[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 204 (Monday, October 22, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 64446-64450]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-25825]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 15, 74, and 90

[WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-167, ET Docket No. 10-24; DA 12-1570]


Wireless Microphones Proceeding

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule; comments requested.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and 
the Office of Engineering and Technology invite interested parties to 
update and refresh the record pertaining to two specific issues raised 
in the Commission's 2010 Wireless Microphones further notice of 
proposed rulemaking.

DATES: Interested parties may file comments on or before November 21, 
2012, and reply comments on or before December 12, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WT Docket Nos. 08-
166, 08-167, ET Docket No. 10-24, by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    [ssquf] Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
    [ssquf] Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [ssquf] People With Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Stafford, Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau, (202) 418-0563, or Alan Stillwell, Office of 
Engineering and Technology, (202) 418-2470.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Public 
Notice released on October 5, 2012. The full text of the public notice 
is available for inspection and copying during business hours in the 
FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room 
CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. It may also be purchased from the 
Commission's duplicating contractor at Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., 
Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554; the contractor's Web site, http://www.bcpiweb.com; or by calling (800) 378-3160, facsimile (202) 488-
5563, or email FCC@BCPIWEB.com. Copies of the public notice also may be 
obtained via the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) 
by entering the following docket numbers: WT Docket Nos. 08-166, 08-
167, and ET Docket No. 10-24. Additionally, the complete item is 
available on the Federal Communications Commission's Web site at http://www.fcc.gov.
    The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of 
Engineering and Technology invite interested parties to update and 
refresh the record pertaining to two specific issues raised in the 
Commission's 2010 Wireless Microphones Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking \1\--(1) whether the Commission should provide for a limited 
expansion of license eligibility that would permit some wireless 
microphone and other low power auxiliary station users, which currently 
operate in the TV broadcast spectrum on an unlicensed basis, to operate 
on a licensed basis under the part 74 rules applicable to low power 
auxiliary stations (LPAS); and (2) what steps the Commission should 
take to promote more efficient use of this spectrum by wireless 
microphones.\2\ The Commission asks that these comments take into 
consideration recent industry developments, including advances in 
wireless microphone technologies, as

[[Page 64447]]

well as related Commission proceedings that affect use of wireless 
microphones, including the TV White Spaces proceeding \3\ and the 
Incentive Auctions proceeding proposing auction of spectrum currently 
allocated to television broadcasting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See Revisions to Rules Authorizing the Operation of Low 
Power Auxiliary Stations in the 698-806 MHz Band, WT Docket No. 08-
166, Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, Petition for Rulemaking 
Regarding Low Power Auxiliary Stations, Including Wireless 
Microphones, and the Digital Television Transition, WT Docket No. 
08-167, Amendment of Parts 15, 74 and 90 of the Commission's Rules 
Regarding Low Power Auxiliary Stations, Including Wireless 
Microphones, ET Docket No. 10-24, Report and Order and Further 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 75 FR 3622, 75 FR 3682, 25 FCC Rcd 
643 (2010) (Wireless Microphones Order and Wireless Microphones 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, respectively).
    \2\ In the Incentive Auctions NPRM adopted on September 28, 
2012, the Commission noted that it would be issuing this public 
notice to refresh the record on expanding eligibility for licensed 
operations to specified classes of users, and on improved efficiency 
standards. See Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities 
of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, GN Docket No. 12-268, Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 12-118, para. 224 n. 354 (adopted Sept. 
28, 2012) (Incentive Auctions NPRM).
    \3\ Unlicensed Operation in the TV Broadcast Bands, ET Docket 
No. 04-186, Additional Spectrum for Unlicensed Devices Below 900 MHz 
and in the 3 GHz Band, ET Docket No. 02-380, Second Memorandum 
Opinion and Order, 75 FR 75814, 25 FCC Rcd 18661 (2010) (TV White 
Spaces Second MO&O). See also Unlicensed Operation in the TV 
Broadcast Bands, ET Docket No. 04-186, Third Memorandum Opinion and 
Order, 77 FR 29236, 27 FCC Rcd 3692 (2012).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Background

