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Changes to RF spectrum have continued moving at an incredibly fast pace over recent years. In the last year alone, we have seen many developments, most notably, UK regulator OfCom’s confirmed plan to clear the 700MHz band by May 2020. To put this into perspective, UK wireless microphone users have already lost nearly 18.99% of previously available UHF spectrum since the initial clearance of 800MHz in 2012. The additional forthcoming changes will see available UHF spectrum decrease by a further 30%. All-in-all, that’s a total loss of 43.29% of UHF spectrum for use by PMSE (Programme Making and Special Events) users of wireless microphones and InEar Monitor systems.
For sound engineers at the front-line of modern productions, the loss of such a significant amount of clean spectrum will have a substantial impact on their day-to-day working lives. Worst still, these changes come at a time when our live events industry (and ultimately the demand for wireless microphones) is greater than ever. For example, the number of people who enjoyed live music events in the UK rose by 12% in 2016 to 30.9 million – generating £4 billion in direct and indirect spending. Parallel to this, industry data shows that the UK wireless microphone market grew 147% from £26.9 million to £66.6 million in the period between 2004 and 2016.
Demand for wireless microphones is at an all-time high, while at the same time clean space in which to operate is rapidly shrinking. Ironically, much of the change we’re experiencing is driven by consumer demand to stream bandwidth-hungry video content (much of it produced using wireless microphones) on the go via next-generation mobile services.
The growth of mobile phone ownership is staggering. In 2016, an estimated 62.9 percent of the population worldwide already owned a mobile phone, and by 2019, the amount of mobile users worldwide is expected to reach the 5 billion mark. By the same date (2019) video is projected to account for more than 80% of all web traffic. In other words, data consumption is only heading one way.
The bottom line is, the demand for wireless microphones to meet our modern production values is greater than ever. Equally, our demand as consumers for advanced connectivity through the mobile web is growing day-by-day. Modern audio engineers must have a solid grasp of radio principles and new wireless technology to ensure they can meet the demands of 21st-century productions. Wireless microphones are critical to modern production values, but it’s those with a genuine understanding of how to efficiently deploy and coordinate world-class wireless setups that will truly lead the next generation of events.
Become a Wireless Expert (Resources and Training)
For a crash course in the events leading up to our current RF landscape, visit http://shure.co.uk/losingyourvoice.
Wireless Mastered Seminar
Attend one of our Shure Wireless Mastered seminars covering a broad range of wireless best practice.
Wireless Coordination Training
Gain a solid understanding of how to correctly coordinate and deploy wireless systems through the use of RF coordination software by attending our Shure Wireless Workbench Masterclass.