Services ancillary to broadcasting are frequently known collectively as PMSE (programme making and special events) systems, referring to the wireless microphones (audio PMSE) and video cameras (video PMSE) used by professionals, mainly for the production of video content, TV shows and major events. Harmonisation already exists, defining tuning ranges so that frequencies can be used in each country according to national regulations. Professionals are nonetheless concerned over recent reallocations to commercial mobile networks of spectrum hitherto used for PMSE.
In the case of audio PMSE, as part of the plans to reorganise the L band with a view to exchanging the 1375-1400 MHz and 1492-1518 MHz bands, France is considering authorising wireless microphone applications in the 1375-1400 MHz band, part of a tuning range (1350-1400 MHz) for this usage currently in the process of European harmonisation. Despite its limited capacity, the 1518-1525 MHz band is attracting interest from the PMSE industry, and harmonised conditions for its use are being considered at European level. Lastly, CEPT is examining the possibility of shared used of the 960-1164 MHz band, in the light of Ofcom’s opening of the band in the UK.
Finally, ANFR proposes making its contribution, in coordination with ARCEP, to national reflection on coexistence between the various audio PMSE applications. Operational coexistence between the different PMSE users could be improved by identifying preferential blocks for certain applications (microphones, on the one hand, and onstage monitor systems on the other, for example, or separating fixed and mobile microphones). In addition, new conditions of usage and sharing with other users are beginning to emerge, and the concept of a standard filing platform could be explored to provide better monitoring of usages in certain bands. In the case of video PMSE, two additional bands have recently been made available:
- 2010-2025 MHz: this band is covered by recent EU harmonisation transposed into the national framework. In practice, however, it limits video PMSE use to a single 10 MHz channel. ANFR proposes exploring the possibility of an extension of 5 MHz above 2025 MHz so as to provide a second 10 MHz channel.
- 2700-2900 MHz: since 2015, the national framework has allowed the use of certain types of video PMSE, after coordination with assignees holding rights over the spectrum concerned, so as to ensure protection of radar systems (2700-2900 MHz) and radio astronomy observations at the Nançay observatory (2690-2700 MHz and 2700-2735 MHz). To facilitate development of the PMSE ecosystem in this band, France will support EU harmonisation of the spectrum sharing solution developed nationally, whilst leaving the flexibility necessary for member states to manage coexistence with the different types of radar.
In addition, video cameras can already operate over 3G networks. The advent of 5G, given its characteristics — in particular its low latency and guaranteed quality of service — will present new opportunities for video PMSE. At times of major events, intensive use of temporary spectrum and frequency channel saturation can create problems of allocation and coordination. In France, the spectrum for audio PMSE is subject to ARCEP general authorisation, which can create local implementation problems when a large number of users are concentrated in the same area. Some countries, including the UK, have opted for an individual authorisation regime: the regulator thus plays the role of coordinator of spectrum usage. In France, organisers of major events frequently seek to avoid problems by asking ANFR to take charge of coordination when a large number of users is expected. The Agency then intervenes, on a preventive basis by coordinating spectrum allocations and, if corrective action is required, by resolving interference issues or non-coordinated usage with the help of its measuring devices. Growing PMSE usage and the increasing scarcity of spectrum resources will intensify the need for coordination. Determining the response best suited to evolving usage will require some thought.
ANFR will examine frequency bands that could be made available for audio PMSE, in particular the 1375-1400 MHz and 1518-1525 MHz bands. At European level, the Agency will contribute to technical studies concerning audio PMSE and the services currently authorised in the 960-1164 MHz band, to determine a forward-looking perspective on the band’s long-term importance.
In the case of video PMSE, ANFR will explore at national level a 5 MHz extension of the 2010-2025 MHz above 2025 MHz, so as to provide a second 10 MHz channel. The Agency will support EU harmonisation of the 2700-2900 MHz band and will examine the prospects for using 5G to meet certain needs.
In coordination with ARCEP, ANFR will contribute to national deliberations on coexistence between the different audio PMSE applications, in particular the possibility of identifying preferential blocks for certain applications and possible changes to the conditions of authorisation.
ANFR will explore ways in which the Agency can intervene in the coordination of audio PMSE spectrum and the consequences of growing demand in a context of limited Agency resources.