ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB013 (2012)

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ARLB013 FCC Expands Part 95 MedRadio Rules to Allow Devices in
2360-2400 MHz Band

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ARRL Bulletin 13  ARLB013
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  May 31, 2012
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB013
ARLB013 FCC Expands Part 95 MedRadio Rules to Allow Devices in
2360-2400 MHz Band

In a First Report and Order and a Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (ET 08-59) released on May 24, the FCC decided to expand
the Part 95 Personal Radio Service rules to allow medical devices to
operate on a secondary basis in the 2360-2400 MHz band. These
devices -- called Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) -- provide a way
for health care facilities to monitor their patients via wireless
networks. Because use of these frequencies will be on a secondary
basis, MBAN stations will not be allowed to cause interference to --
and must accept interference from -- primary services, including
radio amateurs who operate on a primary basis in the 2390-2395 MHz
and 2395-2400 MHz bands.

ET 08-59 can be found on the web at,
http://www.fcc.gov/document/medical-body-area-networks-first-report-and-order.

In July 2006, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and
Notice of Inquiry and Order (NOI), regarding the use of the radio
spectrum for advanced medical technologies. In December 2007, GE
Healthcare filed ex parte comments in response, proposing that the
band 2360-2400 MHz be allocated on a secondary basis for "Body
Sensor Networks" (BSNs). In April 2008, the FCC put the proposal on
Public Notice; the ARRL submitted comments, pointing out the
potential incompatibility with amateur operations. Nevertheless, in
June 2009, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that
also requested comments on possible alternatives, including
2300-2305 MHz. The ARRL followed up in October 2009 with additional
comments.

"Even though the Amateur Radio Service retains its primary status at
2390-2400 MHz, it remains to be seen how the addition of a new
secondary service in the band will work out in practice," noted ARRL
Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ. "In the past, the FCC
has declined the ARRL's request to raise the status of the Amateur
Service at 2300-2305 MHz to primary, even though there is no other
service to which this segment of the band is allocated. This is now
the only portion of the 2300-2450 MHz band -- which at one time was
available in its entirety to amateurs -- that is not encumbered by
other spectrum occupants. We hope that in the future, the FCC will
be receptive to making the Amateur Service primary in this narrow
segment, in recognition of the reduced utility of the remainder of
the band."

In making the decision to allow these devices in the 2360-2400 MHz
band, the FCC noted that the costs of permitting MBAN operation "are
limited to the risk of increased interference, which we minimize by
adopting rules to protect other licensed operations in these bands.
We find that the risk of increased interference is minimal and is
greatly outweighed by the benefits of the MBAN rules we adopt
today."

Sumner observed that with this decision, "the Commission has
effectively taken 2360-2400 MHz off the table for consideration for
commercial wireless broadband."
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