Motorola fights on in ultrawideband battle

Motorola fights on in ultrawideband battle

Summary: Motorola says that Intel's proposed ultrawideband standard risks poisoning the market, but there is an alternative

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TOPICS: Networking
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The fight over the ultrawideband (UWB) wireless data standard has been going on for nearly a year, between the group headed by Intel and Texas Instruments - the Multiband OFDM Alliance, or MBOA -- and that by Motorola, which favours Direct Sequence CDMA. Neither side can muster the 75 percent of the votes in the IEEE 802.15.3a standards committee needed to move on, and neither side is standing down.

At stake is a market potentially bigger than Wi-Fi, with UWB touted by many as essential to consumer electronics -- doing for that what Wi-Fi's done for home computing. But many questions remain: whose technology best matches the way people will want to use it, which one will best match whatever the regulators allow, and how bad the risk of interference to other services is.

John Barr, director of standards realisation, and Martin Rofheart, director of UWB Operations, both at Motorola, spoke to ZDNet UK about recent developments in UWB.

ZD: How do you react to Intel's statement that it will push ahead with the MBOA and go to market regardless of the standards committee?
MR: Direct Sequence will be in the market and it will be there first. We have second-generation production silicon, and third generation coming out soon. Intel has PowerPoint presentations. We've shown three streams of high-definition video simultaneously at our booth in CES with Samsung.

JB: Intel would like to become the standard, but they can't convince the wider technical community because it's full of people who know what they're talking about. You don't create a standard just by putting up a Web site with 70 logos on it. But they own Wireless USB and are trying to pull UWB back into that. They're trying to block any other standard, that's the way they've been operating in 802.15.3a from the beginning.

Is it going to have to be one standard or the other?
MR: We share common spectrum with the Intel solution, so the sensible thing is to have harmonisation and assure quality of service. At the last meeting [of the committee] in Vancouver we did what we could to come to an agreement. We made a proposal so that we can come together -- come up with a standard that works better than just picking up one of the standards. And then at the last ad-hoc meeting, we had good participation to move the standard forward by letting different UWB radios talk to each other. It isn't costly to do this -- you don't need extra transistors and from a technical perspective there's virtually no cost.

Topic: Networking

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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