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Australian wireless microphone frequencies become illegal in 2015

The use of many wireless microphones and transmitters in Australia will be illegal from the start of 2015 thanks to a change in the frequency range.

The use of many wireless microphones and transmitters in Australia will be illegal from the start of 2015 thanks to a change in the frequency range.

(Credit: Sennheiser)

Currently, the spectrum between 520MHz-820MHz is used for TV broadcasting, and wireless microphones can operate in the gaps between. As the transition between analog and digital broadcasting is completed, the frequencies between 694MHz-820MHz (what's called the digital dividend) will be transitioned for use by long-term evolution or 4G services.

From 1 January 2015, it will be illegal to use wireless microphones or transmitters operating in the digital dividend. The new frequency range for legal use of wireless devices will be between 520MHz-694MHz and 1790MHz-1800MHz.

As of 17 September 2013, all new wireless microphones operating in the digital dividend range must be sold with a notice, warning users of the frequency change. After 1 January 2015, users will need to get their devices retuned or replace them with new, compliant ones to keep using them legally.

"The intention continues to be to give Australians as much time as possible to prepare for the changes, and we strongly encourage people to check their equipment now," said Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) chairman Chris Chapman. "Anyone considering buying a new wireless microphone or audio device should check for the warning label and ensure they are buying a compliant one."

Manufacturers of wireless microphones and transmitters, such as Sennheiser, are already starting to roll out products that run on different frequencies before the 2015 changeover date. "The frequency band from 1790MHz to 1800MHz is reserved exclusively for audio transmission, which means that users no longer have to plan their systems around primary users or search for gaps between TV channels," said James Waldron, product manager Professional Wireless Microphones at Syntec. "This spectrum is completely free of other users. In addition, the band is available right across Australia, so users can travel anywhere confident that their system will operate without interference."

"We have in the marketplace a trade-in deal, so customers can trade in their non-compliant systems for new ones," said Waldron to CNET Australia. "It has been in the market for six months now ... [and] will help people and encourage people to trade in their products."

Waldron also encouraged consumers to conduct their trade-in or replacement purchases as soon as possible. "Don't hold out until December next year; there are a lot of these systems around, and you want to make sure you can do it in your time rather than in the rush towards the end of next year," he stated. All products returned to Sennheiser will be sent to an e-recycling facility rather than disposed of in landfill.

For more information, the ACMA has produced a series of fact sheets around the transition, which can be found on its website.