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Topics of interest to Clerks of Session, Session Moderators and others who are interested in Presbyterian local-church governance.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Check Your Church's Wireless Microphones

OK, this item may seem a bit far afield from Clerk of Session concerns, but it does have to do with legal matters - so, I figure it's worth mentioning.

I've recently learned, from alert reader Bill Morris, that an FCC-imposed deadline is looming for any churches that use wireless microphones that broadcast in a certain frequency range. The government has reassigned that range - the 700MHz range, which extends from 698 to 806 MHz - to certain public safety agencies (police, fire departments, first aid squads, etc.). It can no longer be used for wireless microphones after June 12, 2010.

A series of special web pages on the FCC website provides more detail on this. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page at that site warns that serious consequences could result from continuing to use wireless equipment in this frequency range: "Using the 700 MHz Band for a wireless microphone (or similar device) after June 12, 2010 could be extremely dangerous and could even be life threatening. Police and fire departments, and other public safety groups, use frequencies in the 700 MHz Band. Interference from wireless microphones can affect the ability of public safety groups to receive information over the air and respond to emergencies. Harmful interference to these communications could put you or public safety personnel in grave danger."

If your church has a sound system, chances are there's a "techie" member who takes charge of it. It would be a good idea to remind that person to check any wireless microphones the church may have, and make sure none of them broadcasts in the 700MHz range. In some systems, the microphone's frequency can be seen on a little digital window in the microphone's battery pack. In others, it may be engraved on a small plate attached to it, or perhaps on the base unit.

In some systems, the frequency can be recalibrated by the user. In others, the unit may need to be sent in for service. In a few cases, it may be necessary to purchase new equipment.

If your wireless system is fairly new, chances are it's just fine. This change has been known about for several years now, and many microphone manufacturers have been planning for it. If your wireless system is an older one, though, there could be a problem. It's worth looking into.

More information may be found in this online article from Christianity Today magazine.

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