The FFC has agreed to delay plans to lift power restrictions on Airport Terminal Use (ATU) frequencies operating in the PLMR (Private Land Mobile Radio Services) band based on AHA concerns that relaxing current power limits could lead to harmful interference with wireless medical telemetry equipment.
"We will continue to take steps to protect medical telemetry from interference because it is used to protect the safety of life," the agency said. The FCC in October 2002 proposed lifting the restrictions to improve communications at large airports. But in an order released Jan. 24, the agency said it agreed with the AHA medical telemetry task force's contention that allowing higher-powered ATU frequencies into the 460-470 MHz band would have a "negative impact" on wireless medical equipment operating in the band. The FCC said it will delay lifting the restrictions until Jan. 30, 2006, 30 days after an FCC freeze on high-powered users in the 460-470 MHz band expires.
Not mentioned is whether this move delays further adoption of PLMR band by commercial businesses. Business using PLMR radios for dispatch and service applications are much more likely to impact 460-470 MHz hospital telemetry systems -- few hospitals are built close to airports.
Mary Beth Savary Taylor, the AHA's vice president for executive branch relations, ...encouraged hospitals still operating in the 460-470 MHz band to move by the end of the year into the wireless medical telemetry service (WMTS) bandwith, which the FCC has set aside for medical telemetry equipment.
Someone should tell Mary Beth that there are two bands designated by both the FDA and the FCC for medical telemetry: WMTS and ISM. The article goes on for another four paragraphs about the necessity to switch to WMTS and mentions the "Dallas incident" of 1998 that started everything. Not once is ISM mentioned as an alternative to WMTS -- a consistent oversight that is amplified and distorted by some medical device vendors.
Three vendors have fielded new proprietary access points based on the WMTS band. Little is known about their capacity, scalability or coexistance. Virtually every vendor with wireless medical devices also offers ISM wireless communications. Many factors effect wireless decisions: proprietary or open system, switching costs, trade-offs between recrystaled upgrades and new systems with new technology. Hospitals should be informed of all their choices by the association that is supposed to represent them.