Feeds

White space fillers are hospital system killers

Spectrum analysis

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Hospitals in the USA fear plans to fill white space - unused TV frequencies - will have a knock-on effect on the systems they use to monitor patients wandering around their buildings. So they are lobbying the Federal Communications Channel to reserve some more frequency for them.

In the US, medical telemetry systems are supposed to operate in channel 37, otherwise known as around 608MHz. Ever since a local TV station knocked out systems in a Dallas hospital in 1998 the FCC has blocked out channel 37 for medical telemetry systems, although deployments were allowed to use other frequencies on the understanding they migrate to channel 37 in due course. But with so many frequencies lying empty there has been little incentive for them to do so. Until now.

Enter Google, Microsoft and allies in the Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA), who want to fill those white spaces with intelligent radios that avoid colliding with TV signals - but they could end up colliding with medical systems.

"If a new white space application that's operating thousands of times more powerfully came online, either in the hospital or outside the hospital, it could very well directly interfere with the telemetry system and prevent patient monitoring," Tim Kottak, engineering general manager for GE Healthcare told CNET.

He wants the FCC to block off channels 36 and 38, just to be sure, and to block off channels 33 to 35, too, for a year or so, as many legacy systems operate in channel 34 (otherwise known as around 576MHz).

But with so many demands for available spectrum the FCC is unlikely to reserve great chunks of spectrum, even if the WIA has agreed that white-space kit will avoid channel 37. This means medical systems may have to find somewhere else to operate.

In the UK, and Europe, they generally hang around 2.4GHz, and make use of standard radio technologies such as Bluetooth and ZigBee. There has been an attempt to harmonise a band at 402-405MHz for very-low-power radio connections, although that is really for implanted transceivers rather than hospital-wide systems.

In the UK the transition to digital TV has seen wireless microphones struggle to find space, with the companies using them too poorly organised to jointly bid for spectrum. Hospital systems might seem more important, but their makers are equally lacking in funds or coordination and (in the US) may face problems as early as next February - when white space radio could be in operation. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.