Update: 700MHz clearance for wireless microphones and IEM systems

Since our last update on the 700MHz clearance for wireless microphones and IEM systems when Ofcom published their decisions on eligibility criteria for funding replacement/upgrades to affected equipment, Ofcom have:

  • Appointed Equiniti to handle the process.
  • Published their decision on additional funding alongside Version 1 of the rate card.
  • Clarified the eligibility criteria including confirming that funding applies to the whole 700MHz band (including the guard band) which was previously still under review.

The registration window for funding closes on 26/04/2019 – you must act soon to benefit.

What’s this all about again?

Over the next few years, European authorities are winding down the use of wireless in-ear-monitor systems and microphones in the 700 MHz band (694 MHz-790MHz) so that it can be used for telecoms (e.g. 5g mobile).

This clearance of spectrum has already started in some European countries including Germany and France, and is about to be rolled out in all countries depending on the timing of local regulations.

The current wireless microphones and IEM systems owned by event venues, broadcasters, and rental companies in the UK operating in this band could become unusable and it is worth checking your own stock now to ensure that you are prepared make the most of the trade-in and compensation options that are available to you.

What are the compensation / funding options available?

You can find details of the funding available on the latest Ofcom PMSE Equipment Funding Rate Card

How do I know if my equipment will be eligible?

Ofcom has recently clarified the criteria for eligibility for funding. In summary:

  • You must have held a license in the 700MHz band between 17th October 2014 and 23rd August 2018 (or be able to prove your business is based only on dry hire which would mean you don’t need a license).
  • You can only claim for equipment that actually belongs to you.
  • The equipment must be in working order.
  • The equipment must have been purchased before 23rd August 2018.
  • The equipment must have at least some of its tuning range in the 700Mhz band.

Additionally, if the total equipment replacement value of your whole claim is over £6,000 you will need to provide proof that you own the equipment. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Receipts or invoices detailing when the equipment was purchased
  2. Certified asset registers identifying equipment and when it was acquired

What about ancillary equipment?

Ancillary equipment is eligible if its related equipment is made unusable by the clearance. Ancillary equipment will be required to satisfy the above eligibility criteria (except for the tuning range requirement if it has no tuning function).

What do I need to do next?

Ofcom has outlined the process for the funding scheme along with dates for key activities:

Registration process commences and first letters issued

Ofcom Claims Management System (OCMS) portal and contact centre go-live

Registration Closes

Claims processing starts

June / July 2019
First deliveries from claimants

Claimant scheme closes

Claim processing ends

Once you have confirmed that you have eligible equipment, the first thing that you will need to do is register under the scheme. You can register or review your claim through the online portal which is now open here.

The online registration form will include questions about you, your business, the equipment that you plan to surrender or modify, details of where any claim amount should be paid, and a place to upload supporting documentation.

Once you have registered and claims processing starts you will need to package your equipment and send it to Equiniti by courier (Equiniti is the organisation that Ofcom has appointed to handle the claims process). They will send you a consignment pack through the post approximately 3 weeks before your equipment surrender date which will include:

  • An inventory of the equipment being returned
  • Barcodes to label your equipment
  • Instructions on how and where to send your equipment

I’m going to be trading in my equipment – what is Adlib currently suggesting I replace it with?

If you are working with relatively large numbers of wireless systems (or in congested areas such as central London) we are generally recommending looking at digital wireless systems.

Spectrum is becoming increasingly congested and we’ve been investing in digital wireless systems for a number of years for our own hire stock because they allow us to pack more channels of microphones and IEMs into less spectrum than analog systems.

The Sennheiser D6000 and Shure Axient Digital ranges are both excellent value for money although may be at the slightly higher end than some smaller venues and rental companies can justify.

With that in mind you might also consider the Sennheiser 1G8 system. These are Sennheiser 100 series G4 system in the 1G8 band (1785 – 1800 MHz). This range is included in the PMSE shared license and is very under-utilised compared with channel 38. It is a very clean part of the radio spectrum so even at low power you can receive good signal from the transmitters without a complex antenna system

Of course, it’s also worth a reminder that the new Sennheiser G4 systems have been available for a number of months and are fully backward compatible with G3 systems including sonic characteristics. This means there is no problem upgrading your stock of 700MHz G3 systems now whilst keeping your stock of G3 in other ranges.

We do have some special deals available on Sennheiser ew 500 G4 Vocal sets including the ew 500 G4-965 and ew 500 G4-KK205 sets until 19th April and you can get in touch with our sales team  at sales@adlib.co.uk or 0151 486 2213 for full details of these offers.

Sennheiser has put together a helpful tool that will recommend appropriate systems for you here.

Do you still have questions?

If you have any questions about the changes, or would like a quote for an equipment upgrade, feel free to get in touch with Al Mouat in our sales department who will be happy to help at sales@adlib.co.uk or 0151 486 2213.

If you are looking at complex systems or larger upgrades, we have a team of in-house wireless system experts who will be more than happy to have a chat with you to help you work out the best options. Just ask Al when you speak to him and he will connect you with the right person.