    In the Wireless Microphones Further Notice adopted in January 2010, 
the Commission sought comment on the use of wireless microphones and 
other low power auxiliary stations on an unlicensed basis in the 
current TV bands (Channels 2-51, excluding Channel 37). Noting that the 
Commission currently permits such operations pursuant to the waiver 
granted in the Wireless Microphones Order, the Commission specifically 
proposed that wireless microphones that operate on an unlicensed basis 
pursuant to that waiver be permitted to operate in the TV bands 
pursuant to part 15 and certain specified technical rules. In addition, 
the Commission sought comment on whether it should revise the part 74 
low power auxiliary station (LPAS) rules to provide for a limited 
expansion of the categories of entities that would be eligible for 
licensed use of wireless microphones and other related LPAS. The 
Commission also sought comment on possible long-term reform, based in 
part on technological innovations that would enable wireless 
microphones to operate more efficiently and with improved immunity to 
harmful interference, thereby increasing the spectrum available for 
wireless microphones and other uses.
    Subsequently, in the TV White Spaces Second MO&O adopted in 
September 2010, the Commission took additional steps to make unused 
spectrum in the TV bands available for use by unlicensed TV band 
devices (referenced herein as ``white space devices'') and addressed 
the operations of both licensed and unlicensed wireless microphones 
with respect to unlicensed white space devices. The Commission 
generally excluded white space devices from two of the unused channels 
in the UHF TV band near Channel 37 so that if these channels were 
available they could be used for wireless microphones. In addition, the 
Commission provided that LPAS licensees could register their wireless 
microphones (and related low power auxiliary station operations) in the 
TV bands databases so that they may be protected from interference from 
unlicensed white space devices on available channels at specified 
times. The Commission, subject to its approval, also permitted certain 
unlicensed microphone users (e.g., those operating at major events 
where wireless microphone operations cannot be accommodated on channels 
not available for white space devices) to register their wireless 
microphone operations in the TV bands databases. More recently, in the 
Incentive Auctions NPRM adopted on September 28, 2012, the Commission 
proposed to repack television stations. Noting that this action may 
reduce the spectrum available in the TV bands for secondary use by 
licensed and unlicensed wireless microphones as well as for unlicensed 
white space devices, the Commission sought comment on various proposals 
that would affect each of these operations. Specifically, the 
Commission sought comment on what additional steps it could take to 
promote more efficient and effective operation of wireless microphones 
in the spectrum that remained for TV broadcast.

