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Wireless Medical Telemetry Service

FCC Update on Medical Telemetry Issues

Officials from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) presented updated information on medical telemetry issues at ASHE's 49th Annual Conference & Technical Exhibition in San Antonio. The FCC recently adopted new rules that will allocate spectrum space to serve Medical Body Area Network (MBAN) devices, which have the potential to provide many clinical benefits to patients in the future. The FCC is also evaluating whether to relocate existing Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) devices operating in the TV channel 37 band, an action that could mean moving hundreds of thousands of medical telemetry transmitters to other areas of the spectrum. Watch the presentation from the Annual Conference below to learn more about these issues and how they will affect health care facilities.

In response to the growing concerns about interference resulting from new digital television transmitters, low power television transmitters, and greater use of Private Land Mobile Radio equipment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done the following:

  • Established the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), dedicating bands of frequencies to promote interference-free operation of medical telemetry systems;
  • Appointed ASHE as the Frequency Coordinator for the WMTS bands;
  • Mandated that all transmitters operating in the WMTS bands must be registered with ASHE to ensure interference-free operation.

ASHE has selected Comsearch as their technical partner in providing frequency coordination services in the WMTS bands.  Comsearch will provide a broad range of services to ASHE and its members including development of a WMTS device database and device registration capabilities.

Find out about ASHE's WMTS registration process and other important information by clicking on links below.  Learn how it can help you protect your patients.

In the US, wireless medical telemetry can be found in the following spectrum blocks:

  • Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS)
  • TV, Private Land Mobile Radio Service (PLMRS), Paging and the Personal Radio Service
  • Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM)

So, why WMTS?  The considerations for use of each band are listed below.

WMTS (608-614 MHz, 1395-1400 MHz, 1427-1432 MHz)

  • This is the only designated frequency spectrum for medical telemetry systems
  • You are protected from interference due to other wireless devices
  • There are comparatively fewer interference sources
  • Both the FCC and FDA encourage use of WMTS
  • New FCC-approved equipment permitted (the FCC will not approve new equipment for use in the TV & PLMRS bands)
  • Frequencies are coordinated to ensure interference-free operation

TV and PLMRS (174-216 MHz, 450-608 MHz, 614-668 MHz)

  • No interference protection.  Hospitals must accept interference or shut down if causing interference
  • Hundreds of thousands of existing PLMRS devices such as mobile radios or walkie-talkies used by policemen, firemen, taxicabs, and delivery trucks
  • Tens of  thousands more PLMRS devices expected in the future
  • High power operations already permitted in portions of the PLMRS spectrum with more high power operations permitted in the future
  • Interference from mobile operations is unpredictable
  • New Digital TV stations commencing operation daily
  • The FCC will not approve equipment  after October 2002
  • Frequencies are not coordinated

ISM (2400-2483 MHz)

  • No interference protection.  Hospitals must accept interference
  • Millions of existing operations including wireless LANS and microwave ovens
  • Increased interference potential with popularity of wireless networking technologies
  • Frequencies are not coordinated


Comsearch

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association
155 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 400. Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-422-3800 | Fax: 312-422-4571
ashe@aha.org