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Ultrawideband Standards Committee Disbanding

After three years of work, the IEEE committee charged with the UWB standard is calling it quits because it couldn't achieve 75% consensus on two competing proposals.

Patrick Mannion

January 18, 2006

2 Min Read

MANHASSET, N.Y. — As expected, the IEEE 802.15.3a ultrawideband task group voted this week to disband, ending three years of bitter debate — and expensive travel.

Formed to define a standard for short-range wireless communications at up to 480 Mbits/s, the group has never been able to achieve a 75-percent consensus on two competing proposals: direct sequence UWB proposed by Freescale or multiband OFDM proposed by the WiMedia Alliance. The latter was led by Intel, Staccato, Wisair, Alereon and a host of consumer companies.

In voting Tuesday (Jan. 17) at the IEEE 802 meeting in Hawaii, the task group managed a 94.7 percent majority in favor of disbanding, with only four no votes and 10 abstentions. The motion was then forwarded to the 802.15.3 Working Group for a vote, where it was unanimously approved.

"Personally, it was nice to finally see agreement on both sides," said Jim Lansford, chair of the task group, but commenting in his role as CTO of Alereon (Austin, Texas). "The time to compromise was two years ago, and we missed that chance and we've just been butting heads since then."

While some participants characterized the process as a waste of time and travel budgets, Lansford disagreed. "The IEEE process really improved both proposals," he said. "We added improvements to the WiMedia specification because of the vetting process."

With the group disbanded, the race is on to see who will get market traction. While Freescale was demonstrating products at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Lansford was dismissive. "The race is over," he said. "We [WiMedia] showed multiple silicon sources at CES, versus a proprietary solution," referring to Freescale's status as the only silicon source for its DS-UWB technology.

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