Get your Ultra Wide Band from Monday
Regulation hot on the heels of products
UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has legalised the use of UWB in the UK from Monday, 13 August.
The announcement comes within weeks of the first UWB devices being certified as conforming to the Wireless USB standard.
The licence exemption means users of UWB won't need a license to operate, assuming it's not fixed to anything outdoors or attached to a car or railway carriage - strangely enough it's okay to attach UWB to a car or carriage as long as it's indoors.
There are power restrictions (pdf) depending on the frequency used, and devices must also ensure "the equipment does not cause or contribute to undue interference to any wireless telegraphy" - which is nicely ambiguous, but reassuring to those who paid real money for spectrum where UWB might now be operating.
By 2010, the hope is to move UWB up beyond 6GHz where there's less chance of interfering with other applications. At that time Ofcom intends to introduce much stricter limits on equipment sold using lower frequencies, in order to encourage migration.
Right now there's not a lot to do with UWB. Wireless USB might remove the need for a printer cable or two, but that's about it. However, it seems likely manufacturers will quickly come up with ways to make use of the available bandwidth now that they're legally allowed to sell devices which do so. ®
And exactly why do we need UWB...
Voshkin: when your mobile phone and WiFi stops working well don't be surprised...
When the compatibility studies for UWB were done with mobile one of the lobbyists for the technology produced a study claiming only 9 devices would be operating simultaneously across the entire of London...it looks like we have at least one person with 9 possible devices within the space of 2 square metres...not exactly unpredictable. I could do with that too to clear up my cables...
Other studies from the same suspects to fix the power level set the minimum separation distance between transmitter and interferee to 50cm. Not sure about you guys but my mobile is about 10cm long, my laptop about 30cm long so I'm not quite sure how this is possible if these devices are going to have UWB attached to them, which is part of the plan. Guess what...I sometimes also put my mobile next to my laptop. Am I wacky or what? Of course the studies assumed an even statistical distribution across an office rather than clustering on a desk...
The problem with UWB is that it's a concept based on loony tunes left wing ideology that we can all share a resource fairly without people being selfish, pushed forward by major multinationals with an IPR stake in the technologies. You find lots of US lawyers talking about how great the "spectrum commons" are and "free spectrum"...these guys clearly just don't have the common sense to look at analogous sectors like for example land which illustrate the true selfish reality of human nature. How much common land is left in the UK or anywhere with an efficient agriculture sector? Virtually none because in practice it is a dumb idea because nobody has an incentive to look after it. Private ownership of land is actually really efficient because people look after it: they can develop technologies like rotating crops to improve the quality, can segment land so that sheep don't eat wheat etc etc. Spectrum is just the same (think frequency planning, segmenting safety critical radar from cellular, avoiding broadcast interference with GPS etc). And the worst thing is that Dillon is right, technology "enthusiasts" will subvert the regulation and increase the power, screwing over their neighbors...and what's the incentive for a device manufacturer to achieve sufficient quality control to comply with power regulation? None because it is the end user who is criminally liable in administrations like the UK, and there are no penalties applicable to manufacturers.
There are literally hundreds of MHz of licence exempt spectrum available for cable replacement: WiFi bands at 2.4GHz and 5GHz come to nearly 1GHz...and the 5GHz band is not very widely used. UWB enables precisely NO new applications. You wouldn't believe some of the lobbying for UWB a few years back claiming it would empower wireless mice, printers and video transmission...these applications are perfectly achievable with existing tech and spectrum bands without any risk to other technologies. However the UWB lobbyists probably don't own a patent portfolio to monopolise those techs...
So what's going to be the end result if the uptake is high? There's a risk of reduced capacity cellular networks...which means more towers and more people complaining of dead spots which just happen to be in their office near their desk...
Sorry for the rant. I'm just an engineer who gets angry when dumb stuff happens...particularly when there are technologists who argue for new whizz bang technology without any understanding of what will happen in the real world and without realising that their fantastic new technology is simply being driven by a multinational corporate IPR agenda and lobbying.
From your comments, I presume that you have everything connected up to the "network printer sharing thingies". We have more than one network printer for 10 people who do approx.20-40 (text and/or image) prints per day each. The difference is that the printers run off a 386 box salvaged from the scrap heap, force-fed with Linux and made to function as a print server/spooler on the LAN.
This liberated 10 printer cables and 10 power cables for the unneeded printers and a LOT of desk real estate which get promptly colonised by plush toys, boxes of chocolate biscuits, "must have" executive toys, etc.; the network cable is there anyway for other purposes.
What happend to Network over mains?
Why bother with a wireless link when my network printer is already connected to the same (power)network as my PC?
Or is this just another way to withhold useful technology so they can sell it to us again later?
The only use for wireless usb is so I dont have to get my phone out of my pocket, but then dont I have bluetooth for that?