Radio microphone users will not be permitted to operate their equipment in the 698-806MHz frequency range – the 700MHz band of the radio spectrum - as early as next month, with the change set to take effect from March 11.
According to Radio Spectrum Management, those who currently operate within that band will need to retune their equipment or replace it.
Radio microphones operate within the frequencies allocated primarily to television broadcasting, using frequencies that are not being used by television in a particular area.
Previously, the entire 510-806MHz range was allocated for television but now that analogue television has been switched off, the 700MHz band is no longer required for television because the new digital services are more spectrally efficient.
The 700MHz band has, instead, been allocated for mobile broadband, such as 4G cellular, which radio microphones are not compatible with - this is because 4G cellular services don't leave the same gaps in the spectrum and thus interference will be more likely.
Consequently, from March 11, radio microphones must operate within the frequency ranges 502-606MHz and 622-698MHz with the 606-622MHz range allocated for the Maori Television Services.
The specific frequencies available for radio microphones in any particular area will depend on the frequencies used by television in that area.
Radio Spectrum Management says radio microphone suppliers should be able to provide advice on the most suitable frequency range for specific devices, depending on where they will be used.
It also recommends that users purchase radio microphones capable of being tuned to different frequencies, rather than single-frequency devices.
Compliance action may be taken against a radio microphone user who continues to operate it on the 700MHz band or other non-permitted frequencies from the issued date.