Sennheiser Group has been working to raise awareness about the importance of spectrum allocation for wireless Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) devices in order to mitigate the potential impact of reduced operational bandwidth on the booming events and entertainment industry in the Middle East. The company recently delivered a presentation on this challenge at the CABSAT expo in Dubai and is also currently engaging with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE in order to evaluate solutions for the same.
PMSE is the generic term which covers an extensive range of wireless production tools used for art, culture, conferences, trade fairs, entertainment applications, education, sport events and many other purposes. Norbert Hilbich, Head of Application Engineering Global Sales for Sennheiser Group believes that non-provisioning of spectrum for PMSE devices could adversely affect the flourishing Culture and Creative industry which is a significant contributor to the regional economy.
“The addition of new services such as 4G mobile and digital television broadcast means that the frequency range over which PMSE can be operated is shrinking. Sennheiser is striving to create regional awareness about this. PMSE is essential to smooth operation and production of all live events and simply put, without proper planning and provisioning put into the spectrum allocation for these devices, the impact on the events and entertainment industry is likely to be damaging and far reaching,” said Mr. Hilbich.
Currently, in the UAE and most countries across the Middle East, wireless PMSE devices are operated in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band. This includes the range of frequencies from 470 to 862 Megahertz and is used for digital and analog television distribution in addition to PMSE. However, as new technologies emerge, this spectrum continues to shrink. More recently, the allocation of spectrum for 4G mobile broadband services has meant shrinking of the higher end of the UHF spectrum. Mr. Hilbich explains that as less and less bandwidth becomes available for PMSE, the production and coverage of events will become a major challenge.
PMSE is widely employed for the production and coverage of live events in the region. For example, during the Formula 1 championship race at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, more than 550 wireless links were in operation. There are numerous applications of PMSE such as in universities for wireless audio and video systems, conferencing facilities in hotels and educational training centers within most companies. Without sufficient spectrum availability for the operation of these devices, all of these applications would stand to suffer.
Thanks to the awareness being generated by Sennheiser, regulatory authorities across the region are beginning to take note and are exploring means to address the challenges. Muhammad Imran Gill, Senior Engineer Broadcasting Services at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the UAE said, “We have had a number of discussions with Sennheiser and have identified a couple of solutions to this challenge. We are aware of the importance of being proactive rather than reactive in this and are hopeful that within the next two years we will have the migration of the bandwidth for PMSE in order to better accommodate these devices.”
PMSE devices which include wireless monitor systems, conference systems, cameras, intercom systems lighting control and show effect controls can represent a significant investment for event and production companies. Mr. Hilbich suggests that in addition to the efforts by regulatory authorities, organizations can help protect their investments by utilizing devices which operate over a broader range of frequencies.