Philips suggests dedicated mHealth spectrum

By Brian Dolan

Philips DirectLife Activity MonitorLast summer we reported on GE Healthcare's proposal to the FCC that the agency dedicate about 40 MHz of spectrum for medical body area networks (MBANs). The FCC recently put out a call for comments on the proposal and received an interesting one from Philips, according to a report from ZDNet.

Philips suggests that the FCC consider allocating spectrum to enable MBANs to use the spectrum inside a care facility but also enable consumer health care products to make use of the dedicated spectrum, too.

"Any device used in a hospital would have to be extensively regulated, which will be reflected in the price, so Philips sees two markets developing, one industry and one consumer," ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn writes. "A system sold for the consumer market, collecting things like blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or heart rate data, would be a different kettle of fish. It would use a smaller slice of spectrum, with WiFi or cellular systems as backhaul. It would also be transmitting much less frequently than a hospital system — just 2 percent of the time against 25 percent, Philips estimates."

Philips suggest that the FCC allocate just 10 MHz of spectrum instead of 40 MHz. A narrower frequency band located close to (but not within) frequencies already in use for voice and data transmission will enable a large consumer market, according to Philips. This connected consumer health market would spring up alongside increasingly popular smartphones like the iPhone and Android devices, according to the company.

One of the more high profile consumer health devices launched in the past year is Philips' DirectLife activity monitor. Notably, the device feeds it data into the DirectLife analytics online portal by plugging the small device into a PC via USB connector. It's mobile but not wirelessly enabled. Exciting to read that Philips envisions a wireless consumer health market, however.

Interesting and worthwhile read over at ZDNet