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Wanting to add Lectrosonics to my audio bag but hesitate for the price, so planning to get the used block 25/26, I'm aware they aren't legal.. but curious what is the chance of getting caught and fined?


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It isn't just about being fined or caught (which you will if working in a major city like the GTA)...you may not even get those blocks to work in many areas.  If your entire range is bricked on the day you need them, you'll wish you spent the extra $ to get the legal blocks. 

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I know a friend who when encountering overly cluttered 19/20 will bring out her 26 to reveal a very clean scan. However,on occasion, she says she gets an electronic high pitch fluttering noise but only in certain geographic locations. Some areas are rural. No where near a city.

 

But hey, 5G telco is even screwing up rf relient altimeters in current aircraft.

 

Way to go FCC brainiacs.

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Parts of BL 25 are legal and very very clear in the duplex gap.

Everyone sold theirs off for close to nothing and now they are coveted.

I can drop a dozen in this space and have been for a good while.

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I still have a couple block 26 hops and there have been times that they are better than my A1 hops.  I don’t use them in coordinated venues (for obvious reasons) and I have zero concern of “getting caught” using them.  If I did, I would immediately go to a convenient store and spend the day rate on lottery tickets, because the odds are about the same…

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On 7/10/2022 at 5:02 PM, thenannymoh said:

It isn't just about being fined or caught (which you will if working in a major city like the GTA)...


I’m not sure I agree with this statement. I have yet to hear about a single case of a production sound mixer getting in trouble for operating on illegal channels. Not to mention there are gaps in block 24 and 25 that are legal to use with limitations. 

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3 minutes ago, Derek H said:


I’m not sure I agree with this statement. I have yet to hear about a single case of a production sound mixer getting in trouble for operating on illegal channels. Not to mention there are gaps in block 24 and 25 that are legal to use with limitations. 

Well they certainly aren't going to let you fire up illegal blocks on a lot or a coordinated event.

I think when it is all said and done, yeah, if you are someone that is running around doing doc work / smaller stuff, it's probably "fine" but at the end of the day, my #1 mission objective while filming is to get clean, reliable sound so I know, at least in terms of my gear, I want stuff that works and works reliably so that I can deliver results my clients pay me for.

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You can certainly get busted for being out of legal and or assigned bands at events that have on-it freq coordinators--it has happened to me.  But in the "wild' where most of us work (ie locations) I have not heard of that happening so far.  But I have been warned by my local FCC coordinator that it IS possible.

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3 hours ago, Derek H said:


I’m not sure I agree with this statement. I have yet to hear about a single case of a production sound mixer getting in trouble for operating on illegal channels. Not to mention there are gaps in block 24 and 25 that are legal to use with limitations. 

 

l think it differs from place to place.  Note that the OP is in Canada, and I was making reference to experiences in major Canadian cities.  I know of at least one mixer who fired up the wireless in an illegal block in Toronto, and was met within a few hours by someone telling him to shut it down.

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I won't name names, but I do know of a prominent film mixer who got a visit from Rogers because they were getting interference from a wireless mic in downtown Vancouver.  He was on legal frequencies, so they concluded it wasn't him, but it definitely shows that you can be noticed if you are in an urban area.

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I've heard from a coordinator at one of our stadiums that they end up chasing down a lot of crews using wireless outside of the stadium, but within range enough to be picked up.  While that's an avoidable situation, it highlights how one could easily not realize they are shooting in an area where someone's paying attention.

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On 7/12/2022 at 7:42 AM, Derek H said:


I’m not sure I agree with this statement. I have yet to hear about a single case of a production sound mixer getting in trouble for operating on illegal channels. Not to mention there are gaps in block 24 and 25 that are legal to use with limitations. 

I know someone who was busted for using illegal blocks. It is real. 

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I think the odds of getting caught depend on how much the particular frequency in your location are being used, and by whom. Like are lots of white-spaces devices being used, and is someone working for the license holder super vigilant right now?

