Intel vs Motorola
This time over ultra-wide band wireless
The authorities are positive: the ITU will, this week, plump for the Motorola-endorsed ultra-wide band (UWB) technology. Meanwhile, the IEEE, which is also examining this direct-sequence CDMA UWB proposal in the IEEE 802.15.3a study group, is said to favour the Intel-sponsored MultiBand OFDM Alliance (MBOA) with Texas Instruments. Is it Europe vs America, yet again?
The race for control of UWB is, effectively, the bid to take over from Bluetooth. Both Bluetooth (already working) and UWB (still laboratory-based) do personal area networks.
The difference is simple: Bluetooth is never going much faster than a megabit per second; UWB promises half a gigabit per second... one day. Perhaps.
The politics of the battle are, however, not as simple as the normal trans-Atlantic battle (typified by the GSM vs CDMA phone fiasco, or the 802.11a vs HiPerLan farce). In this case, Nokia is said to be on the Intel side.
But politics there are. "Steve Turner, UWB business development manager at Texas Instruments Inc. - a core member of the MBOA - says the stalemate is due to delaying tactics that are now causing general annoyance throughout the industry," wrote Unstrung this week. He was pointing the finger at the Motorola initiative.
Now, Motorola has added more weight to its alternative standard proposal by taking over the UWB assets of a company it has been investing in - Xtreme Spectrum - which has a second-generation UWB chipset, called Trinity, available in sample quantities. This version can "only" reach 100 megabits per second; the third generation chip set is expected in 2005, at 500 megabits.
Can the world accommodate one IEEE standard and one ITU standard? Clearly, yes; with a range of only about 20-30 feet, interference can be limited by purchasing only the "right version" for the locality (typically, your equipment in your pockets).
But in marketing terms, this dispute could be a disaster, with the IEEE and ITU poised to endorse products which will split the market. Compatibility between the two looks impossible.
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