Feeds

White space fillers are hospital system killers

Spectrum analysis

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?