FCC to Hire Coordinator for Medical Body Area Networks

The Federal Communications Commission published a notice in the October 6 edition of the Federal Register that it will hire a coordinator to help facilitate the development and deployment of medical area body network (MBAN) technologies.

MBAN technology is 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 or therapeutic functions, usually in healthcare facilities. In the notice, the FCC defines such devices as those that use or are capable of using the 2390-2400 MHz wireless band.

The new coordinator will facilitate use of the MBAN frequencies — which operate in shared-use bands — as well as minimize any possible interference within the spectrum. Organizations using such technologies must register their equipment with the new MBAN coordinator, as well as seek approval for installation, testing or making any changes to their MBAN equipment.

The FCC has designated the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to select the MBAN coordinator, who must meet the following criteria:

*Ability to register and maintain a database of MBAN transmitter locations and operational parameters;

*Knowledge of or experience with medical wireless systems in healthcare facilities;

*Knowledge of or experience with AMT operations;

*Ability to calculate and measure interference potential between MBAN and AMT operations and to enter into mutually satisfactory coordination agreements with the AMT coordinator;

*And ability to develop procedures to ensure that registered healthcare facilities operate an MBAN consistent with the requirements.

The coordinator, who will be elected to a 10-year term that can be terminated with adequate notice at any time if the WTB determines such an action would serve the public interest, will be required to provide the coordination and registration functions on a not-for-profit basis. They will be required to set WBAN registration and user fees that can include only the actual costs for such services. The coordinator also will be able to rely on a third-party company for technical support.

The WTB, on behalf of the FCC, will soon issue a public notice to announce procedures for interested parties to submit applications for consideration as an MBAN coordinator that will further set forth the coordinator's authority and responsibilities.