Government grants for Ch.69 equipment (when it becomes illegal)

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mooblie
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Just in case any of you radio mic users out there have missed this:

Ofcom is clearing Channel.69 (854-862MHz) after 1st October 2012. It will be illegal to operate in this band in UK after then. Users are encouraged to move to Channel 38.

(Ch.69 is the channel that requires a JFMG licence to operate in - hence is relatively quiet compared to the "free" Ch.70 (863-865 MHz) band that many people operate in, which doesn't require a licence - and hence can be crowded!)

Ch.69 users who held a JMFG Licence sometime between Feb 2008 and 2009 are entitled to a government grant of around 55% of the replacement cost of their radio mic. equipment, to either surrender it, or have it modified.

Full details at the Equiniti website (link) (who are administering this scheme on behalf of Ofcom.)

(I am intrigued to think what will happen to the HUGE stockpile of perfectly good Ch.69 radio mic equipment Equiniti/Ofcom will have gathered by the end of 2011. Real shame to have to scrap it.)

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

BirtyBoy1
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There is a seminar on this very subject at this years IOV convention on 13th Oct by:

Alan March - Sennheiser
The Future of Radio Microphones for Videographers

http://www.iov.co.uk/showarticle.pl?id=2533;n=242

Phil

paulears
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I've decided to turn my kit in for the March early surrender date, as you get a little extra. I'm keeping a small amount I can use in the interim on 69, but the surrender values on some items are in fact pretty good, so I'm turning it in, and moving on.

I'm actually going to buy some digital kit as a bit of an experiment - 2.4GHz Line 6 kit. So far only mains powered receivers, but that's my major requirement at the moment. If, as they keep telling me, they are as good as they say, then it will be worth it - if they don't show promise, then I'll probably buy G3 Sennheisers on the new channels. At the moment, Line 6 are a bit short of hard data, and just have generic faq style answers, but they insist the SSFH system is interference proof and the design has no need for a sensitivity switch as we've all got used to. Time will tell.

My surrender value around 4 grand for what I'm handing in, which is actually more than I'd get if I sold it!

rogs
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paulears wrote:
At the moment, Line 6 are a bit short of hard data

Maybe they're just completing the figures for the rejection of microwave oven interference? :confused:

As anyone who has used 2.4GHz kit for wireless video home relay will know, the prescence of an 850 Watt 2.4 GHz Magnatron transmitter - like those fitted in microwave ovens - anywhere near sensitive 2.4GHz receivers, renders them completely useless.

Although, in theory, there is no serious 'leakage' from microwave ovens, you don't need much R.F power to blot out a low power transmitter - even at several hundred metres!
And radio mics are low power transmitters!

I wonder what Line 6 have done to combat this serious source of interference?
Must be something pretty special, or they're wasting their time at 2.4GHz, I would think?

paulears
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http://www.blue-room.org.uk/index.php?showtopic=42754&st=80

Have a look at this topic on a theatre based forum, where Don Bloomer from Line 6 puts the case. You'll see the theatre mob were somewhat sceptical too, but he is firm in his convinctions.

rogs
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Apparently, you can't put the receiver next to a microwave oven (obviously!). But you can always move the microwave (post#106).

That's sorted that one out then!

Hmmmm... not convinced....and using RG58 for long(ish) antennae runs @ 2.4GHz? :confused:

I guess the proof of the pudding etc... but not sure I'd be an early adopter.

paulears
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I think the feeder issue convinced many participants that the science had not quite kept up with the spec?

HallmarkProductions
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As a freelancer, I have legally used the unlicensed frequencies, but, when working for others, have come under their umbrella of using their licensed frequencies.

Where does that leave me - I don't need to buy the licence, but suddenly my kit is deemed valueless, and i cannot get the funding. This is ?000s of worth of kit. Perhaps I could be classed as hire company, as I am charging my equipment to my clients?

Chris
Time for a new signature now...

mooblie
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Probably best to ask them - they're aware of the special circumstances of "hire" companies. You may need to just show evidence of charging for others (licence holders) to use your equipment.

*!!* Warning: I'm no expert...

