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UWB Standardization Collapses
Posted: 21-Jan-2006 [Source: ABI]

[ABI says "UWB community has shot itself in the foot over IP."]

Oyster Bay, NY -- On Thursday in Hawaii, the 802.15.3a UWB task group was officially disbanded after a stunning 94.7% voted in favor of the break-up. Ironically, this represents probably the only time there has been consensus in the working group for at least two years. Although this outcome was on the cards with predictions of disbandment coming from notable sources such as Edward Thomas, former Chief Engineer of the FCC, the reality is still a difficult pill to swallow. Who will win out?

It seems very likely that the UWB community has shot itself in the foot over IP. With neither camp willing to compromise -- even with the introduction of a solution by Pulse~LINK that would support both PHYs -- the battle for supremacy has relocated to the market. The WiMedia alliance points to its multiple silicon sources as a major plus point and in doing so, pours scorn on the single source for DS-UWB, which was referred to as a proprietary solution recently by Jim Lansford, CTO of Alereon. The Freescale-backed UWB Forum points to the fact that products are already in the market as a key indicator of its technology's proven readiness, while also insinuating a weakness in the WiMedia proposition arising from its lack of products.

The situation is very reminiscent of the VHS versus Betamax equation, in that it's no longer about the technical suitability and proficiency of any technology, but about market traction, momentum and backing. This is not a cut-and-dried battle for market share, though. It is virgin territory and there is no guarantee that lack of standardization will not result in competition from other technologies and regulatory bodies' reluctance to approve a non-standardized technology, significantly reducing the final size of the pie that each camp is so bent on seizing.

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