Updating and Refreshing the Record

    Considering the time that has passed since the Commission issued 
the Wireless Microphones Further Notice, and in light of the TV White 
Spaces Second MO&O and the recently issued Incentive Auctions NPRM, the 
Commission asks that interested parties refresh and update the record 
on the following issues.
    Expansion of Part 74 eligibility. In the Wireless Microphones 
Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on whether to revise its 
rules to provide for a ``limited'' expansion of eligibility under part 
74, subpart H of the rules to provide additional categories of users 
eligible for licensed use of wireless microphones or other low power 
auxiliary stations. In the Wireless Microphones Further Notice, the 
Commission noted that wireless microphones and other low power 
auxiliary station devices had been recognized as necessary and 
beneficial to broadcast productions, and had expanded the list of 
entities eligible for a part 74 license over time to include motion 
picture and television producers and certain cable television 
operators, reasoning that these entities had requirements similar to 
those of broadcast licensees. The Commission asked extensive questions 
about whether to authorize licensed wireless microphone use at certain 
large theaters, entertainment complexes, sporting arenas, and religious 
facilities, because these venues might need the assurance of 
interference protections afforded part 74 LPAS licensees. The 
Commission underscored the need to balance the needs of potential new 
classes of wireless microphone licensees with those of other users in 
the TV bands and expressed particular concern that any ``broad 
expansion'' of eligibility could undercut that balance by significantly 
reducing the amount of spectrum available for other uses, such as by 
white space devices. The Commission also indicated that it would take 
into consideration whether it would be practical for any new licensees 
to comply with the requirement that part 74 licensees coordinate 
frequencies and provide up-to-date information on venues and times of 
operations to the TV bands database system on an ongoing basis so that 
they do not otherwise block use to others at times when there is no 
need.
    In the subsequently released TV White Spaces Second MO&O, the 
Commission determined that only a small subset of unlicensed wireless 
microphone users would qualify for registration in the TV bands 
database system. Specifically, the Commission stated that ``[a]s a 
general matter, we * * * find that it would be inappropriate to protect 
unlicensed wireless microphones against harmful interference from other 
unlicensed devices, and in particular TV bands devices'' and observed 
that the ``overwhelming majority'' of wireless microphone use does not 
merit registration in the TV bands database. The Commission noted that 
in the vast majority of markets, or to the extent that the number of 
wireless microphones needed is relatively low, the operator of 
unlicensed microphones can avoid receiving harmful interference from TV 
white space devices by using the two reserved channels as well as the 
other channels in each market where white space devices are not allowed 
to operate. The Commission nonetheless provided that ``[e]ntities 
operating or otherwise responsible for the audio systems at major 
events where large numbers of wireless microphones will be used and 
cannot be accommodated in the available channels at that location may 
request registration of the site in the TV bands databases.'' The 
Commission further indicated that ``major sporting contests'' and 
``live theatrical productions/shows'' are examples of major events that 
might qualify for registration. Such entities may request Commission 
approval so

[[Page 64448]]

