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Discord grows over short-haul wireless spec

Posted: 12 Mar 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ieee? 802.15.3a task group? wireless communications? multiband implementation? ultrawideband?

The IEEE's 802.15.3a task group is set to sort through upwards of 25 proposals for a new PHY for high-rate wireless communications over short distances. But before coffee has even been poured, antagonism clouds what's supposed to be a healthy exercise in objectivity for the common good.

The first sign of discord occurred at the Intel Developer Forum, where Intel Corp. announced that it had formed a coalition around a multiband implementation of ultrawideband with Time Domain, Wisair and General Atomics, and Discrete Time.

Multiband describes the dividing of available broadcast spectrum (3.1GHz to 10.6GHz) into many narrow sub-bands roughly 700MHz wide. That process, supporters said, allows greater spectral agility (permits coexistence), favors a CMOS implementation (lowers cost) and speeds time-to-market. The latter point derives from the ability to start at lower bands quickly, then scale upward as processes improve.

But while the technical attributes might have some merit, at least one critic said the claims to superiority are hogwash. Chris Fisher, VP of marketing at Xtremespectrum Inc., instead backs a wideband approach that covers the frequencies from 3.1Ghz to about 5GHz, and then from 6GHz to 10.6GHz. With last year's Trinity chipset, his company became the only one with an FCC-compliant indoor communications solution on the market. That solution requires the wideband approach.

"What Intel is trying to do is drive this technology in the direction of Wireless USB [480Mbps], which is predominantly a PC-centric wired tech," said Fisher, "and [consumer electronics] guys don't want to be dominated by Intel."

XSI will announce soon that Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector has licensed its technology and will put its weight behind XSI. Under a new strategy, XSI plans to license pieces of its technology to chipmakers and to consumer OEMs with chipmaking capabilities.

Ben Manny, Intel's director of residential communications, called Fisher's "PC-centric" charge wrong, saying, "There is no 'PC vs. CE' " element within Intel.

Manny's position won support with the addition to the coalition of Focus Enhancements and Philips, both of which have a consumer electronics focus. Each will present proposals.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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