FCC Designates Broadband Frequency For Medical Body Area Networks

Eric Wicklund | Government Health IT | August 26, 2014

Federal regulators have written final rules for the allocation of wireless spectrum for wearable sensors, creating a new position to help healthcare providers shield sensor networks from other wireless users.  The Federal Communications Commission's rules for the operation of Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs) gives healthcare providers a designated broadband frequency on which to use those sensors. This latest rule creates the position of an "MBAN coordinator," who will help separate wireless sensors from other systems, such as legacy wireless networks, in the healthcare setting.

The FCC voted in 2012 to allocate 40 megahertz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 range for MBANs, with the 2360-2390 range for indoor use and the 2390-2400 range for outdoor use. A final rule was released later that year, but the FCC has now taken the unusual step of filing a "reconsideration and second report and order" that takes into account the fast pace of mHealth innovation.

An MBAN is defined as a "low power network of sensors worn on the body controlled by a hub device that is located either on the body or in close proximity to it." Such devices operate on a secondary basis in that spectrum, and "must not cause harmful interference to and must accept interference from federal and non-federal stations operating in the band in accordance with the Table of Frequency Allocations." Currently, that range of spectrum is used by aeronautical mobile telemetry (AMT)...