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Wireless Networks of Implanted Medical Devices

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Released: November 30, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

November 30, 2011
Bruce Romano, 202-418-2124
Action empowers broadband and health IT to transform health care for patients
Washington, D.C.—The Federal Communications Commission today advanced its mobile broadband
agenda by adopting rules that will enable a new generation of wireless medical devices that could be used
to restore functions to paralyzed limbs. Medical Micropower Networks (MMNs) are ultra-low power
wideband networks consisting of multiple transmitters implanted in the body that use electric currents to
activate and monitor nerves and muscles.
The 2010 National Broadband Plan observed that the use of spectrum-agile radios and other
techniques can significantly increase the efficient use of radio spectrum to meet growing demand for this
valuable resource. MMNs illustrate how advanced technology can enable the more efficient use of
spectrum to deliver innovative new services.
Each year, millions of Americans suffer from spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries,
strokes, and various neuromusculoskeletal disorders. MMNs can provide effective therapy for these
debilitating conditions by taking the place of damaged nerves to restore sensation, mobility, and other
functions to limbs and other parts of the body. As the FCC also recognized in the 2010 National
Broadband Plan
, wireless technology can improve the quality of life for individuals and lower the cost of
health care. Today’s action advances this broadband health care agenda.
The FCC initiated this proceeding in response to a petition from the Alfred Mann Foundation,
which has built prototype MMN systems and conducted extensive testing that demonstrates that this new
medical technology can reliably operate in shared spectrum to deliver vital therapies. The action the FCC
takes today will allow devices such as those being tested by Alfred Mann to proceed on the path to patient
use as well as inspire researchers to begin work on the next generation of implanted medical radio
Action by the Commission on November 30, 2011 by Report and Order (FCC 11-176). Chairman
Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, and Clyburn. Separate statements issued by Chairman
Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, and Clyburn.
ET Docket No. 09-36.
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