FCC Initiates MedRadio Proceeding

In a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), Notice of Inquiry (NOI) and Order (FCC 06-103), the FCC proposed designating an additional 2 MHz of spectrum to a new service for advanced medical radio communication ("MedRadio") devices. The new service would include existing Medical Implant Communications service spectrum at 402-405 MHz and add 401-402 MHz and 405-406 MHz, for a total of 5 MHz of spectrum. Under the new service, the FCC would allow the use of body-worn transmitting devices, as well as implant devices.

Some of the issues raised in the NPRM include what bandwidths should be allowed in the new spectrum and also potential interference to COSPAS-SARSAT emergency location services, which, starting in February 2009 will only operate on 406.025 MHz, very close to the top of the proposed MedRadio band at 406 MHz. The FCC proposed allowing devices that do not employ frequency monitoring to use the new bands at 401-402 MHz and 405-406 MHz.

While the proposed additional MedRadio devices' spectrum at 400 MHz does not directly affect broadcasters, it may provide another option for users of devices now operating on unused TV channel 37. With 1,000 kW ERP DTV signals being transmitted on channels 36 and 38, medical devices using channel 37 may receive interference even if the broadcast facility meets all FCC emission mask requirements. Opening the 400 MHz spectrum could allow migration away from the channel 37 operating region.

If you are interested in current developments in wireless medical devices and the impact that had on this proceeding, browse through the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), Notice of Inquiry (NOI) and Order (FCC 06-103).