• FCC Seeks Public Input on Proposal to Designate Spectrum (2360-2400 MHz) for New Implanted and Body Worn Medical Device Technology
  • May 19, 2008 | Authors: Catherine Wang; Katie Besha
  • Law Firm: Bingham McCutchen LLP - Washington Office
  • The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) is seeking comment on GE Healthcare’s (GEHC) request that the FCC allocate spectrum for a new wireless Medical Body Area Network Service (MBANS). MBANS devices would create a network of body worn sensors to replace the tangle of cables that today tether patients to bedside monitor units. GEHC proposes detailed service rules that would allow these devices to operate in the 2360-2400 MHz frequency band on a secondary basis and as a licensed service under Part 95 of the FCC’s rules.

    GEHC proposal is of interest to medical technology manufacturers, healthcare providers and institutions, as well as parties with technology that operates in or around the 2360-2400 MHz spectrum band. Comments on GEHC’s petition for rulemaking are due by May 27, 2008.

    Important aspects of the proposed rules are described below:

    Proposed Frequency Band — GEHC has identified the 2360-2400 MHz band as the preferred frequency band based on engineering studies showing that MBANS devices can successfully coexist with incumbent operators and users. Incumbent spectrum services in this band include Amateur Radio, aeronautical telemetry and telecommand, Federal radiolocation, and users in nearby spectrum which includes Part 15 low power unlicensed and Part 18 Industrial, Scientific and Medical devices. Within this allocation, GEHC proposes a two tier channel set: an inner set, consisting of 2370-2390 MHz which would be used only by healthcare facilities, and an outer set, consisting of 2360-2370 MHz and 2390-2400 MHz, which would be available for MBANS operations in any environment. 

    GEHC anticipates that at least 20 MHz of spectrum is needed for MBANS communications to avoid capacity constraints within high patient-density facilities, such as hospitals. Thus, GEHC proposes that allocating 40 MHz of spectrum before spectrum sharing is taken into account should result in at least 20 MHz being available for secondary use.

    Permitted Operations and Eligibility — To preserve capacity in the 2360-2400 MHz band, the proposed rules limit the type of devices that will be permitted to operate within the spectrum to those involved in the monitoring, diagnosing or treatment of a patient. The proposed rules also require that MBANS operations be licensed by rule under Part 95 only for physicians and other healthcare professionals and that MBANS transmitters be certified.

    Authorized Locations — The proposed rules anticipate that MBANS will be fully mobile, both inside and outside of healthcare facilities, without restriction. 

    Spectrum Sharing Requirements — The proposed rules do not require the use of any specific standard protocol but GEHC anticipates that industry standardization efforts may occur. Currently, the proposed rules only require that all devices implement basic contention-based mechanisms to allow predictable and fair access to the spectrum.

    Emissions Limits — GEHC proposes that MBANS devices be permitted to have fundamental emissions of up to 0 dBm EIRP for the proposed maximum 1 MHz emission bandwidth.