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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

UWB Soap Opera

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Techworld nicely sums up the soap opera being played out in the UWB forum. UWB is a wireless access method which offers very high speed data at short distances, perfect for Home Networking and Personal Area Networking. The two competing factions are DS-UWB (Direct Spreading) and MB-OFDM (MutiBand OFDM) backed by Freescale and Intel respectively in the IEEE working group. Both have a very different take on the applications of such a standardised UWB. Whereas Freescale is gunning for using it as the physical layer for wireless USB which can interwork with existing products in the market, Intel backs on deploying new products which can communicate wirelessly with each other.

A point worthy of mention is the Telco's huge dislike for UWB, the reason being interference.
No serious evidence of interference has been put forward, but it operates in spectrum the telcos have paid to license, and it gives phones yet another high-bandwidth I/O channel that the telcos can't bill for.
They have paid a lot of money for their spectrum and its only natural that they will try and protect it. Makes solid business sense. But from an engineers point of view, my point of view, they are trying to block a new technology which offers a lot of promise. Combine UWB with Mesh Networking and you can think of so many possibilities. Not surprisingly both these IEEE working goups are riddled with politics and going nowhere.

Even within the FCC's guidelines, which states that USB devices should emit lesser power than the "unintentional radios", UWB still has a lot of teeth. The early products are already on the market or are scheduled to hit. Once they become popular, the demand for applying this technology to other areas will increase.

MB-OFDM will finally make it into the mobile phones then.

Tags: UWB Intel Freescale Motorola DS-UWB MB-OFDM FCC Mobile Wireless USB 2.0
posted by Rajiv, 6:18 AM

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