Tuomo Tolonen, Pro Audio Group manager and RF specialist at SDUK
The Netherlands - Shure Distribution UK (SDUK) used ISE 2015 to focus on awareness of the importance of RF spectrum availability for all users of wireless microphones. Under the slogan 'Losing Your Voice', SDUK are aiming at the growing market of professional and semi-professional users of RF technology, from the conference audio and systems integrators at ISE to live performers and organisers of commercial and non-commercial events.

The goal is to better inform this wide range of users about the growing challenges to the unhindered use of wireless microphone systems as a result of continued UHF spectrum allocation to the mobile communications and data industries.

"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 sector, or PMSE as it's known, where these systems first became popular," explains Tuomo Tolonen, Pro Audio Group manager and RF specialist at SDUK. "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."

SDUK is making a new easy-to-read Guide To Wireless Frequencies in the UK available for download, and launching a new dedicated web site, http://losingyourvoice.co.uk. 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", and explain how to learn more about the current situation, and to prepare for the next round of changes.

"Over the last 10 years, as the numbers of users of wireless systems has been steadily increasing in all these areas, the spectrum required to make these systems operate without interference has been steadily whittled away," comments Tuomo Tolonen, "and of course that process hasn't ended yet."

Following the 2012 Digital Dividend, UK wireless users lost access to the 800MHz band (790-862MHz), dedicated frequencies that were once set aside for their exclusive use (TV Channel 69), and were granted - after much lobbying - the use of a new band of frequencies. However, the reprieve may only be temporary. In November last year, Ofcom announced its intention to fully clear 694-790MHz as early as 2020 from use by wireless microphone operators, as this portion of spectrum is now also earmarked for auction to mobile data and telecommunication users.

"Of course, this isn't about trying to paint mobile technology as some kind of enemy," continues Tuomo 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 on-going 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."

"Over the past few years, we've put a lot of effort into informing wireless microphone users about the changes they have had to confront to keep using their systems, and Losing Your Voice is the latest extension of that," comments Kirsty Lamport, SDUK head of marketing. "Shure has developed a lot of technology to help users of wireless mics make more efficient use of the shrinking spectrum, and we will continue to inform industry users about the planned changes and what they can do to work with them - so that none of us lose our voice."

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