Motorola buys assets of UWB vendor

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Motorola Inc. will apply its resources to driving down the size, cost and power consumption of UWB (ultra-wideband) wireless network chipsets using technology from XtremeSpectrum Inc., the company said Monday following its acquisition of XtremeSpectrum's assets.

UWB, approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year, uses a broad spectrum of different radio frequencies to deliver high bandwidth over a relatively short range. Proponents have been pushing the technology primarily for wireless connections among home entertainment devices. It might also lead to wireless forms of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 and IEEE 1394 interconnects.

An IEEE working group is still working on a standard for the technology. In the group, Motorola and XtremeSpectrum have been advocating the same proposed approach to UWB, called direct-sequence CDMA (code-division multiple access).

Motorola, the Schaumburg, Illinois-based maker of communications equipment, will acquire the intellectual property and employees of privately held XtremeSpectrum, said Omid Tahernia, vice president and director of strategy and business development for Motorola's wireless and mobile systems group. About 50 employees will transfer over to Motorola but will continue to work at what has been XtremeSpectrum's headquarters in Vienna, Virginia. XtremeSpectrum's investors will hold on to the "shell" of the company and its name, Tahernia said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Motorola is a longtime investor in XtremeSpectrum, which was founded in 1998, and has been working with the company on its UWB technology. It acquired the company's assets so it can apply the resources of its semiconductor group to deliver large volumes of the chipsets and drive down the size, cost and power consumption of the technology, Tahernia said.

XtremeSpectrum's second-generation UWB chipset, called Trinity, is now available in sample quantities and scheduled to ship to equipment makers in the first quarter of next year, Tahernia said. It can deliver data rates as high as 100M bps (bits per second) and has a range of 10 meters, according to information on XtremeSpectrum's Web site.

The third generation of its chipset, intended to deliver about 500M bps over a range of about 10 meters, should ship in volume in the second or third quarter of 2005, Tahernia said.

The cost of the solution, now about US$20, should fall below $10 some time in 2005, he said.

Reducing the size and power consumption of UWB chipsets will be critical for achieving market success by getting the technology on small, handheld devices, said Gemma Paulo, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR, in Scottsdale, Arizona. However, the future of XtremeSpectrum's particular technology is hard to gauge because the official standard is still up in the air, she said.

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