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Medical Body Area Networks

Paul Budde

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington has advanced its wireless health care agenda by adopting rules that will enable Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), low-power wideband networks consisting of multiple body-worn sensors that transmit a variety of patient data to a control device. MBANs provide a cost effective way to monitor every patient in a healthcare institution, so clinicians can provide real-time and accurate data which allows them to intervene if necessary.

Wireless devices that operate on MBAN spectrum can be used to actively monitor a patient’s health, including blood glucose and pressure monitoring, delivery of electrocardiogram readings, and neonatal monitoring systems. MBAN devices will be designed to be deployed widely within a hospital setting and will make use of inexpensive disposable body-worn sensors. MBAN technology will also make it easier to move patients to different parts of the health care facility for treatment and can 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.

The Commission allocates 40 MHz of spectrum at 2360-2400 MHz for MBAN use on a secondary basis. It will accommodate MBAN use through an expansion of the existing Medical Device Radio communication (MedRadio) Service. This structure, which will permit MBAN devices to operate on a ‘license-by-rule’ basis in which users will not have to apply for and receive individual station licenses, will lead to the rapid and widespread development of innovative new MBAN applications.

The 2010 National Broadband Plan recognized that the use of spectrum-agile radios and other techniques can significantly increase the efficient use of radio spectrum to meet growing demand for this valuable resource. The development of the MBAN concept illustrates how advanced technology can enable the more efficient use of spectrum to deliver innovative new services. Because MBAN devices will share the spectrum with existing primary users, the rules contain registration and coordination provisions to protect vital flight testing operations conducted by aeronautical mobile telemetry (AMT) licensees.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication. Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

Related topics: Mobile, Policy & Regulation, White Space, Wireless

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