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01.30.2006
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
For UWB wireless, the path is not so clear

A wireless technology touted to replace the cables behind TV sets and entertainment centers appears to be headed for a format war, after two industry organizations formally broke off their collaboration, the Associated Press reported.

The UWB Forum and the WiMedia Alliance voted to shut down a working group that sought to create a common standard for a radio technology known as ultra-wideband, or UWB. Utilizing UWB allows data transmission at extremely high rates, more than enough for high-definition TV signals, at ranges up to 30ft.

Samsung Electronics and chipmakers Intel and Texas Instruments support the UWB Forum, led by Motorola spin off Freescale Semiconductor and the WiMedia Alliance. It had been trying to unite on a single standard since forming a task group with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2003.

Freescale got a head start on UWB in 2003 by buying Xtreme Spectrum, a company that already had a working prototype chip, and wanted that chip to be the basis of the standard. The WiMedia Alliance, on the other hand, wanted to go in a different direction. Neither side has compromised.

The UWB Forum and Freescale are now promoting a personal-computer-centered approach to introducing usage of UWB, emphasizing it as a replacement for the USB cables that connect computers with their peripherals. It’s called Cable-Free USB. Belkin and Gefen announced two products that use Cable-Free USB at CES this month.

The first products using the WiMedia Alliance’s technology are expected by the end of the year. Its products will carry the Certified Wireless USB logo. Two of the standards are incompatible. Both have FCC approval.

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