Spectrum is the oxygen of wireless systems – without it they can’t operate – and Ofcom has reduced the PMSE (Programme Making and Special Events) spectrum for radio microphones & in-ear systems. The 700Mhz band is now cleared and is being auctioned for use by mobile phone companies and mobile service providers. In 2012 the 800Mhz band was cleared for the same purpose.

Paradoxically, radio microphones and in-ear systems are indispensable to the production of the very content that the mobile companies wish to serve us with.

The challenge is severe for PMSE users as the spectrum remaining to them (470 – 694 Mhz) is ever more congested with Digital TV Transmissions now that the broadcasters have re-located out of the 700Mhz band. PMSE uses the spectrum not taken by TV transmissions – so availability varies on a regional basis. In some UK cities there will virtually no spectrum available for PMSE use.

Emerging digital radio mic systems are helping some – these systems are more spectrum efficient, enabling a higher channel count in a given bandwidth. However digital in-ear systems are not emerging so quickly and for simultaneous use of digital radio mics and analogue in-ear systems careful planning and coordination are essential.