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Ultrawideband gets new standards hearing

An international standards body will try again next week to settle on an industrywide blueprint for UWB, a wireless technology meant to rival Bluetooth.

An international standards body will try again next week to settle on an industrywide blueprint for UWB, or ultrawideband, a wireless technology meant to rival Bluetooth.

The favored proposal heading into the meeting, which starts Monday in Singapore, is backed by Intel and Texas Instruments. The proposal won a majority of the votes cast during the last meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' UWB task group, but it fell short of the necessary 75 percent.

Supporters of the rival proposal, created by newcomer XtremeSpectrum and backed by Motorola, say they've recently gained some ground, however. Electronics maker Samsung recently disclosed that it is adding the Motorola-XtremeSpectrum version of UWB to some of its products, a fact that could help win that version of UWB more votes.

"They are the first commercial consumer-electronics maker to fully embrace UWB," said XtremeSpectrum spokeswoman Diane Orr.

Samsung said in a statement that it has been using UWB in lab tests to send programming to a plasma television. It has yet to divulge which of its consumer-electronics products will get the new wireless technology.

Also this week, in yet another bit of premeeting jockeying, UWB chipmakers Staccato Communications and Wisair said their respective versions of UWB, both based on the Intel and TI-backed proposal, could pass the Federal Communications Commission's tests if submitted to FCC labs now.

UWB creates a short-range wireless connection with a data-transfer rate of up to 480 megabits per second. That's 100 times faster than Bluetooth, a wireless standard now used in cell phones, personal digital assistants, laptops and personal computers.

The winning technology behind the UWB standard, which will bear the name 802.15.3a, will generate $1.39 billion in revenue by 2007, according to projections from Allied Business Intelligence.