GE, Philips Get FCC Approval for Medical Use of Airwaves

General Electric Co. and Royal Philips Electronics NV won U.S. approval to monitor hospital patients using airwaves dedicated to flight testing by aerospace companies led by Boeing Co.

The Federal Communications Commission on a 5-0 vote today decided medical-equipment makers could employ wireless monitoring that may rid hospital rooms of nests of cables and let patients move out of expensive intensive-care wards.

GE Healthcare proposed the use of new airwaves for patient monitoring in 2007. Aerospace companies said wireless medical data could foul streams of flight-test telemetry from missiles and planes, endangering pilots and people on the ground.

The two sides negotiated a solution they asked the FCC to adopt, and point to it as a model for sharing airwaves to meet increasing demand from data-hungry mobile devices.

Under the rules approved today, hospitals could wirelessly monitor patients using low-power devices that shut off if the patients move outdoors. Hospitals face more restrictions if they are near a ground-receiving station for aerial telemetry.

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