FCC Approves Spectrum for Medical Monitoring

Adam Mazmanian
National Journal

The Federal Communications Commission welcomed Democratic member Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican member Ajit Pai to their first open meeting with an uncontroversial slate of votes.

The unanimous approval of a dedicated spectrum grant for medical monitoring networks opens the door for a new generation of networked medical devices that can allow for wireless patient monitoring in hospitals as well as offer remote monitoring for patients with a range of conditions ranging from heart disease to diabetes.

The FCC is working with the Food and Drug Administration to streamline the approval of medical devices to operate on the new network.

The decision makes the United States the first country in the world to dedicate spectrum for medical networks, and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said the move opens the door for U.S. companies to take the lead in the development of these technologies. In the private sector, General Electric and Philips Electronics led the effort to dedicate spectrum for these devices.

The commission unanimously approved a notice of inquiry to study the use of emergency airborne communications networks. Genachowski marveled at the sci-fi aspects of what he described as a "cell tower that's floating or flying in the sky." The Commission voted 5-0 to change a spectrum use rule that makes it easier for operators of legacy 2G networks to upgrade.