Most modern productions from festivals, concerts, theatres, and sports venues to name a small few, rely on wireless microphones. Demand for wireless microphones in the UK alone is growing constantly. Add to this the constant growth in mobile phone usage, it is estimated there will be almost 7 billion mobile devices in the world by 2020. With mobile network operators buying up more and more of the radio frequency spectrum to be able to provide their services it leaves less for wireless microphones and IEM equipment.
This led the UK government to announce they are intending to clear the 700 MHz band by 1st May 2020 to make it available for mobile services, meaning audio engineers will need to work harder and smarter to meet production demands, and some equipment will become non-compliant, or more difficult to configure and operate.
The government has put the Digital Dividend in place, a compensation scheme for anyone who owns Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) equipment that relies on the 700MHz band. The Digital Dividend allows you to offset the cost of new equipment by claiming at least 60% of the cost back, plus an additional 10% in administration charges against the total claim value.
Sennheiser have put together their Stay Heard website giving information about how you will be affected by the change and also a Radio Frequency health check to determine if your equipment meets the criteria for compensation.
Sennheiser have also provided the following checklist to understand the eligibility for compensation.
You’re eligible for compensation if you:
- Have held a licence in the 700 MHz band between 17th October 2014 and 23rd August 2018 OR, you can prove your rental business is dry hire only and doesn’t need a licence.
- Are claiming for equipment that belongs to you.
- Are claiming for equipment that is still in working order.
- Bought your equipment before 23rd August 2018
- Are claiming for equipment with at least some of its range in the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz)
You can also claim for some ancillary equipment if it will be unusable after the 700 MHz band clearance. Ancillary equipment must satisfy all eligibility criteria, with the exception of tuning range for equipment without a tuning function.
What if your equipment doesn’t operate in the 700 MHz frequency?
When the 700 MHz frequency band is cleared, more people will switch over to the remaining spectrum, so things will get a little crowded. Some equipment will tune across usable and non-usable frequencies, so its tuning range will become constrained. The good news is, if your equipment falls into that category, you could also be entitled to compensation.
The deadline of 26th April 2019 to apply for the Digital Dividend compensation scheme is fast approaching, so if you qualify and are yet to apply you can do so by visiting the PMSE Funding website and registering your details.