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Wireless Standards to Coexist in the Home

Several formidable-looking barriers appear, at first glance, to pose serious obstacles to widespread commercial success for Ultrawideband (UWB). But closer examination reveals that few of them will drastically inhibit the market, which a new ABI Research study forecasts will see nearly 300 million UWB shipments in 2011.

According to principal analyst Stuart Carlaw, some observers have pointed to the lack of standardization as a major barrier to growth in the UWB market. "The collapse of the UWB standards process was widely seen as a major faux pas," he notes, "but those inside the industry viewed it as the shackles being removed."

Similarly, many people point to 802.11n as "the UWB-killer." The reality is that they are complementary. UWB's relationship to 802.11n may be compared to USB's relationship to Ethernet. Although that is an oversimplification, says Carlaw, "It is clear that UWB and 802.11n will co-exist and be powerful allies for each other."

None of this is to say that no factors threaten UWB's success. Issues around global spectrum and regulatory approval, along with the need to drive down cost, power consumption and silicon package sizes, are all legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. There is a need to find global regulatory approval and common frequency allocations.

In ABI Research's analysis, this is the real key to the UWB question. All signs are that the band between 7GHz and 8.5GHz will be common across all regions. The European Communications Commission (ECC) has recently announced support for the 6GHz to 8.5GHz band, while Japan looks set to ratify the 7GHz to 10GHz band.

The recent announcement of the Bluetooth SIG's support for the WiMedia Alliance will also assist the drive for global regulatory approval, since the SIG has had significant success in doing this for its 2.4GHz solutions. It's worth noting that global regulatory endorsement is not a precursor to success, and that Bluetooth gained a lot of ground before receiving general regulatory approval.

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