Recently, the FDA confirmed the use of medical micropower networks (MMNs) in four blocks of the 400MHz range of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum. The spectrum has a range of about 3 kHz to 300 GHz and is used for many of our modern conveniences such as television and radio.

The basic idea of the MMN technology is to connect together microstimulator implants that can use electrical charges to activate/stimulate various limbs as well as make muscles contract in those suffering from paralysis and other similar conditions. These implants work by bypassing areas of the nervous system that have been impaired by strokes or spinal cord or brain injuries.  By artifically stimulating these regions, the implants act as a conduit for an electrical signal/impulse to travel to and from.

Opposition exists from radio and television broadcasters who assert that there could be wireless interference which would affect how the implants function. That claim is refuted by the Alfred Mann Foundation, a strong proponent of MMNs who submitted a petition to the FCC requesting them to open up that spectrum range.

The Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF) is a medical research foundation dedicated to bringing advanced medical technologies to the public to provide significant improvements to the health, security and quality of life for people suffering from debilitating medical conditions. Founded by Alfred Mann, the foundation states that the tests have proved that the medical systems can withstand interference as long as all four blocks of spectrum are open.

Despite the opposition, the FCC pushed forward with its decision to open up the wireless spectrum for medical applications.

“According to Network World, three of the spectrum blocks are used by the federal government for things like defense radar, and the Department of Defense will allow MMNs to use them. But the fourth block, requested by the Alfred Mann Foundation, is used by broadcast media outlets that stream live content from news events — the foundation contends that the new networks can be shared with other users, and did not request exclusive access to the part of the spectrum used by broadcast outlets.”

According to the article, a commissioner from the FCC states that the new rule, “may be the most dramatic step we’ve taken to harness the benefits of communications technology for healthcare.”

Source: The Verge