FCC Sets Rules for Use of Mobile Health Broadband Networks

August 22, 2014 in News

The Federal Communications Commission has issued final rules that govern the use of Medical Body Area Networks, which are wireless platforms that use wearable sensors to monitor patients’ vital signs, Health Data Management reports.

Background

MBANs enable patients to be monitored away from hospitals, thus reducing emergency transfers and exposure to hospital-acquired infections.

The networks provide frequencies to host wearable sensors that transmit data to nearby hubs and allow physicians to:

  • Conduct therapeutic functions;
  • Measure physiological parameters; and
  • Perform diagnostics.

In 2012, FCC allocated spectrum space for MBAN use. The U.S. is the first country to allocate spectrum space for MBANs, according to FCC.

Details of Rules

FCC initially finalized rules in September 2012. However, the agency issued the new rules to take “further actions to foster the development and deployment of new and innovative” MBAN devices.

Specifically, the rules create a process for choosing an MBAN coordinator, who is responsible for facilitating the use of MBAN frequencies.

The coordinator will work to reduce radio frequency interference from MBANs and other wireless devices that use a shared frequency by:

  • Establishing frequencies on which MBAN users can co-exist with other users; and
  • Restricting the use of MBAN devices to short distances and low-power networks (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 8/22).
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