UWB Ignores The Elephant In The Room
By Mike Masnick, Wed Jun 16 04:00:00 GMT 2004

There's a big ultrawideband conference happening in Boston, and attendees seem to be talking about everything but the ongoing standards battle and the impact it may have on the UWB market.

There's definitely an excitement about the possibilities for Ultrawideband (UWB) technology. There are a variety of applications that could benefit from its high bandwidth throughput and its low power setup. People often focus on the ability to easily send large video files around a house as an example. However, the technology also has been talked about for rescue operations, since it can be used to measure precise distances and to create images of objects behind walls or buried underground. With that in mind, it's amazing that people involved with UWB can't seem to create a solid image of the biggest problem they now have: two warring camps with incompatible standards that show no sign of ever coming together.

The FCC is hosting the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Task Group on Ultrawideband Compatibility this week -- where you might think this issue would be a major point of discussion. While some news stories are using the standards fight as a minor backdrop to frame some of the issues related to UWB, it appears that attendees at the meetings are doing their best to completely ignore the elephant in the room.

The talk of the conference seems entirely focused on different issues: getting regulatory ducks in a row and brushing off concerns about interference. In fact, that article doesn't mention the dual standard problem at all.

With two separate, incompatible standards, both coming to market over the next year or so, the industry is asking for trouble. Having two separate versions of UWB with an admitted likelihood of "zero" compatibility is going to create widespread market confusion and disillusionment in yet another wireless standard. It will slow down overall adoption as many vendors and buyers will simply wait until a final standard has been named in order to avoid buying or building quickly obsolete equipment. It's as if the two sides so dislike each other that the only way they've found to deal with the battle is to completely ignore that it (and the other side) exists. While that may work in petty personal squabbles, when it comes to industry standards, they're only going to damage themselves and slow down the adoption of what could be a very useful technology.