American churches have less than two weeks to change their wireless microphone equipment or face more than $100,000 in fines.
In January, the Federal Communications Commission mandated that anyone using wireless microphones on the 700 MHz band must stop by June 12 in order to make room for use by police, fire and emergency services.
An unlicensed person or business—which includes churches—using microphones on frequencies between 698 and 806 MHz must stop or face action by the FCC. Violators could face up to $112,500 in fines or imprisonment for continued violation, according to the FCC. Violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Since December 2008, Shure Inc., a Niles, Ill.-based audio-visual company, has worked with churches to replace their audio equipment.
"It's like being told that you got to replace your dishwasher even though it's working just fine," said Chris Lyons, manager of educational and technical communication at Shure.
"It affects any church that has any number of microphones that work in the 700 MHz band. For the last several years, that has been one of the very popular parts of the band. So there is a big installed base of wireless life there."
The Village Church of Gurnee in Gurnee, Ill. uses its 24 wireless devices for drama productions, music, preaching and children's ministry. Because of the cost, the church only replaced half of its devices.
"If we were to replace every single channel and piece of equipment we have … it's gonna cost us about $50,000 total," said Jason Carter, the Village Church's pastor of worship ministries. "We're really having to rethink how we're going to do some of those events … It really is changing the dynamic of how we do ministry here on Sunday ...1