. Both aim to help wireless users discover – as the guide and site put it – “Why the single biggest threat to wireless audio is in your pocket”, how to learn more about the current situation and how to prepare for the next round of changes.

“Of course, this isn’t about trying to paint mobile technology as some kind of enemy,” continues Tolonen. “Almost everyone is a user in some capacity of tablets, mobiles, laptops and broadband, and that’s not going to go away. Instead, what we’re trying to do is raise awareness of the widespread types of pro and semi-pro wireless microphone users in many different markets so that their ability to work is not compromised by the ongoing changes to RF spectrum allocation in the UK. It’s clear that if proper consideration is not made for the use of the RF spectrum by the PMSE sector and other owners of wireless microphone systems, it will cause further disruption to an industry already affected by the changes of the first digital dividend.”

In parallel with the launch of Losing Your Voice, the Shure Academy European Audio Network will be running more of its successful Wireless Mastered RF masterclasses throughout the UK during 2015, covering all aspects of setting up and running wireless microphone systems, including discussion of the ongoing changes to RF spectrum availability in the UK. The next three are with Shure Distribution UK in Waltham Abbey, Essex; AC Entertainment Technologies in Leeds; and LMC Audio, at SDUK in Waltham Abbey (see LMC Audio partners with Shure Academy for Wireless Mastered session).