that they can register unlicensed microphones at particular venues and 
specified times in the TV bands database system and obtain the same 
protection from interference from unlicensed white space devices 
afforded licensed wireless microphone operations.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ 47 CFR 15.713(h)(9). We note also that OET and WTB have 
announced the initial launch of the unlicensed wireless microphone 
registration system, and have provided guidance on aspects of the 
registration process. See Office of Engineering and Technology and 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announce the Initial Launch of 
Unlicensed Wireless Microphone Registration System, Registration 
Open in East Coast Region: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Virginia, and North Carolina, ET 
Docket No. 04-186, Public Notice, DA 12-1514 (OET/WTB, released 
Sept. 19, 2012) (Public Notice on Registration of Unlicensed 
Wireless Microphones).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Commission requests that interested parties update and refresh 
the record on whether the Commission should expand license eligibility 
under part 74, subpart H for certain operators of unlicensed wireless 
microphones or other low power auxiliary devices at specified venues. 
The Commission asks that commenters advocating an expansion of the 
eligibility requirements for part 74 LPAS licensing be as specific as 
possible. To the extent that the Commission chooses to expand license 
eligibility only for certain users that have wireless microphone 
requirements substantially similar to those of broadcasters, precisely 
which class(es) of users and uses would fall into this category? More 
specifically, which type(s) or class(es) of entities and which type(s) 
of venues or events--whether by type of event, level of quality of 
service necessary for the event (e.g., ``professional quality''), 
number of microphones needed, number of seats in auditorium, or some 
other qualification or measure--should become eligible to hold a 
license. Should, for example, the Commission expand license eligibility 
for some or all of the users or entities that are permitted to register 
venues for unlicensed wireless microphone use in the TV bands database 
system? Examples might include entities responsible for major 
production events that take place at such venues as Madison Square 
Garden or Broadway theaters in New York City, the Kennedy Center in 
Washington, DC, and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Consistent with 
this approach, what other concrete examples would qualify? If the 
Commission were to expand part 74 license eligibility for all of these 
entities operating at such venues, how, precisely, would the Commission 
define or classify such class(es) of entities in its eligibility rules?
    Should the Commission establish more specific criteria for 
eligibility for a low power auxiliary station license at a specified 
venue? For instance, the Commission could require that an entity 
applying for a license establish each of the following--(1) that the 
specified venue periodically hosts events that require the same level 
of ``professional'' high production-quality audio as the type needed 
for broadcast productions; (2) that these events involve a live 
production, with an audience in attendance, or a rehearsal for such 
events; and (3) that the venue size meets specified criteria depending 
on the type of venue or event (e.g., for theaters used for professional 
productions or house of worship venues, a minimum of 1,000 fixed seats; 
for auditoriums or convention centers, a space capacity-rated for 3,000 
people; for sports venues, a minimum of 10,000 seats for indoors, and 
25,000 seats for outdoors)? The Commission asks for comment on this or 
similar approaches. If the Commission were to take this type of 
approach, how would it determine which entities meet the first 
criterion regarding a need for ``professional'' quality production? To 
the extent the venue uses a professional production company or 
professional frequency coordinator, would this be sufficient to 
establish that the venue merits licensing? To what extent should the 
Commission consider the need to operate at part 74 technical parameters 
(e.g., higher power)? As for the third element, the Commission asks 
that commenters be specific when discussing which categories of venue 
(e.g., stadium or amphitheater) or capacity measurements (e.g., number 
of seats) would be appropriate. To what extent should the Commission 
also require that an entity show that it would have need for a 
specified minimum number of microphones (e.g., 100 or more) at a venue? 
The Commission seeks comment on these various proposals.
    The Commission also seeks comment on which type(s) of entities 
would hold the license for operations at a specified venue. Should the 
Commission only license specific venues? Under such an approach, a 
venue (or a responsible party for the venue) would be licensed, the 
venue could be registered in the TV bands database system, and the 
venue operator, or professional audio companies that act as agents 
under a venue's license when carrying out their engineering 
responsibilities, could then work directly with the TV database 
administrators to register the needed wireless microphone channels for 
particular events and times. Alternatively, might the Commission 
license professional production companies for operations at specified 
venues? The Commission seeks comment on these or other approaches.
    Expanding eligibility for operations at nuclear facilities. In the 
Wireless Microphones Further Notice, the Commission also sought comment 
on possible expansion of license eligibility for the special case 
involving the use of low power auxiliary station operations at nuclear 
power plant facilities. Specifically, it sought comment on the 
possibility of expanding eligibility to allow nuclear power plant 
operators to obtain licenses under part 90 to operate certain low power 
auxiliary station equipment, certificated for use under subpart H of 
part 74 of the rules, inside nuclear facilities. The Commission takes 
this opportunity to allow commenters to refresh the record on expanding 
eligibility to include such applications for these operators. For 
example, commenters may wish to address whether any additional means of 
meeting the operational communications needs of nuclear facilities have 
become available. If the Commission were to expand eligibility for part 
74 licensing to nuclear power plant owners and operators, should it 
restrict operation of the equipment to indoor use or should use be 
permitted anywhere within the plant's security perimeter? If outdoor 
use is permitted, should it be limited to particular plant operations 
such as fuel handling?
    More efficient wireless microphones through technological 
advancements. As discussed above, in the Wireless Microphones Further 
Notice, the Commission expressed its intent to develop longer-term 
solutions that would help ensure that wireless microphones operate more 
efficiently and effectively on spectrum available for their use, and 
sought comment on potential technological innovations that would 
promote more efficient wireless microphone operations and thereby 
increase the availability of spectrum for wireless microphone and other 
uses. In the TV White Spaces Second MO&O, the Commission observed that 
wireless microphones generally have operated inefficiently, and noted 
that while wireless microphone users may believe they need access to 
more spectrum, any such needs ``must be accommodated through 
improvements in spectrum efficiency.'' In the Incentive Auctions NPRM, 
the Commission again noted the importance of more efficient wireless 
microphone operations, and sought comment on steps it should take to 
ensure that any broadcast spectrum

