FCC Appoints Frequency Coordinator for Medical Body Area Networks

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has appointed an independent industry association to coordinate the use of frequencies assigned to medical body area networks (MBANs).

In an Order released in February 2015, the Commission designated the American Society for Health Care Engineering of the American Hospital Association (ASHE/AHS) as the MBAN frequency coordinator. As a result of this designation, the ASHE/AHS will be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that sets forth its responsibilities as MBAN frequency coordinator as well as the limits on its authority.

MBANs are low-powered networks that transmit a range of patient data from multiple body-worn sensors to a control device. MBANs can be used to monitor patient vital health signs in real time, thereby providing advanced notice of potential problems. And, because they are wireless, MBANs make it easier to move patients to different areas of a healthcare facility for specialized treatment.

The FCC originally allocated 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for MBAN use on a secondary basis in 2012. The Commission also modified the provisions of its rules governing medical device radio communications so that users do not have to apply for individual operating licenses.

In an Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order issued in August 2014, the Commission modified its rules to facilitate the coordination, deployment and use of MBAN systems, as well as to facilitate the development and implementation of technical standards applicable to MBAN devices. The Commission also defined the process for selecting a MBAN frequency coordinator responsible for facilitating the use of MBAN frequencies. This recent action addresses that issue.

Read the complete text of the FCC’s latest Order regarding MBANs.