FCC extends bandwidth freeze over hospital equipment concerns

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The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) this week extended a freeze until the end of 2005 on licensing high-powered private land mobile radio service users in the 460-470 Megahertz (MHz) band.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and its American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) had pushed for the freeze to ensure hospitals using medical telemetry equipment have enough time to adopt newer Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) bands and to make sure that hospital telemetry devices are not affected by interference.

In September 2003, the AHA notified the FCC that hospitals were behind in migration of medical telemetry systems to WMTS frequencies and that high-power use in the 460-470 MHz band could interfere with medical telemetry systems that have not migrated to the WMTS frequencies. The AHA asked the FCC not to lift its freeze on such licenses and proposed a 30-month plan for medical telemetry operations to transition to the WMTS spectrum.

The ASHE has created a process for hospitals and healthcare facilities that are still using low-powered telemetry systems in the 460-470 MHz band to register their equipment. The AHA, ASHE and the government will use the database to help facilities transition to the new WMTS band.