The Rev. Kirk Norman said members of his downtown Oklahoma City congregation have no intention of becoming outlaws in the eyes of the Federal Communications Commission.
He said First United Methodist Church upgraded its wireless microphone system about two years ago — far ahead of the FCC's ban on certain wireless equipment that uses the 700 MHz band. Churches statewide are scrambling to replace certain wireless microphones and devices by Saturday. The FCC is requiring churches to switch wireless microphone systems from the 700 MHz band to make room for use by fire, police and emergency services. The FCC estimates about 25 percent of all wireless microphones fall in that range. Bandwidths from 698 and 806 MHz will become illegal Saturday. Those that don't make the change will face more than $100,000 in fines. Norman, executive pastor at First United Methodist, 131 NW 4, said they heard about the ruling five years ago and knew they needed to comply as soon as possible. But he said making the switch to another frequency and replacing equipment can be expensive. He said it cost his church between $8,000 and $10,000 just to replace equipment. "I know it has affected several churches that had no plans to change their wireless mics,” he said. "That's a pretty big hit for any church that wasn't expecting it.” At Victory Christian Center, one of Tulsa's largest churches, replacing more than 30 microphones will cost the church about $50,000, said Keith Carroll, the church audio-video director. Rusty Van de Wege with Sound Experts Inc., 8447 S Peoria Ave., said his company specializes in audio equipment for churches. He said Sound Experts has replaced several systems. "Many small churches struggled to raise money for their microphones in this bad economy, and now they're useless,” he said. A wireless microphone can cost from $500 to $7,000, he said. According to the FCC, television stations moved out of the 700 MHz bandwidth June 12, 2009, and the frequencies are now being used for emergency services.