FCC allocates spectrum for new medical technologies

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules aimed at speeding the development of wireless medical devices that could help to restore the functioning of paralyzed human limbs.

The Commission’s action came in response to a petition from the Alfred Mann Foundation to allow so-call medical micropower networks (MNNs) to utilize parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. MNNs are ultra-low power wideband networks consisting of multiple transmitters implanted in the body that use electric currents to activate and monitor nerves and muscles. The Mann Foundation had reportedly built prototype MNN systems, and sought FCC approval that would allow for the actual use of the systems in patients.

In a Report and Order issued in November 2011, the Commission moved to expand the Medical Device Radiocommunications (MedRadio) Service under Part 95 of its rules to permit the use of MNNs in selected portions of the spectrum. The FCC noted that its action advances its broadband healthcare agenda, and will improve the quality of life for individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, strokes and other neuromusculoskeletal disorders.

Read the complete text of the Commission’s Report and Order regarding the Medical Device Radiocommunications (MedRadio) Service.