FCC updates Experimental Radio Service rules with new medical testing license

The Federal Communications Commission has revised and modernized its experimental licensing program to help create testbeds designed to advance the development and deployment of wireless technology for healthcare apps, according to a Jan. 31 FCC report and order.

The Commission's revision of the Experimental Radio Service (ERS) rules created three new types of licenses including a medical testing license that will be available to healthcare facilities with radio frequency expertise to assess newly developed RF-based medical devices for patient compatibility, electromagnetic compatibility and to conduct clinical trials at patients' homes or in other geographic areas that are not within the healthcare licensee's control. 

The FCC Commission believes the medical program experimental radio license will "expedite the process by which medical equipment is approved under its equipment authorization procedures, eliminate the need to obtain multiple experimental licenses, and encourage the creation of test-beds for medical device innovation," the commission's order states. The agency proposed that this license would be limited to experiments for therapeutic and diagnostic medical equipment designed to comply with its rules for such equipment. 

"The Order we just approved reforms the experimental licensing program here at the FCC, and creates the possibility for a testbed for wireless medical devices," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in a written statement. "Our Office of Engineering and Technology, led by Julius Knapp, will begin the process of reaching out to our federal agency partners as well as the private sector with the goal of creating testbeds that are  specifically designed to advance the development and deployment of wireless technology for health care applications."

In September 2012, the FCC posted its final rules for Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs), which will consist of wearable monitors that send non-voice data to nearby hubs and will free patients from their hospital beds. The FCC is allocating 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2360-2400 MHz band for MBANs, with the 2360-2390 MHz band to be used indoors only, and the 2390-2400 MHz band to accommodate outdoor use.

To learn more:
- read the FCC report and order