Issue #2003 - 30 (November 2003)
Motorola & XtremeSpectrum Push for
Royalty-Free UWB - Standards Debate Heats Up
Source: Ben Charny, CNET News.com
The battle between technology heavyweights over whose proposal will become a new short-range, high-speed wireless standard has heated up again, with one side now promising to offer its technology royalty-free to other companies.
The promise was made by Motorola and XtremeSpectrum, which are backing one of two proposals for a new wireless technology called ultrawideband (UWB), which creates 100mbps (megabits per second) links between devices. That's much faster than Bluetooth, a rival wireless technology now used in many of the same devices--such as cell phones and handheld computers--that UWB is destined for.
Royalties are one of two ways companies make money on their intellectual property (IP). They are collected from equipment makers based on how many devices using the technology are made or sold. IP owners also usually charge manufacturers a fee to license the technology for use in their products.
It's become "clear that for a standard to be confirmed, it must not have any licensing strings attached--it must be royalty free," XtremeSpectrum CEO Martin Rofheart said in a statement. "We believe we are eliminating any licensing concerns...and moving one step closer to enabling the broad consumer adoption that the industry desires."
An international standards body will try again next week to settle on an
industry-wide blueprint for UWB, or ultrawideband, a wireless technology meant to rival Bluetooth.
The favored proposal heading into the meeting, which starts Monday in Singapore, is backed by Intel and Texas Instruments. The proposal won a majority of the votes cast during the last meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' UWB task group, but it fell short of the necessary 75 percent.
Supporters of the rival proposal, created by newcomer XtremeSpectrum and backed by Motorola, say they've recently gained some ground, however. Electronics maker Samsung recently disclosed that it is adding the Motorola-XtremeSpectrum version of UWB to some of its products, a fact that could help win that version of UWB more votes.
"They are the first commercial consumer-electronics maker to fully embrace UWB," said XtremeSpectrum spokeswoman Diane Orr.
Samsung said in a statement that it has been using UWB in lab tests to send programming to a plasma television. It has yet to divulge which of its consumer-electronics products will get the new wireless technology.
In yet another bit of pre-meeting jockeying, UWB chipmakers Staccato Communications and Wisair said their respective versions of UWB, both based on the Intel and TI-backed proposal, could pass the Federal Communications Commission's tests if submitted to FCC labs now.
UWB creates a short-range wireless connection with a data-transfer rate of up to 480 megabits per second. That's 100 times faster than Bluetooth, a wireless standard now used in cell phones, personal digital assistants, laptops and personal computers.
The winning technology behind the UWB standard, which will bear the name 802.15.3a, will generate $1.39 billion in revenue by 2007, according to projections from Allied Business Intelligence.
For more information: http://www.motorola.com
MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: While
UWB has a potential, let us not get carried away. It might compete
against Bluetooth but will not compete with 3G CDMA. Let us
understand the fundamental law of radio physics - faster the speed,
shorter the range. Also, Bluetooth chips have become very pervasive
and inexpensive. You also do not need the speed of UWB for many
applications. Having said that, there are some applications for
high-speed radio communication across short-distances. That's where
UWB will succeed.
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