IBM, General Electric, Philips and other large tech firms have lobbied the FCC for at least the past year to allow wireless medical devices to use a range of wireless spectrum (2360MHz to 2400MHz) for vital sign monitoring. A recent report from Bloomberg, however, revealed that aircraft maker Boeing uses that range of spectrum to test the safety of its planes.
Plane safety vs. wireless health opportunity?
GE told the FCC that range of spectrum is the only section of spectrum where remote monitoring would be cost-effective, the Bloomberg report noted. Meanwhile, Boeing claims that using the spectrum to transmit medical signals would interfere with flight-test data and result in $50,000 delays.
“This is a technical issue, and they’ll have to battle it out,” Robert Litan, an economist and Internet policy expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told Bloomberg. “It might look like a fight about spectrum, but at the end of the day, it’s all about money.”
Preston Marshall, director of wireless networking at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering, in Los Angeles had perhaps the best one-liner in the Bloomberg article: “We’re talking a few people who do telemetry or testing, versus potentially everyone’s grandmother,” Marshall said.