Update: Final Elements of Medical Body Area Network Rules Now in Effect

Back in May 2012, the FCC authorized Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs) to operate in the 2360-2400 MHz region – immediately below the heavily-used unlicensed band that houses Bluetooth and most Wi-Fi. An MBAN, as envisioned by the FCC, is a little like a cellular wireless system in miniature, worn on a patient’s body. Sensors around the body monitor various functions, depending on the patient’s needs, and communicate their data to a central hub, worn by the patient or located close by. The hub aggregates data from the various sensors, and transmits those data using the health care facility’s network (possibly over Wi-Fi or Ethernet) to a central control point, from where the data are made available to the professional staff for interpretation and appropriate response.

Thanks to the hilariously-named Paperwork Reduction Act, a number of the regulatory details needed separate approval by the Office of Management and Budget. This had still not happened more than 19 months after FCC approval.

But that has now changed. With a public notice in the Federal Register, the FCC has announced that OMB signed off on Sections 95.1215(c), 95.1217(a)(3), 95.1223 and 95.1225 of the MBAN rules back in October. (Time does not seem to be of the essence as far as the FCC is concerned.) With the Federal Register notice now in print, those rules took effect as of December 27, 2013.

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