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WiMedia group pushes alternate route for UWB standard

Posted: 12 Dec 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMedia Alliance? IEEE? ultrawideband networking? uwb? Media Access Control?

The WiMedia Alliance has by-passed the IEEE standardization process for ultrawideband (UWB) networking, and its physical and Media Access Control layers have been approved as the basis of a global UWB standard by the European based industry association and standardization body Ecma International.

The Alliance will also propose at the next meeting of the IEEE 802.15.3a task group, scheduled for January 2006 in Hawaii, that the long running, often acrimonious and stalled process for UWB standardization be halted.

It will also propose that members of Ecma International fast track the WiMedia Alliance's multiband-OFDM radio specification as a global standard for UWB used in consumer devices, and will submit the standard to ISO/IEC JTC 1 for fast track approval.

"There have been many attempts to resolve the impasse within the IEEE 802.15.3a task group but the process there has just not been receptive to the will of the market as a whole. The market needs to commit to a speedy resolution and getting this technology out quickly," said Stephen Wood, president of the WiMedia Alliance and a senior executive within Intel's wireless communications group.

Wood was referring to the stalemate between the WiMedia Alliance members' proposal and the competing specification from the Freescale Semiconductors backed Direct Sequence technology.

He said members of WiMedia Alliance and Ecma submitted the WiMedia UWB platform specifications to Ecma in early 2005. These have now been refined and released as ECMA-368, which defines the PHY and MAC layers for a decentralized system, and which employs the unlicensed 3.1GHz to 10.6GHz UWB spectrum and mandates support of at least 53.3, 106.7 and 200Mbit/s data rates; and separately the ECMA-369 standard that specifies the MAC-PHY interface.

Currently, these apply only to U.S., since other countries are still looking at the regulatory and spectrum interference implications of UWB. However, Wood said the Alliance has been in close contact with the European standardization body ETSI to have the proposals approved in Europe, and is working with regulatory bodies in Japan, Korea and China.

He said he expects the global regulatory concerns about UWB to be "stabilized" during Spring 2006.

"Our work with Ecma brings us one step closer to finally establishing a single, viable radio that allows manufacturers to create reliable products with differentiating functionality while giving consumers the choice of product brands," said Wood. "Products are coming this year. No question. And, WiMedia Alliance diligently works every day to make sure that when those products hit the shelves, they can operate legally and, in turn, meet their potential."

Ecma International, (formerly known as the European Computer Manufacturers Association), a non-profit industry association formed in 1961, has been involved in setting standards for many computer and communications related technologies, for instance near field communications and DVD interchange, as well as numerous scripting languages.

"The standards authorized by Ecma are at least as acceptable in the industry as those developed by the IEEE process," noted Roberto Aiello, founder and CTO of Staccato Communications and member of the board of the WiMedia Alliance.

- John Walko
EE Times

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