Ofcom enacts Ultrawide Band
To a thunderous round of indifference
UK regulator Ofcom has set out the regulations under which Ultrawide Band radio connections can be used, despite the fact that no-one seems very interested in deploying UWB right now.
Ofcom's considered response is in stark contrast to the initial legalisation, which was rushed through against the fear of grey imports flooding into Europe from America and making regulation impossible. This time we have sensibly structured caps on transmitting power and permitted usage, with the only real debate being about what constitutes a train and if Jersey is worthy of a footnote.
Once the FCC approved the use of UWB the assumption was that European consumers, desperate for the 480Mb/sec claimed data rates, would rush to order equipment from the USA. But the hub-and-client structure of Wireless USB - the first available implementation of UWB - discouraged many and the rest were put off by a range measured in centimetres.
The Bluetooth SIG has endorsed the WiMedia implementation of UWB, but only above 6GHz and therefore technically tricky for a year or two until the technology improves. A few people are using Wireless USB for specific applications, where it's probably very useful, but for the rest of us a USB cable works fine and delivers power too.
UWB techniques can also be used to detect pipes and suchlike in walls, but there's not been such a rush to develop devices supporting that application as the big money was supposed to be in connecting computers together.
But when the devices do come and we find ourselves desperate to transmit huge files wirelessly over very short distances - or map the insides of our walls - then we'll be legally allowed to do so. As long as we're indoors, or the kit is portable and isn't attached to any permanent structure out of doors, or we're in a train, or on a tram. That last detail is clarified in the new regulations (pdf), along with the addition of a footnote stating explicitly that the new rules extend to Jersey and the Isle of Man, all of which will come into force on October 15th. ®
I gleefully unwrapped my first UltraWideBand USB 4 port hub and UWB USB access stick, plugged them in at opposite sides of the lab, and 'lo, they worked! I transferred a big movie in minutes. So then fired up the newish Tektronix real-time-spectrum-analyser, waved a probe in the air near the UWB stuff. ~Not a sniff of RF signal! LNA amp on the vivaldi antenna, still nothing. remove 1.25 metre Satellite dish from roof, mount Sat dish upside down in lab laser-pointed at the UWB hub, added 10dB gain wideband vivaldi antenna at feedpoint, 1dB noise figure LNA and, yes started to see the data. Ultrawideband is really a low probability of intercept, low probability of detection signal!
now we've tested devices from Belkin, Iogear, Olidata, Wisair etcetera & looked at the detect and avoid (interference) mechanisms, established a reasonable spectrum mask for in-car use, performed conducted and OTA tests
I think a lot of the hardware is still in alpha or early beta phases. I can't get any of the UWB devices to stream a webcam. It has a great potential for house/office informatics wiring replacement, ultra safe low power, high data rate and very secure.
it's definitely a GO, just as you say Bill, When!!??
people want real 1GigE+ wireless throughput not crumby UWB half gig at best
people want real 1GigE+ wireless throughput to a range of at least 100 foot plus,not some crumby UWB half gig at best for a VERY limited range, and probably a lot less in real generic conditions.....
we want simple plug in and go WWAN/WLAN tunneled end to end auto secure Mesh, and REAL Wireless 'Bonding; so we can simply go out and buy several units plug them in and make our current thin pipes a LOT FATTER as time passes and finances allow...
when if ever are we going to get this basic need and want from the OEM's, the regulators have NO CLUE and are killing real innovation, NOT encuraging it with tax breaks for maximising the limited airwaves in community WWAN/WLAN settings...