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Rustic River

What to do with 600-698 MHz wireless systems?

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All of my wireless kits are Sony branded and each unit covers channels 30-36 & 38-41 (566 to 608 & 614 to 638 MHz).

 

Unlike other brands, Sony did not (at least to my knowledge) offer any kind of trade in program for TXs or RXs that were in the range that are no longer legal as of last year. Because of this, I'm currently stuck with three sets of UWP-D11 transmitters and receivers as well as one URX-P03D two cannel receiver and one UTX-P03 plug-on transmitter. That's $2,830 worth of useless wireless systems sitting in my office that have essentially no future.

 

I'm frustrated about this and don't understand why there isn't a way that Sony or other companies could swap out the internal components in these systems to make them work under different frequencies. I wouldn't mind paying for it because that would likely be much cheaper than simply having to buy all new ones.

 

What is everyone else doing to work around this? I know that in audio $2,830 isn't all that much, but I've already dropped so much into audio the past several years (around $20,000) that it's super frustrating that I have to spend even more.

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OTOH Just use your present wireless until those bands are too crowded to be used reliably. I know lots of local mixers who have never used wireless below 600Mhz and have no problem with them not working properly. They will continue to use their systems and change to new freqs only when conditions force them to do that.

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15 minutes ago, Rustic River said:

...

Unlike other brands, Sony did not (at least to my knowledge) offer any kind of trade in program for TXs or RXs that were in the range that are no longer legal as of last year.

....

 

Unless Texas has seceded from the union and established its own RF rules, the 600mHz frequencies (up to 698) won't be illegal in the U.S. until approximately July 13, 2020.

 

However, before then you might be in danger of T-Mobile testing their formerly "public owned" frequencies.

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I still have a couple channels of block 24 that I use for bigger gigs when I need a high count for wireless.  My plan is to just use them to the bitter end in July 2020.  They aren't worth a whole lot / have paid for themselves many times over (especially since I bought them used anyways to begin with).  Yeah T-Mobile might start turning on 5G stuff in the mean time on a rolling basis but even then there's the guard band / duplex gap that can fit a few channels in for the next couple of years.  This whole FCC situation is a pain in the ass that isn't fair but at the end of the day, I've got a business to run and I'd rather adapt than die.

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1 hour ago, Rustic River said:

All of my wireless kits are Sony branded and each unit covers channels 30-36 & 38-41 (566 to 608 & 614 to 638 MHz).


Unlike other brands, Sony did not (at least to my knowledge) offer any kind of trade in program for TXs or RXs that were in the range that are no longer legal as of last year. Because of this, I'm currently stuck with three sets of UWP-D11 transmitters and receivers as well as one URX-P03D two cannel receiver and one UTX-P03 plug-on transmitter. That's $2,830 worth of useless wireless systems sitting in my office that have essentially no future.


So as others have mentioned your gear will continue to remain usable until T-Mobile decides to turn on transmission towers near you, or until July 2020 when the wireless frequency band that was sold in the incentive auction (614-698 MHz to be specifict) becomes illegal to use for wireless mics.

 

You will still be able to use your Sony wireless covering channels 30-36, as they're below 608 MHz and unaffected by the incentive auction. Your wireless covering channels 38-41 will however be more difficult to use, but not altogether useless. As it was alluded, there will be a guard band from 614-616 Hz which unlicensed operators can use, and the duplex gap from 653-657 MHz which only licensed operators can use, both at a max 20mW EIRP. As long as you can find some frequencies to operate within those bands, your gear will continue to remain legally operational.
 

1 hour ago, Rustic River said:

I'm frustrated about this and don't understand why there isn't a way that Sony or other companies could swap out the internal components in these systems to make them work under different frequencies. I wouldn't mind paying for it because that would likely be much cheaper than simply having to buy all new ones.

 

What is everyone else doing to work around this? I know that in audio $2,830 isn't all that much, but I've already dropped so much into audio the past several years (around $20,000) that it's super frustrating that I have to spend even more.


It's not so simple. I can't speak on behalf of Sony, but I do know for a fact that other manufacturers are indeed re-blocking wireless for their customers, including Lectrosonics, Sennheiser and Zaxcom. The other problem has to do with the FCC. To quote Gotham Sound:

 

"The FCC deadline on selling legacy wireless equipment is the end of September (two weeks). Though you will be able to continue to use older equipment (as long as it complies with legal frequencies and power output), manufacturers will not be able to sell any components that have not been re-certified by the FCC, including the components that are necessary for moving your wireless to a different frequency."

 

So that also comes into consideration.

Vendors like Gotham Sound are making it an even better deal by offering things like store credit for a limited time:
https://www.gothamsound.com/news/get-2x-your-money-when-you-trade-your-600-mhz-wireless?utm_source=Gotham+Gazette&utm_campaign=d6ca77e48a-New+Products+from+Denecke%2C+Lectro%2C+and+MozeGe&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cbb4c598a-d6ca77e48a-110987297

 

Anyway, I understand the frustration, but you're not completely out of luck here. There are options.

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They have to find you first

I have multiple FCC licenses and don’t need the aggravation  so I just traded in older gear took the hit and now have some new bits of gear. 

 

My guess is unless you are working the SuperBowl or other similar events you can continue to use 600mhz and up with little issues.

if something breaks though you may find it difficult to have serviced

YMMV

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36 minutes ago, drpro said:

They have to find you first

 

But I think in this case, the "they" is T-Mobile et al, not the FCC. And since the 600MHz band is being used for LTE/5G cell/mobile stuff, there are lots of sites and devices. And I think T will be sensitive to interference and will be able to fairly easily prepare a note to send to FCC Enforcement Bureau offices. 

 

T-Mobile 600 MHz Extended Range LTE Now Live in 900+ Cities & Towns, Coming to Puerto Rico

June 06, 2018

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/extended-range-lte-puerto-rico

 

It's just not feeling, to me, like the 700MHz rollout/ban. It's feeling faster, to me at least...

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Yes. It really depends on how you feel. Mixers all over LA continued using Block 27/28 for years when they became illegal, and many still do.

 

Until the FCC police come after me, or I have no usable frequencies, I am going to keep using my gear. When it is no longer viable, I will try to sell it off overseas.

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Use away--if they get shirty they may confiscate your gear, but they will have much bigger interference issues to deal with than you unless you do something really dumb (like try to use them at a political event without talking to a freq coordinator, who will tell you you can't use those freqs in any case at her event).  It is true that some mfrs have offered some deals on reblocking, but don't feel too bad about missing out because A: those reblockings were not cheap and B: they only applied to relatively new gear.   A soundie who is using radios in the various now-proscribed blocks might well be one on a budget who bought their radios used, meaning they are more than likely too old for reblocking anyhow.  If you plan to work @ big events, take the pain and pony up.  For small, short schedule jobs, be aware of where you are shooting and don't advertise what freqs you are using.  The tech co's will blow everyone off the air soon enough.

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I feel your pain because we have tens of thousands of dollars in 600MHz systems that will be illegal in a couple of years too.  Some we have been able to get re-blocked, but even though that was less expensive than buying new, it still was a significant cost.

 

Those Sony transmitters look like they have a 30mW power output setting and a 5mW power setting.  After July 13, 2020 the legal power limit for operating in the duplex gap and guard band will be 20mW.  It is doubtful whether 5mW would be useful and the 30mW setting would be illegal - but if there is no resale value to speak of, it may be worth hanging onto them and seeing how they do.

 

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