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UWB tech groups combine forces

The MBOA ♥ the WiMedia Alliance. True.

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IDF Spring 05 Ultrawideband (UWB) industry groups the WiMedia Alliance (WMA) and the Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA) are to merge, the better to drive the adoption of their shared viewpoint on how UWB connectivity should be delivered.

The WMA was formed in September 2002 to promote the development of small-area networks for video transmission between devices. It always looked to the IEEE's 802.1.3 specification as a basis for that, and as the spec. shifted from technologies like Bluetooth to UWB, the WMA found itself in alignment with the MBOA, one of the groups submitting a UWB technology for IEEE approval.

A year ago, the MBOA decided to bypass the IEEE, fed up with what its members called a "deadlock" in the standard's ratification process caused by the IEEE's voting policy. With a similar level of support building up behind a rival UWB proposal touted by Motorola, the MBOA didn't believe either technology was going to become a standard if left to the IEEE.

So it sidestepped the process, emboldened by not only the WMA's support but also that of the two groups developing wireless versions of Firewire and USB, the 1394 Trade Association and the Wireless USB Promoter Group.

We'll finish our spec, the MBOA effectively said, get official versions of USB and Firewire running top, and by sheer momentum we'll get industry and, eventually, the IEEE on our side.

"The intention is definitely to go back to IEEE once we complete the standard," said Yoram Solomon, of Alliance member Texas Instruments, at the time.

The MBOA completed its PHY physical layer specification last November, after the publication of an inital spec in May.

The WMA, meanwhile, has been working on the convergence layer code that allows protocols like UPnP, IP, USB and Firewire to operated on top of the MBOA's core radio. Since both elements - convergence layer and PHY - are two sides of the same coin, there have always been close ties between MBOA and WMA.

And now they're one and the same, under the WMA name. Together they will continue to finalise their MAC specification - it's due to be finished by June - and co-operate with the groups building wireless versions of wired protocols on top of their technology.

"The two organisations have been aggressively supporting the same technology, regulatory and marketing goals for a while now," said former WMA president Glyn Roberts. "It just makes sense to formally combine the groups."

The combined organisation will be headed by Intel's Stephen Wood. The chip giant has long been an MBOA supporter and Wireless USB supporter. Commercial development of UWB standards-based products from a variety of manufacturers are expected late 2005 to early 2006, it said. ®

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