 

I -USED- to know how the US FCC Enforcement Bureau worked. Interviewed some people there for a story that focused on pirate radio, LPFM, and spectrum policy in general. But this was 18-20 years ago, so I remember little and things might have changed. I.e., I might have this totally wrong.

 

IIRC, the FCC isn't endlessly driving around in vans fishing for people operating on frequencies they shouldn't be on. They're waiting for a complaint. "My favorite radio station isn't coming in clearly." "I'm an engineer at a licensed FM station and here are the frequencies some pirates are operating on. And here are pictures of the building where the transmissions are originating." Or in theory, these days, "We paid a lot of money to use these frequencies. Get those freeloaders off 'our' spectrum! Here's where you can find them. Sincerely, Lawyers Working for Verizon/T-Mobile/etc." 

 

And then the FCC will maybe send out someone, and/or send out a notice of apparent violation (or some such language) that says stop now of you'll face big fines, like $10,000 or a million or something.

 

You can check out the FCC's enforcement actions in this database. On Friday, the FCC sent out notices to five pirate radio stations in New York. And there are lots of robocall notices. I did a quick (and probably incomplete) search for wireless/600MHz notices and didn't see anything. Perhaps at this point, for small-time violations, the user gets a semi-friendly "shut down now" chat with someone from the FCC, and there's not an official notice but the local FCC people take note of the user's name, frequencies, etc....  

https://www.fcc.gov/enforcement/orders

 

And for yucks, here's a map the FCC made of their pirate radio enforcement actions from late 2012 to mid 2020:

https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/fcc-enforcement-actions-against-pirate-radio-location/

 

This might be where you'd find enforcement actions in Canada, though this might be the wrong data base:

https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/ce/actions.htm

 

Someone like Bill Ruck, a local radio engineer whom I don't know (but at least one person here does), could probably fill us in. He was down on unlicensed/pirate radio, but also does work for some licensed low-power FM stations. Or someone from Lectro, Shure, Zax, etc. who may have heard from customers who've been visited and have spoken directly with people at the FCC et al about this...

 

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1 minute ago, Jim Feeley said:

On Friday, the FCC sent out notices to five pirate radio stations in New York.

Kind of wild that there are that many pirate radio stations in 2022 let alone in one city.  I guess there were some "vague rules" about low powered broadcasting in the late 80s/early 90s so my alma mater college radio station put up a low powered antenna and began broadcasting all throughout Orange County.  Well, that didn't go well when the FCC showed up and wanted to fine them $100k about 10 years later and thus they went to online broadcast only through a T1 line at first.  By the time I had a show, it was internet only sadly.

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2 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

This might be where you'd find enforcement actions in Canada, though this might be the wrong data base:

https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/ce/actions.htm

I kind of doubt there's much CRTC enforcement — the CRTC covers a lot more than just radio spectrum, and they are pretty stretched for resources.  Certainly, there's no spectrum enforcement listed in that database — most of the entries relate to spam enforcement and abuse of voter lists.  The only telecom-related item is a violation by Northwestel of rules around what they are allowed to charge — definitely no enforcement of pirate radio or small-time sound mixers ;)  I can't say I disagree with those priorities.

The enforcement I'm aware of in Canada is all private — Rogers & other operators will hunt you down if you are interfering, and presumably, they could file a complaint with the CRTC and drag you through years of bureaucratic hell that may end in a fine.  Or possibly, sue you directly.  But I've never heard of the government getting involved.

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16 hours ago, Derek H said:

Thanks Jon, do you know what band they were operating in? 

I believe it was block 27. And from what I remember, it was a wireless service provider van that picked it up while driving by and hunted it down. 

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My gut feeling is that Jim Feely has the right idea. Verizon or T-Mobile can't send you a fine it has to come from the FCC and the FCC won't investigate anything unless there's a complaint from a license-holder. I think if we're strictly talking about operating in the block24/25 guard band or duplex gap then there is very little chance of getting a complaint directed at you. If you're out in the middle of block 27 or 28 or going rogue in 24/25 I'd be slightly more concerned.

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