The Federal Communications Commission has selected the Enterprise Wireless Alliance to serve as frequency coordinator for Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) to ensure interference-free sharing of spectrum between wireless patient monitoring devices in hospitals and aeronautical testing systems that might be operating outside.

The U.S. is the first country to allocate spectrum for MBANs, which provide a platform for the wireless networking of multiple body-worn sensors used for measuring and recording physiological parameters and other patient information or for performing diagnostic/therapeutic functions.

Enterprise Wireless Alliance will determine whether proposed MBAN locations in the United States are within line-of-site of an aeronautical mobile telemetry (AMT) receiver and, if so, work in cooperation with the Aerospace and Flight Test Radio Coordinating Council (AFTRCC) and the affected healthcare facility to mitigate the interference risk.

“We have an agreement with the FCC to help, facilitate, record, and manage the deployment of MBAN systems in healthcare facilities,” says Mark Crosby, president of EWA. “The second obligation, if you will, is to AFTRCC because they’re the primary users in this band.”

While EWA is an FCC-certified frequency advisory committee, the organization was not the agency’s first choice to serve as the MBAN frequency coordinator. The FCC initially selected the American Society for Health Care Engineering of the American Hospital Association for the role, but last month ASHE/AHA withdrew its request to be certified as the frequency coordinator.

ASHE/AHA and FCC officials were not immediately available for comment.

“This is a new area but we can leverage our assets, knowledge of spectrum, and our relationship with the FCC,” comments Crosby. “We do work for hospitals now—perhaps not MBAN but for portable and voice communications systems. We work with a lot of hospitals. It’s just a different band and a different application.”     

In 2014, the FCC finalized a rule to enable deployment of MBAN devices in the 2360-2400 MHz band and established a procedure to register and coordinate use of MBAN operations in the 2360-2390 MHz band, which is range-restricted to indoor use at healthcare facilities.

Also See: FCC Finalizes Rules for Medical Body Area Networks

Hospitals must secure frequency coordination from EWA before deploying MBAN equipment capable of operating in the 2360-2390 MHz band. MBANs will be used for wireless patient monitoring indoors and will transmit health data over a short range at low power.

EWA will maintain a database of MBAN transmitter locations and operational parameters and is developing an online system for MBAN registration. Healthcare facilities deploying MBANs will be subject to registration with EWA and additional coordination if warranted by location.

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