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Friday, May 23, 2008

Ultra-Low-Power Body Area Network Deserves a Dedicated Band

When you take a detailed look at those low power or ultra low power wireless solutions, inevitably you find that, for each of the solutions, a lot of efforts has been put on inference avoidance, because they all work on ISM license-free band. Bluetooth uses FHSS and has adaptive frequency hopping to avoid Wi-Fi. Zigbee implements DSSS as well as frequency hopping. But still, Z-Wave issued a white paper attacking Zigbee with tables and charts showing its poor performance under wi-fi, esp. 802.11n. And how about Z-Wave? it runs on 900 MHz to get away from Wi-Fi. Three months later, Zigbee had to issue its own whiter paper to proves its robustness. Similar things go on and on in this industry.

How much energy and cost will be saved if all of these complicated interference avoidance schemes are completely avoided? Should be tremendous!

The history is always advancing in a spiral pattern. Decades ago, the FCC free-up of ISM band aroused the so many wireless innovations that we enjoy most of the time today. It may be the time to ask for regulation again when wireless applications go deeper into our life and body, and we start to suffer.

GE Healthcare has taken the lead by filing a proposal licensed frequencies for a new, medical body sensor network radio service. FCC has responded positively

"Responding to the call for comments in the NOI, GEHC [GE Healthcare] proposes the allocation of spectrum on a secondary basis in the 2360-2400 MHz band and for the adoption of service rules under Part 95 for the operation of wireless medical ‘body sensor networks’ - or BSNs. As described by GEHC, Wireless BSN sensors would be used to replace the present generation of physiological body sensors (often used with patients in hospitals, for example) that rely upon wired cables connected to bedside monitoring equipment. GEHC states that a key benefit of eliminating the wired link with wireless BSN technology would be to reduce the chances of body sensors becoming unintentionally disconnected, thereby enhancing the safety, quality and mobility of patient care. GEHC thus requests that the Commission issue a further rule making notice in order to consider its proposal.

Although the GEHC submission is styled as an ex parte comment, we conclude that it provides sufficient basis to be treated as a petition for rule making under Section 1.401 of the Commission’s rules. Among other factors, it sets forth a comprehensive proposal for a new allocation in a specific frequency band and for service rules for a new Medical Body Area Network Service under Part 95, issues that are not presently under consideration in the MedRadio Proceeding. Thus, in order for the Commission to determine if there are sufficient reasons for instituting a rule making proceeding, we are treating the GEHC ex parte filing as a petition for rule making and seek comment on GEHC’s request.”

Here is a summary from GE Healthcare.

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