WiMAX “better for mhealth”

Mhealth is a topic attracting much of the limelight in the telecoms industry at present, and its regional importance was not lost this week with the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit Middle East taking place alongside the main Telco World Summit event in Dubai.

Robert Istepanian, professor of data communications and director of mobile information and network technologies at Kingston University, London, courted controversy with his presentation on “4G health: The Long Term Evolution of mobile health.” Although Istepanian welcomed the advent of 4G, due to its all IP architecture and 100Mbps throughput, which offers lots of opportunities for mhealth in terms of diagnostics potential, he championed WiMAX as the enabler of mhealth services.

“The telecom community will be fighting for LTE, while the mhealth community is advocating the use of WiMAX,” he said. “There are many applications for which LTE will be useful, but I believe WiMAX will be a more viable infrastructure, especially for the developing world. Its performance is close to that of LTE and enough for 4G health applications.”

Moving on to 4G health in general, Istepanian’s main focus is on the development of mobile tools to help fight diabetes, a disease with a prevalence in the Middle East that is among the highest in the world. In Saudi Arabia alone around 21 per cent of health expenditure in 2010 was on diabetes and this figure is set to increase significantly. As a result, Istepanian believes that current mhealth services and applications will flourish very well in the fight against diabetes.

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