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United States: Key FCC Regulations (EAS and Wireless Microphones) to be discussed in the February MeetingUnited States
February 8, 2024

The FCC released on January 25th the tentative agenda for their monthly meeting, to be held on February 15th. This agenda in particular contains two separate proposals for rulemaking that would potentially impact the standards and requirements for Equipment Authorization.

  1. Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System 

Purpose: The document is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that seeks to improve the accessibility of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for persons who speak a primary language other than English.

Proposed method: The document proposes and requests comments on a simplified multilingual alert processing approach for the EAS, whereby pre-written alerts (or “templates”) that have been pre-translated into 13 common non-English languages, as well as like English and American Sign Language (ASL), can be initiated by alert originators for distribution to the public by EAS participants, which are TV and radio, cable, and other service providers.

Expected benefits: The paper expects that this method will eliminate the translation difficulties associated with the issuance of multilingual EAS alerts, and will make the issuance of multilingual alerts simpler and more accessible to alert originators, which should lead to an increased issuance of multilingual alerts. This would allow access to EAS alerts by people who do not speak English as their primary language, the vast majority of whom would be accessing an EAS alert for the first time.

Comments requested: The document requests comments on the effectiveness and feasibility of distributing multilingual EAS alerts in the form of templates, as well as on the associated costs and benefits, implementation timelines and procedures, and the Commission’s legal authority to adopt this measure.

  1. Amendment of Parts 15 and 74 of the Rules for Wireless Microphones in the TV Bands, 600 MHz Guard Band, 600 MHz Duplex Gap, and the 941.5-944 MHz, 944-952 MHz, 952.850-956.250 MHz, 956.45-959.85 MHz, 1435-1525 MHz, 6875-6900 MHz and 7100-7125 MHz Bands

The document outlines the objectives of the FCC’s Report and Order on wireless microphones, which are to:

Promote efficient spectrum use by allowing a new type of wireless microphone system, Wireless Multichannel Audio System (WMAS), to operate in the TV bands and other Part 74 LPAS frequency bands on a licensed basis, and in the TV bands and 600 MHz duplex gap on an unlicensed basis1.

Update the existing Part 74 and Part 15 technical rules for wireless microphones to incorporate the latest version of the ETSI standard, which specifies the emission masks and spurious emission limits for WMAS and other wireless microphones2.

Remove outdated or unnecessary rules that are no longer relevant after the post-Incentive Auction transition or other rule changes that have since passed.

Milestones: The document summarizes the milestones of the FCC’s rulemaking process on wireless microphones, which include:

Issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on June 4, 2021, seeking comment on the proposals to revise the Part 74 and Part 15 rules for wireless microphones, based on a petition filed by Sennheiser Electronic Corporation in 2018.

Receiving comments and reply comments from various parties, including wireless microphone manufacturers, broadcasters, technology companies, and government agencies, between July 6, 2021 and August 5, 2021.

Adopting a Report and Order on February 15, 2024, after considering the comments and reply comments, and making some modifications to the proposed rules based on the record.

Impacted rules: The document lists the rules that are amended by the Report and Order, which are:

  • Part 15 – Radio Frequency Devices, Section 15.236 – Operation of wireless microphones in the bands 54-72 MHz, 76-88 MHz, 174-216 MHz, 470-608 MHz and 614-698 MHz and 
  • Part 74 – Experimental Radio, Auxiliary, Special Broadcast and Other Program Distributional Services

The Path Forward:

The February 15th FCC meeting marks just the beginning of the rulemaking process. While these proposals hold promise, it’s crucial to stay informed about their progress and potential outcomes. Monitor the FCC website for updates, consider submitting comments during open periods, and engage with relevant organizations and communities to ensure these changes serve the best interests of everyone. By staying vigilant and participating actively, we can help shape communication technologies and emergency response systems that are truly accessible, efficient, and beneficial for all.

Type Approval – Market Access Requirements Impacted? Yes
Spectrum Impacted? Yes
Imports Impacted? No

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