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FCC Issues Final Rule on Wireless Spectrum for MBANs

September 12, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a final rule that will enable spectrum for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs). MBANs are low-power wideband networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors that transmit a variety of patient data to a control device. MBAN devices aim to free patients from cumbersome cables that tether them to their hospital bed. The FCC will allow for the allocation of 40 MHz of spectrum for the development of MBAN devices in the 2360–2400 MHz band.

The FCC decided to vote to adopt this spectrum, after Chairman Julius Genachowski,  alongside industry vendors GE Healthcare (Chalfont, St. Giles, U.K.) and Philips Healthcare (Andover, Mass.), unveiled a proposal that would allow for greater use of MBAN devices. According to the FCC, MBANs provide a cost effective way to monitor every patient in a healthcare institution, so clinicians can provide real-time and accurate data, allowing them to intervene and save lives. 

These devices on the MBAN spectrum will aim to actively monitor a patient’s health, such as blood glucose and pressure monitoring, delivery of electrocardiogram readings, and even neonatal monitoring systems. They could be deployed widely within a hospital setting and will make use of inexpensive disposable body-worn sensors. The FCC says MBAN technology will also make it easier to move patients to different parts of the healthcare facility for treatment and can dramatically improve the quality of patient care by giving health care providers the chance to identify life-threatening problems or events before they reach critical levels.

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