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

paulears
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Unlicensed means illegal operation, I think you mean license free (or deregulated) - which is channel 70, and is just 4 channels.

Companies who hire on to their clients and companies who use them themselves have (or should have had) a license. The people with the licenses can claim the 'scrappage' and send them in for disposal as long as they had them before the date when the new license was announced. It's too late now to get a license as the new ones we've got have the new lower channels on them, and the current ones are shown with an end date. If you've been using the equipment on channel 69, using somebody elses license, then sadly, the Government didn't know you existed, so you're not entitled to access the scheme. If you are charging the equipment to your clients, then you should really have had the license. It's cheaper than a TV license! The details of who is able to use the scheme and get compensation have been talked about for a long time now - and it's not a new thing. One of the annoying things about the planning for this, which was started a long time ago - it's years since I had the first survey - is that the Government based their usage figures on licensees - and we always knew there were many, many times more equipment actually in use than the figures showed. I think the get-out (for them) is that really, if the equipment was yours, then when it wasn't being used by your clients with their own license, then you had in your possession radio transmitting equipment that you didn't have a license for. I don't suppose they were ever bothered, but in effect - you should have had your own license, which leaves you, I'm pretty certain, totally unprotected.

The general feeling is that many people will carry on in total ignorance - using the kit on random channels as they already have done for years. One day, if the new occupiers of the band suddenly turn on their high power base stations and blast out digital signals - horrible noises might burst out of there systems, and they'd probably just retune randomly until they found a new quiet one!

I suspect we'll all have to wait and see what actually happens when the changeover starts!

The units I've decided to not hand in, I'll either use on channel 70, or flog off if where I'm based makes them unusable. Connecting one of my receivers to a wideband antenna on the chimney here shows channel 70 is pretty busy already - I'm surrounded by holiday centres!

HallmarkProductions
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Paul - I did mean Ch70, yes. You are quite wrong to assert that I have been randomly switching channels though (if you are referring to me)! I have used ch70 perfectly legally for a number of years, and can honestly say that not on one occasion have I had a problem. However, when using my equipment for the broadcast companies I have worked for (in an arguably much more critical environment) I have used their licensed frqs. Therefore, why should I have paid for the licence? it is another ?135 to pay out for something that actually, I have never used. The thing is, now my equipment will be devalued because I cannot use it for the purpose that it was intended for, and bought for. Now, channel 70 will be swamped, and therefore the equipment will be useless too.

I have also hired my equipment to soundmen over the years - some of whom have the licences themselves for use in their corporate work. Perhaps one of them will be able to submit them on my behalf.

I will check the definition of hiring company though - I think that part of my income comes from hiring as the kit is charged to broadcast clients, therefore, I am a legitimate hire company.

Chris
Time for a new signature now...

paulears
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I'm a bit confused. You mentioned using other people licenses - which implies channel 69 usage, as you don't need one for channel 70. Trantec have had their license free kit made in a bad limited version - the 4.X series when put on the programmer won't let you reprogram them into channel 69. The wording of the Wireless Telegraphy Act has provision in it that would allow possession of equipment capable of operation on channel 69 to require a license. Sennheiser kit can so easily move into 69, and I come across loads of users who simply picked a frequency at random, matched it on both transmitter and receiver and blasted away!

Reading the conditions on the compensation package, if you personally didn't have a license, you won't get money. If you can find somebody willing to say it is theirs, who does have a license, then they can probably claim, but it's dodgy, isn't it.

As I see it, you didn't do anything wrong - but most people I'm aware of who hire their kit out tend to have a license, simply because not all their clients will have one of their own.

If you hire or load it out free on 69 to others with licenses, that's fine, and if you use it on 70 yourself, all is well. By not having the license, you didn't get the advance notice or other information until too late. You are a legitimate hire company if you only hire to license holders. all you've lost is the chance to recoup some of your loss. Of course, their argument will be that you still have the equipment to use on channel 70, so that's ok. You will disagree (I expect) because you won't be able to hire it out for use on 37/38.

In theatre, where I work - channel 70 is already getting a busy place with more and more people using IEM systems for monitoring. 4 channels isn't anywhere near enough.

People will continue to pick channels at random if the interference proves to be bad - I guess we just don't know.

