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FCC makes 2.360 GHz to 2.400 GHz spectrum available for use by Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs)

24 May 2012

The FCC has decided to expand the Part 95 MedRadio rules to permit the development of new Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) devices in the 2.360 GHz to 2.400 GHz band.

The MBAN concept allows data from multiple, inexpensive wireless sensors at different locations on or around a patient’s body to be aggregated at a hub for onward transmission to a central patient management system. The spectrum allocation will be divided into two blocks:

 2.360 GHz to 2.390 GHz 

 for use within healthcare facilities

 2.390 GHz to 2.400 GHz 

 for use within the home.

These spectrum allocations are expected to support more reliable communications than can be achieved in the 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz Industrial Scientific and Medical (ISM) band and usage will be subject to licensing.

The IEEE 802.15.6 Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) working group has already published a standard that is compatible with FCC MBAN rules. The IEEE 802.15.6-2012 standard for Body Area Network (BAN) operation is intended for “short range, wireless communication in the vicinity of, or inside, a human body”. The goal is to support both extremely low power operation, as well as data rates of up to 10 Mbps. This is achieved by supporting three distinctive physical layer (PHY) interfaces: Narrow Band (NB), Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and Human Body Communications (HBC).  Only the NB PHY is available for operation in the the 2.360 GHz to 2.400 GHz band.

Meanwhile, IEEE 802.15 WPAN working group (Task Group 4j) is developing a second standard that will be compatible with the FCC MBAN rules. This standard will be a tweaked version of the successful IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee standard.

Within Europe, work is under-way that will hopefully deliver harmonised spectrum allocations together with Harmonised Standards for MBAN equipment within the next two years.

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