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Staccato CEO sets the record straight on UWB

Posted: 24 Feb 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:UWB technology  Wi-Fi Wireless PAN  Bluetooth market  60 GHz 

3. Intel did not abandon UWB
Another well-publicised UWB story was the news of Intel closing its Ultrawideband Networking Operations (UNO). Even though the news broke around the time of WiQuest shutting down, Intel had actually shuttered its UNO operations several months earlier. It's important to note that the UNO group was a start-up of sorts that was funded by Intel's New Business Initiatives arm, not by a product group within Intel. When a business review was held, Intel decided that UWB (similar to its view of Bluetooth) is not considered part of their core business, and decided to "buy" the technology if they needed it. Few remember that Intel also started and prematurely exited USB and Bluetooth businesses in similar fashion, two of the most prevalent connectivity technologies on the PC platform today. The USB business was eventually sold off to Cypress Semiconductor, and the Bluetooth group closed down. This is typical of Intel for its non-core businesses. It drives technology during the incubation stages, but then allow outside vendors to take it over after it matures. In the UWB segment, Intel has also invested in Staccato and Wisair, having participated in a round of funding last November for Staccato. If UWB technology becomes important to Intel's core business, then look for them to make moves similar to those in the Wi-Fi market where they acquired Envara, an Israeli Wi-Fi start-up where a significant portion of Intel's wireless chip set development still exists today.

4. UWB will get a makeover in 2009
New developments are sure to breathe new life into UWB technology. Companies like Staccato are providing next-generation solutions that deliver on the promise of UWB as a high-speed, low-power and low-cost wireless technology for personal area networks. In addition, these new solutions support a regulatory footprint that allows worldwide operation. The U.S., Japan, South Korea, the EU and, most recently, China have all approved UWB operations. The lack of approved spectrum had been a barrier to the adoption of the technology, but that barrier has now been removed. Another early barrier was the disappointing performance associated with some of the initial UWB products—delivering only about 25 per cent on the true capability of the technology. This had more to do with Wireless USB protocol overhead to support backward compatibility than technology limitations. Consumers saw performance on the order of 50 Mb/s. Although this is still roughly 2 times faster than Wi-Fi and 50 times faster than Bluetooth, it fell well short of its wired USB counterpart. We are now seeing "native" implementations of Wireless USB products that can achieve greater than 200Mb/s throughput, and we expect this to improve further. Wireless USB, the more recognisable brand of UWB technology, will also get a makeover this year. The Wireless USB specification will move to 1.1, which among several incremental improvements will include worldwide operation and emphasis on high-performance solutions. We are delivering those solutions today, and now believe we have removed all of the barriers to mass adoption of the technology.

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