I kind of see the Governments position - those that paid them for licenses get the compensation. Those without won't. It's a bit like being able to see the lottery numbers and still buy a ticket. Many of us, knowing the problems, have deliberately not bought new kit since we were warned. Now we're at least able to start buying again.

One important note - claims over £6000 need receipts, claims under £6000 just need the equipment, so maybe if you can find a license holder with no claim going in, you can work something out - but my claim is already in, and I suspect many others will have declared early to get the little extra on offer.

HallmarkProductions
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Hi Paul,

What I meant was that
1/ I use equipment on channel 70
2/ My clients (who are broadcasters) sometimes use my equipment on channel 69, but they have blanket licences to cover their use of the frequencies
3/ My kit is occasionally hired out to other soundmen or production companies known to us. Those that have licences use it on ch69 as they see fit, those that do not use it on ch70

I spoke to Ofcom and at the time they told me that it was the use of the equipment on the frequencies that defined whether a licence was required. If you only use the ch70 frequencies yourself for your work, no licence is needed. Hence, why many hire companies own the kit but do not have licences.

I did actually also telephone Ofcom in 2008, and they told me that there was no point in getting the licence, because all the frqs were changing soon! They never told me about the compensation, and, also never told when the deadline for buying a licence would be. Most economical with information, in my exoerience.

Chris
Time for a new signature now...

Peter Groom
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Hi guys
I notice in the 1st post of this thread
Ofcom is clearing Channel.69 (854-862MHz)

I have some radio mics that, although most of the freqs available do fall within that area, they can be tuned well below that. What does this mean for me. Freqs below 854 will continue ok or are they also being wiped out.
Peter

mooblie
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Peter, I'm not sure that frequencies below Ch.69 are, or were, legal in UK?

- unless you have a site specific licence?

- or unless you're talking about Ch.38 (606-614MHz) which is the "new" replacement channel for Ch.69 (but still requires a JMFG licence, like Ch.69 did).

Ch.70 (863-865MHz) was, and remains, the only licence-free channel in UK, and that's going to get awfully crowded!

(I'm open to correction here!)

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

paulears
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This is exactly the problem. If the manufacturers produce equipment that allows you to tune to channels that don't require a license, plus others that do, plus others that don't appear on any of the various different licenses, then you really can't blame the users. It's not like when you tune, a big RED light comes on and says "are you sure you want to stop here?".

The situation is at the moment that radio microphone are using spectrum just above the top of the TV transmitter band (21-68). So channel 69, where the licensed people are working is a kind of buffer zone between one type of radio system and the next one up - and it works. In this p[art of the country, we've actually got broadcast TV (CH4) on the channel 65. plenty of empty space is available in the TV block, and the empty space changes from area to area, so the licensing authorities allow TV people to put their radio mics in some of those spaces temporarily - handy for OBs and stuff like that, yet away from users like me in ch69.

Once the digital switchover happens - then huge blocks of airspace become available, and these are going to be sold off to the mobile phone industry. If they 'own' a block, and stick one of their cell towers in it, then if its using the area around ch 68 and 69, then best guess says that low power, wide band, poorly filtered (because it never needed it) radio equipment will just be unusable. Nasty digital data all over the place with high field strengths - sounds bad news. If there is any good news I suppose it's that we don't really know how the local area will be affected. It might take some time before the new occupiers of the band actually do anything - a new network means a roll out - so we really are guessing. All I am expecting is nothing much will change overnight, and loads of the unaware people will carry on, with no issues at all, until one day, when all hell will break lose and their system will only be free of noise up in the top section, and everyone else, will gravitate up their too.

Doing what I do, I see many people bringing in their own radio kit, and I'd suggest the majority is set to channels that don't appear on any license, just random frequencies that in isolation, work. People who come in with Trantec equipment are usually on proper channels, as although they can be programmed, you do it with a computer and software, and cables - so most users don't bother, just use the ones that are in there - but Sennheiser, which is by far the most common system I see have a great go anywhere ability.