[[Page 64449]]

available after repacking is used efficiently and effectively by 
wireless microphones. The Commission seeks to refresh and update the 
record on potential longer term solutions to the operation of wireless 
microphones.
    As the Commission observed in the Wireless Microphones Further 
Notice, the majority of wireless microphones that currently operate in 
the UHF TV bands are frequency modulated analog devices that operate 
with a bandwidth of up to 200 kHz. Because of a number of factors, 
including the need to avoid intermodulation interference among the 
devices, the maximum number of wireless microphones that these analog 
devices can operate simultaneously in a 6 megahertz TV channel may be 
as few as six or eight. Accordingly, with the use of these analog 
wireless microphones, only between 1.2 and 1.6 megahertz of the 6 
megahertz TV channel may be used while the remainder is effectively 
left fallow. This constitutes very inefficient use of valuable 
spectrum. As the Commission noted, most other radio communications 
services have shifted from analog to digital technology to improve 
spectrum efficiency and resistance to interference.
    The Commission asks that commenters update the record on advances 
in the wireless microphone technologies that are enabling more 
efficient use of spectrum. In particular, the Commission asks that 
commenters provide detailed information on the use of more efficient 
advanced digital technologies. The Commission notes that Shure recently 
introduced digital wireless microphones that operate in the UHF band 
that can support up to 14-15 systems on a single 6 megahertz TV 
channel. Sennheiser has similarly announced its new digital microphone 
for the UHF band, which uses technology that allows operation of up to 
12 wireless microphones on a six megahertz channel. The Commission 
seeks comment on the state of development of digital technologies from 
these and other wireless microphone manufacturers, and further 
development that is anticipated over the next few years. The Commission 
asks that commenters present information on the production values, 
interference implications, and performance impact of these new 
microphones. What bandwidth efficiencies are achievable while still 
maintaining adequate performance for the specific use? What are the 
interference implications, particularly as they relate to 
intermodulation interference on packing more microphones into less 
bandwidth? Are there filters available to mitigate these effects? How 
does the fidelity and latency of these new microphones compare to 
existing equipment and are they adequate for professional musical and 
theatrical performances?
    What steps should the Commission take to require or encourage 
further development of digital wireless microphones? For example, to 
accommodate more efficient use, should the Commission implement a 
requirement to reduce the bandwidth below 200 kHz over an appropriate 
period of time, and if so what timeframe would make sense from an 
equipment development and user transition point of view? The Commission 
notes that the Commission has adopted requirements to promote spectrum-
efficient technology for other operations, and the Commission asks that 
in updating the record in this proceeding commenters address whether 
the Commission should adopt efficiency standards for wireless 
microphones to encourage spectral efficiency. If so, how should the 
Commission establish those standards, and what timeframes would be 
appropriate to transition to any such standards? The Commission also 
seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should facilitate a 
transition to digital wireless microphones.
    Other issues. The Wireless Microphones Further Notice raised 
several other issues (e.g., authorizing unlicensed wireless microphone 
operations in the TV bands pursuant to particular rules, or taking 
steps additional to authorize wireless microphone operations outside of 
the TV band under other rules). To the extent necessary or appropriate, 
commenters should feel free to refresh or update the record on other 
issues raised in the Wireless Microphones Further Notice that have been 
affected by more recent developments or by the two related proceedings 
if this would help ensure that the Commission can fully address the 
issues raised in the Wireless Microphones Further Notice.

Procedural Matters

    This proceeding has been designated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' 
proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons 
making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written 
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within 
two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline 
applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex 
parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the 
presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise 
participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was 
made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during 
the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of 
the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the 
presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the 
proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or 
arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings 
(specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data 
or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with Sec.  1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by 
Sec.  1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method 
of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda 
summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, 
must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available 
for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., 
.doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding 
should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [ssquf] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the

[[Page 64450]]

Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of 
before entering the building.
    [ssquf] Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    [ssquf] U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    People With Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).

Federal Communications Commission.
Ruth Milkman,
Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
Julius Knapp,
Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology.
[FR Doc. 2012-25825 Filed 10-19-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P