FCC To Explore Use Of Airborne Technologies During Disasters
The FCC is looking at ways to restore communications after disasters like 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which left over 3 million people without telephone service after crippling 38 emergency call centers in the New Orleans area. The FCC voted to explore using airborne technology in use with the U.S. military to bring temporary communications to disaster areas.
Reuters news agency reports that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said "If you imagine a cell tower that's floating or flying in the sky, that's what this technology is." The agency is seeking comment on what technologies are already in use and what is being developed, and is investigating whether the technologies can work across a common network accessible by all agencies, first responders and the public.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said "Much, much more needs to be done to ready this technology for primetime." She also cautioned against interference with the national airspace system and existing telecoms networks. The FCC's notice also asks questions about the cost of deploying aerial networks, coordinating among multiple agencies and issues with deployments near Canada and Mexico.
The FCC also voted on Thursday to set aside a chunk of airwaves for connecting wireless medical devices to allow for more convenient and cost-effective health monitoring. Allocating spectrum for so-called Medical Body Area Networks (MBANs) is intended to allow doctors to monitor a patient's vital signs at home or in the hospital via low-cost wearable sensors