FCC regulations permit wireless microphones and related devices to be operated on either a licensed or unlicensed basis. Unlicensed users (governed by Part 15 of the FCC Rules) are permitted to operate on any unoccupied TV channel at transmitter power levels up to 50 milliwatts. Licensed users (governed by Part 74 of the FCC Rules) are permitted to operate at power levels up to 250 milliwatts, and are granted expedited access to the TV Bands Devices Database.
Licensed users of wireless microphones are entitled to register in the TV Bands Devices Database or “geo-location” database for interference protection from unlicensed devices during a specific event at a particular location. Unlicensed users may apply to the FCC for database registration at least 30 days in advance of the event.
For many years, license eligibility under Part 74 was restricted to broadcasters and TV/film production companies.
In May 2014, the FCC announced the expansion of Part 74 license eligibility “to include professional sound companies and venues that routinely use 50 or more wireless microphones, where the use of wireless microphones is an integral part of the major productions or events they host.” This would provide theaters, venues, and event production companies the ability to operate wireless microphones at major events without interference from unlicensed TV Band Devices.
Further details regarding wireless microphone licensing are expected to be available in mid-2014.