[opendtv] UWB gets 'black eye' review; Freescale pulls plug?

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 11:24:43 -0500

Speak of the devil ...


UWB gets 'black eye' review; Freescale pulls plug?

Patrick Mannion
(12/06/2006 4:12 PM EST)
URL: http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196602148

A review of an ultrawideband-based Belkin Cable Free USB Hub that's
supposed to go on the market in mid December doesn't auger well for the
multiband-OFDM version of UWB being pushed by the WiMedia Alliance.

It also indicates that Belkin may have erred by rushing to a
non-WiMedia-compliant Wisair chipset after its initial UWB chip vendor,
Freescale, quietly pulled the plug on its direct-sequence UWB
development. WiMedia and Freescale fought to a stalemate within the IEEE
802.15.3a task group over which version of UWB would be best. The task
group was finally scratched in January this year.

The review, by Ryan Block at www.engadget.com, starts by saying, "The
hub is small, the dongle is massive, and the speed and range aren't
quite what they're cracked up to be." Though the box stated rates of 480
Mbits/s and distances of up to 30 feet, Block wasn't able to get a
connection until moving within a range of a few feet, and even the rates
didn't exceed 6.35 Mbits/s.

"In other words, you might use this for your printer and small doc
sharing, but you definitely won't want to attach your Zune / iPod /
Sansa to this thing. Still, is wireless USB and the ability to be the
first kid on your street with an Ultrawideband something worth $200 to

Belkin and Freescale had, until recently, been demonstrating UWB rates
of up to 110 Mbits/s. However, after Martin Rofheart, Freescale's
director of UWB operations, left the group and John McCorkle, the
scientist and engineer behind Freescale's DS-UWB efforts moved over to
focus on cellular development, it became clear that Freescale was losing
the faith. Pulling out of the Belkin deal only shores up that

Freescale's official comment is: "We don't have any announcements
related to UWB at this time, we believe UWB will continue to be explored
as a high speed, PAN wireless technology and there are many more
applications that have yet to be defined. Over the next few years, we
will begin to see the impact of UWB as consumer products emerge and
consumers using the technology for a variety of multimedia, PC and
infotainment applications.

As for when consumer devices will be on the market, Freescale can not
comment on behalf of those companies."

For some observers, the poor performance of the Belkin system is a
'black eye' for UWB that need not have happened if Freescale had stuck
it out and kept its partnership with Belkin. It's also possibly a black
eye for MB-OFDM specifically, as the Wisair chipset is based on that UWB

However, according to Alun Roberts, vice president of marketing at
WiQuest Communications (Allen, TX), the review bears little relation to
WiMedia's efforts. "This particular Wisair chip set is their own
implementation and is not WiMedia compliant and is not interoperable
with any other chip set based on WiMedia," he said. WiQuest is working
with Belkin to supply the company with WiMedia-compliant chips, possibly
for demos at CES 2007.

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