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Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shure UHF-R® Systems Ready Wharton School for 700 MHz Changes


PHILADELPHIA, PA, October 22, 2008 — Residing at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School was established in 1881 as the world's first collegiate business school. Considered to be one of the most highly esteemed and influential institutions of its kind, the school has increasingly relied on technology in recent years, with sound reinforcement in the classroom coming to be the norm along with distance learning capabilities and high levels of networked connectivity.


Facing spectrum changes associated with the FCC's auction earlier this year of the 700 MHz band, Wharton—with a sizable amount of wireless systems operating in that spectrum—determined the time was right for a comprehensive upgrade. Rising to the task, Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Cenero, LLC led the revitalization with a new wireless blueprint based around Shure UHF-R systems. Spanning buildings, including Huntsman Hall, Steinberg Hall, Dietrich Hall, Lauder-Fischer Hall, and the Colonial Penn Center, the plan also included provisions for building a portable system designed for use virtually anywhere someone was willing to move it.


Counting only 14 spare channels, a whopping total of 127 UHF-R channels were deployed on campus, 75 of which were in Huntsman Hall. UHF-R bodypack transmitters were used within this count with Shure cardioid WL185 lavalier mics, while 40 SM58-equipped handheld transmitters were picked to fill out the rest of the input list.


Stepping up to volunteer for the job of frequency coordinator, Shure Senior Applications Engineer Tim Vear arrived on-site in September to bring harmony to the project proceedings. Armed with Wireless Workbench® System Control Software, Vear divided his usable spectrum into 107 compatible master channels within the H4, J5, and L3 bands. He then calculated further subsets slated for use in rooms with multiple systems. When he was done, he had used 180 MHz of total bandwidth, with a minimum of 350-400 kHz between channels.


"Coordination was challenging," Vear says without understatement. "But by making certain assumptions about the rooms and their proximity to one another, no frequencies were repeated, and no conflict resulted, either internally or spawned by the outside world. While I counted on Wireless Workbench to make my frequency calculations, the process of actually assigning them was done manually to avoid the possibility of intermodulation. Human logic prevailed in the latter case, the goal being to simply keep frequencies that were perilously close to one another far apart in different rooms, buildings, and on separate floors."


In a nod to the professionalism exhibited by Cenero on the project, Vear notes that they did "A really nice install, with great attention to detail, all the right cables, and all the antennas in the right places." Completed just in time for the start of this fall's school season, the systems have performed without problems, giving a transparent level of input to everything from small classrooms to large lecture halls.


"In the current climate of uncertainty we're all facing as wireless users right now, one thing is quite clear at Wharton," Vear says on a parting note. "And that's that the loss of the 700 MHz band will not be a problem to the public at large next February. System use at these levels is becoming more and more common, and using this technique is one way to ensure a wireless future built on solid ground."


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