As I see it, nobody in authority ever bothered very much with radio mics because in general they were interfered 'with' by legit higher power users, and rarely 'caused' problems - so any off-proper channel settings didn't really matter. All it would have taken was to make the manufacturers put a license application form in each box, and the honest ones would have filled it out. I suspect that because unlicensed use wasn't a problem, the powers that be considered a big rise in applications not really that useful. Imagine how much larger the compensation fund would have needed to be? Cynic? me?

paulears
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Just an update, the system seems to be working. Equiniti had all the invoices and other documents, and I've just been sticking bar codes on the items I'm surrendering, so I'm actually quite happy with the surrender values on some of the older items.

My date for surrender is second week in March, so when I get the funds, I'll report back.

One of the seafront pubs in Great Yarmouth was talking to the theatre I look after in the town, and he'd never heard of licenses for radio mics - and neither had any other bars with music close by. His straw poll suggests that there are 7 users, within 30m or so all using Sennheiser systems - and none on the 4 available ch 70 slots - so if ch 69 suddenly stops working, all hell will break loose. It's going to be bad news for the wedding video people - because unless they buy new kit, they will be sharing channels with the disco and bands! Hopefully the movement of mobile phones into the band will be slow and gradual - but I wonder how many will be caught out?

rogs
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paulears wrote:
It's going to be bad news for the wedding video people - because unless they buy new kit, they will be sharing channels with the disco and bands!

More things like this this in lieu of radio mics perhaps?
Or possibly something a little more robust, with a metal frame, if you need it to survive for any length of time. Like this perhaps?

Lots of extra work in post, syncing it all together though!

Still if you keep finding your audio ruined by the band, on the same channel, going 'one - two - testing' in the adjacent marquee .........

John Willett
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paulears wrote:
One of the seafront pubs in Great Yarmouth was talking to the theatre I look after in the town, and he'd never heard of licenses for radio mics - and neither had any other bars with music close by. His straw poll suggests that there are 7 users, within 30m or so all using Sennheiser systems - and none on the 4 available ch 70 slots - so if ch 69 suddenly stops working, all hell will break loose. It's going to be bad news for the wedding video people - because unless they buy new kit, they will be sharing channels with the disco and bands! Hopefully the movement of mobile phones into the band will be slow and gradual - but I wonder how many will be caught out?

Sennheiser UK had been putting information about licensing radiomics on their price lists for years.

G1 systems were on the de-regulated Ch.70 frequencies as standard. The price lists were certainly very clear about licenses from G2 onwards.

Dealers *should* have made things clear to customers, as they had all the licensing information on the price lists they received from Sennheiser (and there were/are downloadable from the Sennheiser UK website).

Although many people knew but did not bother with a licence in Ch.69 - so it's their own fault that they will not get compensation.

The people I feel sorry for are those who *had* to buy Ch.69 equipment after the cut-off date because they had projects to do and no other frequencies that they could use other than 69. :(

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.

paulears
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It's a shame not every manufacturer did this - but I must admit that the G2 systems I bought from a proper dealer didn't have any info that I noticed - however, it's fair to say I didn't actually go looking for it. I suspect the biggest problem is that very often the people who open the box, simply remove the components, and maybe the manual, and then throw the rest away.

John Willett
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paulears wrote:
I suspect the biggest problem is that very often the people who open the box, simply remove the components, and maybe the manual, and then throw the rest away.

Yes, and just switch on and use the first frequency they find - which with a G2 was totally illegal in the UK without a specific site licence.

Sennheiser UK always did their best at keeping people informed, but if the dealers don't pass this on ................. :(

With G2 it was the first four frequencies in bank 8 that were licence-free and all the frequencies in bank 6 were the Ch.69 mobile licensed ones - Ch.69 will become illegal at the end of next year.

All the rest were either illegal or required a fixed-site "co-ordinated" licence.

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.

dominicwitherow
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Someone I know well has just realised that their G2 has been on the same frequency since he first switched it on about five years ago (839.100 - and never any interference problems whatsoever), having been assured by the dealer (Ask Electronics on Tottenham Court Road) that the system didn't require any licensing and was 'good to go from the box'. After some considerable research and trying to understand the whole channel vs frequency thing he is now set up in full compliance with the law, but mighty peed off that something as simple as a sticker with appropriate UK frequency settings was not present on the box (which he still has in mint condition).

