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Samsung to team on ultrawideband

The consumer-electronics company pairs with chipmaker Staccato Communications to develop products using ultrawideband, a technology that's 100 times faster than Bluetooth.

Samsung and chipmaker Staccato Communications are scheduled to announce plans Tuesday to develop commercially available products using ultrawideband, a wireless rival to Bluetooth.

The two companies claim the partnership is the "first commercial deal" that involves UWB, which 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 by cell phones, personal digital assistants, laptops and personal computers.

A Samsung representative did not indicate when its UWB products will debut or which of its consumer electronics will get UWB connections. A Staccato representative did not return a call to comment.

The UWB agreement would put Samsung and Staccato at some risk, because the actual UWB standard--a blueprint manufacturers use to ensure that their products work together--has not yet been chosen.

Samsung is part of a Texas Instruments-led group that backs a proposed UWB standard that has already won a majority of votes from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' UWB task group, the body that will choose the standard. However, the TI-favored proposal hasn't yet managed to nail down the 75 percent of votes that's needed in order to become the standard.

Motorola and Xtreme Spectrum back the competing UWB proposal, and both companies want the Federal Communications Commission to rule on whether the technology that's being pushed by the TI-backed group--the MultiBand OFDM Alliance--complies with FCC regulations. The commission has yet to take any action.

The IEEE task group that's choosing the UWB standard is scheduled to meet next month to vote again on the two proposals.

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 made by Allied Business Intelligence.