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"Ultrawideband" wireless inches closer to market

Start-up Time Domain, which is developing "ultrawideband" technology for wireless data use, says it is hiring LinCom Wireless to help transform its high-speed technology.

A new high-speed wireless data technology has taken a few steps closer to the marketplace.see story: FCC opens door for new wireless technology

Start-up Time Domain, which is developing "ultrawideband" technology for wireless data use, said today it has hired Titan subsidiary LinCom Wireless to help transform its high-speed technology into a working commercial system.

Time Domain has been one of the leaders in developing the basic technology behind ultrawideband. But that company's expertise is in creating the microchips that allow the technology to function, rather than in building wireless communications systems.

"This definitely helps us move more quickly from chipset to commercial products," said Peggy Sammon, a senior vice president for strategic planning at Time Domain.

Meta Group says the wireless-communications world is locked into a gold rush to develop commercially practical solutions to increase spectrum capacities and overall speed.

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The Alabama-based company is still in the early stages of the development of its technology, but it has attracted strong interest and investments from the likes of Sony, Qwest Communications International, Siemens and WorldCom.

Ultrawideband, which uses the wireless spectrum more efficiently than does ordinary wireless communications, has been spotlighted by Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard as one possible way of decreasing pressure on the portion of the airwaves dedicated to voice and data communications.

The basic technology can be used for a variety of science fiction-like uses, ranging from a precise positioning system to creating a radar that can see through walls. But much of the interest in recent months has been around its promise for high-speed data transmission applications.

Time Domain has long said its technology would likely create a super-fast wireless home networking system before it would compete with ordinary mobile phone systems. But the intense interest in finding ways to expand the capabilities of mobile phones led US West--now Qwest--to invest in the company earlier this year.

The LinCom project will be looking at home networking and large-scale applications.

Time Domain today also opened a new office in Washington, D.C., in part to help keep tabs on a regulatory process that will determine the future of the company.

Ultrawideband, because it uses small pieces of the wireless spectrum ordinarily reserved for public safety and air traffic control applications, is still illegal to use commercially in the United States.

The FCC is moving toward legalizing the technology, however. A comment period on regulators' proposal will close Oct. 30.