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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 15/02/2002Ultrawideband is here. OK, it's there.

Friday 15/02/2002

Ultrawideband is here. OK, it's there. There being the US, where Uncle Charlie -- aka the Federal Communications Commission -- has decided to give ultrawideband radio the go-ahead. UWB to its friends, this is a brand new and very exciting way of sending data over the air by tiny packets of radio frequency energy splattered all over the spectrum. Largely independent of interference and capable of sliding past existing transmissions without anyone noticing, UWB is a system that has the potential for simultaneously providing very wide bandwidths -- potentially gigabits of the stuff -- at very low power levels that nonetheless manage to cover respectable distances. The FCC's been watching various test systems for the past two years, and is satisfied that within certain boundaries there's no reason why not.

Unlike here. Although UWB is largely independent of frequency bands, the massed bands of the European radio regulators all want a say in how -- and if -- it's to be deployed. The DTI has been looking at the FCC and conducting tests of its own which came to the conclusion some time ago that all would be well, but even it's unwilling to give any dates by which we might be able to use this system.

To my personal knowledge, research into UWB was going on in the UK some 18 years ago. Now it seems as if any local developer will be denied a market -- and indeed an environment in which to develop their wares -- while the US has companys aplenty all ready and raring to go.

If UWB is as big as I think it will be -- and it could be to wireless what the invention of the transistor was to the computer -- then this sort of foot-dragging will cost us dearly.

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