Channel 70 or 38 – A Wireless Guide

There is still much talk (and confusion) about what the changes will bring in 2012 to radio mic systems as part of the digital switchover. Without fail, we get calls about this subject every day, so we wanted to try to clear this up once and for all.

Let’s start with one big point… If you are running a Channel 70 system today, any changes being made will not affect you, and you can simply stop reading this and get on with something more interesting! Similarly, if you are a gigging musician, conference presenter, in fact anyone with under 4 radio mics who travels around, a Channel 70 system is all you need and ever will.

Who will be affected by the change?

The move affects anyone running Channel 69 radio mic systems. This frequency band is being reallocated so that the use of radio mics will no longer be legal. Channel 69 will currently be used by mostly hire companies, travelling theatre productions, and any other applications where more than 3 or 4 wireless mic systems are needed at the same time, and where there is not a fixed location where the mics are being used.

Advice for variable location multi-user systems.

If you need to run more than 4 wireless devices (and remember that In-Ear Monitor (IEM) systems are counted in this number) then you will need Channel 38, either exclusively or in conjuction with other Channel 70 devices. For the avoidance of doubt, when we say Channel 38, bear in mind that certain parts of the country cannot utilise Channel 38 due to radio interference at the moment, so you may need either Channel 39 or 40 for the time being. (We can advise you on this if you want to check whether this affects you).

Unlike Channel 70, where use of the frequencies do not require a licence and are therefore free, Channel 38 systems (in fact all other frequencies) need a licence before you can use these systems legally. You can apply for a licence online at JFMG which cost £75.00 for a 1-year licence, or £135.00 for a 2-year licence when bought online.

What about fixed-site radio mic systems?

So far we have been talking about radio systems which are intended to be used at different sites around the country, but if you are looking for a system that will be permanently installed at a single location, you would be much better advised to look for a co-ordinated fixed-site licence. These licences are non-shared so do not have the potential to get interference from anyone else trying to use their own radio system on your frequency. This is ideal for theatres, education establishments and houses of worship.

Unlike shared licences, co-ordinated site licences can be in a wide range of frequencies, which is dependent upon the exact location of the premises needing the licence. A remote site survey is needed to assess the exact requirements. Licence costs for this type of indoor licence start from just £28.00. If you would like us to conduct a free survey for you, or simply want to discuss your individual circumstances, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

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