At long last, the FCC is almost ready to create a dedicated spectrum band for Medical Body Area Networks, or MBANs. The spectrum was allocated in 2012, making the US the first country to allocate spectrum specifically for connected wearable medical sensors. Now, the FCC has appointed the Enterprise Wireless Alliance to serve as frequency coordinator and the EWA has launched a website where healthcare facilities can register MBANs. Health Data Management has the rundown.
The frequency set aside for MBANs is 2360 to 2400 MHz, and it overlaps with spectrum reserved for aeronautical testing. Because of that overlap, the FCC is requiring everyone who wants to use the spectrum to register, to avoid any potential conflicts. EWA will work with the Aerospace and Flight Test Radio Coordinating Council (AFTRCC) to coordinate all registrations.
Many of the connected medical sensors on the market today use WiFi, cellular, or Bluetooth for their connectivity. But the MBANs spectrum will be specifically for short range communications at a low power level. Devices that use the MBAN sepctrum can only be used indoors at healthcare facilities.
Back when this spectrum was first discussed -- and championed by the likes of Phillips and GE Healthcare -- it was thought that MBANs would be more reliable than WiFi and Bluetooth.
“The MBAN concept would allow medical professionals to place multiple inexpensive wireless sensors at different locations on or around a patient's body and to aggregate data from the sensors for backhaul to a monitoring station using a variety of communications media,” the FCC said at the time. “We conclude that an MBAN represents an improvement over traditional medical monitoring devices (both wired and wireless) in several ways, and will reduce the cost, risk and complexity associated with health care."