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WiMedia directors back MBOA UWB spec

UWB going Intel's way?

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The WiMedia Alliance has given its thumbs-up to the Multiband-OFDM Alliance's rogue ultrawideband MAC and PHY specifications.

Not that such a move, reported by EE Times, is entirely surprising. The WMA's board of directors includes many of the companies behind the MBOA, including Texas Instruments and Intel. The decision to endorse the MBOA MAC and PHY specs. was made at an interim board of directors meeting this past Thursday, the report claims.

WMA's interest is in the creation of ad hoc wireless connections between consumer electronics kit and other devices, and is essentially looking at how physical link protocols like 1394/Firewire can operate over a wireless link.

The MBOA, meanwhile, wants to define the way UWB radios can provide that wireless connection. With the crucial components of those radios - the media access control (MAC) and the physical (PHY) infrastructure - now defined, the WMA can progress with the development of the so-called 'convergence layer', which separates the radio from the protocols that use it, allowing multiple applications to share a common radio.

One such protocol is the Intel-backed Wireless USB, now being developed by the Intel-led Wireless USB Promoter Group. It expects to have a USB 2.0-compatible protocol stack by the end of the year. WiMedia, meanwhile, plans to offer Firewireless by building 1394 on top of the convergence layer.

The WMA announced its decision to worth with the MBOA last February, at Intel Developer Forum. At the same time, the MBOA said it would move on with the MAC and PHY development work outside the IEEE standards definition process in a bid to break the deadlock that has hindered attempts to create an international UWB standard.

Ironically, one of the WMA's founders is Motorola, which backs the alternative UWB specification to the one proposed by the MBOA.

The WMA's decision has yet to be made public, and should perhaps be considered provisional until then. "Decisions made by the WMA board of directors are confidential until approved for release by the WMA," John Barr, director of standards realization at Motorola, wrote and told EE Times, suggesting that approval is not a fait accompli.

It's not hard to imagine a compromise declaration being issued, with the WMA approving the MBOA specs, but allowing for the possibility that it may also choose to back the competing DS-UWB specification. But it seems clear that momentum is building among WMA members for an MBOA-based future. ®

Related stories

UWB group dumps IEEE to speed wireless USB, 1394
Motorola and MBOA still split on UWB
Team targets 802.15.3 for wireless video networks

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