Amateur Radio News

January 7, 2012
By

by Tom Weeden WJ9H: Thanks to Chapter 24 

In their regular meeting late last year, the four FCC Commissioners unanimously agreed to allocate spectrum and adopt service and technical rules for the utilization of new implanted medical devices that operate on 413-457 MHz (70 cm). These devices will be used on a secondary basis as part of the Medical Data Radiocommunication Service in Part 95 of the FCC rules. The Amateur Radio Service also has a secondary allocation on the 70 cm band. These new rules are the result of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that the FCC released in March 2009. A Report & Order that will define these new rules is expected soon. According to the FCC, these devices would greatly expand the use of functional electric stimulation to restore sensation, mobility and function to those persons with paralyzed limbs and organs; they would be implanted in a patient and function as wireless broadband medical micropower networks (MMNs). Calling the new rules an “advance[ment of] its mobile broadband agenda,” the FCC said this will create “a new generation of wireless medical devices that could be used to restore functions to paralyzed limbs. Medical Micropower Networks (MMNs) are ultra-low power wideband networks consisting of multiple transmitters implanted in the body that use electric currents to activate and monitor nerves and muscles.”

The Commission also noted that its National Broadband Plan — released in 2010 — observed “that the use of spectrum-agile radios and other techniques can significantly increase the efficient use of radio spectrum to meet growing demand for this valuable resource. MMNs illustrate how advanced technology can enable the more efficient use of spectrum to deliver innovative new services.” The American Radio Relay League, in comments filed in 2009, said, “The Amateur Service has a practical inability to protect patients wearing RF susceptible MMNs from interference from ongoing amateur operations in the 420-450 MHz band, and therefore all MMN operation is going to have to be conditioned on the ability to withstand and operate in the presence of such high-power signals, and thus subordinate in allocation status to the Amateur Service.”

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