Audio equipment is SO much more complex than camera kit and the settings are Greek to most users (literally in certain circumstances). So there must be an obligation on the manufacturers / distributors / dealers to ensure that the uninitiated don't sleepwalk into illegality and face potential fines or even prison when a nice red sticker on the box could make it all clear. £75 per year is nothing, compared to the potential consequences. Also, finding out how to get a license is hardly clear from the equipment documentation either and it certainly should be.

paulears
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That, I suspect, was the problem - the kit worked, and to be honest the scan feature is a pretty dumb feature for a product that spans licensed and unlicensed areas of the spectrum. Press a button, wait till it stops and use it. I can't really blame the users - and I don't think I ever saw a license application form that could so easily have been put in every box? You can't blame people for being confused. Ask anyone you can think of what channel is Ch4 on in their area, and the answer is 2, not 65!

I'm going to buy some back, I think.

Peter Groom
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There is a potentially problematic addition to this story, for those who see ch 70 as a potential way forward.
Ive been following a thread recently on a Pro audio forum, where users have posted info about big problems with ch70 in a selected part of the UK where the mobile operators have been running tests of their signals on ch69. Apparently these tests have rendered ch70 largely useless too.
So will
1) ch 70 just end up being useless and be a sacrificial lamb
2) The problem be trimmed out with adjustment.

I dont know?
Maybe John Willet may know more detail on this IBS based thread.
Peter

paulears
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Could you point us to the forum - this is pretty important, and need reading, checking and spreading!

Peter Groom
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Sorry. Its a private access forum for members of the Institute of Broadsacst Sound.
Im sure John Willett is a member and contributor.
Peter

Peter Groom
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Ill add that The last post I saw on this was about 2 weeks ago when I posted a question.
Ill see if ive still got the emails at home and may be able to post a little more than i could recall today.
Peter

John Willett
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dominicwitherow wrote:
Someone I know well has just realised that their G2 has been on the same frequency since he first switched it on about five years ago (839.100 - and never any interference problems whatsoever), having been assured by the dealer (Ask Electronics on Tottenham Court Road) that the system didn't require any licensing and was 'good to go from the box'. After some considerable research and trying to understand the whole channel vs frequency thing he is now set up in full compliance with the law, but mighty peed off that something as simple as a sticker with appropriate UK frequency settings was not present on the box (which he still has in mint condition).

Audio equipment is SO much more complex than camera kit and the settings are Greek to most users (literally in certain circumstances). So there must be an obligation on the manufacturers / distributors / dealers to ensure that the uninitiated don't sleepwalk into illegality and face potential fines or even prison when a nice red sticker on the box could make it all clear. £75 per year is nothing, compared to the potential consequences. Also, finding out how to get a license is hardly clear from the equipment documentation either and it certainly should be.

Sennheiser make equipment for every country in the world and most equipment in Europe is delivered directly to the dealer from a central warehouse in Europe.

Sennheiser UK make the legal frequencies very clear on their price lists (downloadable from the Sennheiser UK website) and all dealers are fully aware. Unfortunately, if they do not disseminate the information to the staff and/or do not pass it on to the customer......... :(

G3 systems are on the Ch.70 deregulated frequencies out of the box, as were G1 - G2 had to be switched to bank 8.

Peter Groom wrote:
There is a potentially problematic addition to this story, for those who see ch 70 as a potential way forward.
Ive been following a thread recently on a Pro audio forum, where users have posted info about big problems with ch70 in a selected part of the UK where the mobile operators have been running tests of their signals on ch69. Apparently these tests have rendered ch70 largely useless too.
So will
1) ch 70 just end up being useless and be a sacrificial lamb
2) The problem be trimmed out with adjustment.

I dont know?
Maybe John Willet may know more detail on this IBS based thread.
Peter

Tests show that when G4 wireless broadband fires up on channels 60-68 than there is a high likelihood of interference to deregulated radiomics on Ch.70. It would affect some equipment worse than others. I have heard that G3 comes out very well in interference tests (better than G2) but how it will really be affected until it all fires up.

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.