End the Mobile Phone Ban in Hospitals

Here are the standards, and the argument, to let people use cellphones in hospitals

3 min read

Does anyone know a doctor without a mobile phone? In the United States, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, approximately 74 percent of the adult population subscribe to mobile phone service, and various sources estimate the average individual talk time per month is about 7 hours. Thus it is only logical that people bringing mobile phones and other transmitting personal electronic devices such as Blackberries, iPhones, and wireless laptops into hospitals have an expectation of using them. For doctors, these devices have evolved from a mere convenience to an essential part of medical practice. Patients and visitors are also increasingly dependent upon wireless communication, especially during times of happiness or crisis. But is the use of mobile phones and other transmitting devices in hospitals safe?

As the wireless revolution gathered steam at the end of the last century, many hospitals reacted to concern over electromagnetic interference with critical medical equipment by implementing precautionary bans on mobile phones throughout the facility. As policing of bans has become increasingly impractical and the benefits of wireless communication argue for a better solution, a growing number of hospitals have relaxed enforcement or adopted more liberal policies. Without an appropriate management strategy, however, the unrestricted use of mobile phones may make hospitals vulnerable to potentially dangerous, albeit uncommon, electromagnetic interference risks.

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The Cellular Industry’s Clash Over the Movement to Remake Networks

The wireless industry is divided on Open RAN’s goal to make network components interoperable

13 min read
Photo: George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

We've all been told that 5G wireless is going to deliver amazing capabilities and services. But it won't come cheap. When all is said and done, 5G will cost almost US $1 trillion to deploy over the next half decade. That enormous expense will be borne mostly by network operators, companies like AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and dozens more around the world that provide cellular service to their customers. Facing such an immense cost, these operators asked a very reasonable question: How can we make this cheaper and more flexible?

Their answer: Make it possible to mix and match network components from different companies, with the goal of fostering more competition and driving down prices. At the same time, they sparked a schism within the industry over how wireless networks should be built. Their opponents—and sometimes begrudging partners—are the handful of telecom-equipment vendors capable of providing the hardware the network operators have been buying and deploying for years.

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