Ultra-Wideband Communications: Where Does It Fit?

Farpoint Group |  Mobile & Wireless

This is an edited transcript of a webcast program. For a richer experience, watch the webcast.

Analyst: Craig Mathias, Farpoint Group

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Takeaway: Ultra wideband will have very little noticeable impact on the enterprise in the near term. 802.11b and a and g, the wireless LAN standards, are going to continue to gain traction.

Ultra wideband communication sounds exotic, doesn't it? Well I think you will be surprised at how simple it really is. I'm Craig Mathias with Farpoint Group and welcome to the analyst briefing on ultra wideband.

Well, what's so wide about ultra wideband? Actually, it is the amount of radio spectrum that is involved in sending an ultra-wideband transmission. Most radio carriers, the kind you might find in cell phones and wireless LANs, consume only a relatively small amount of bandwidth, maybe a few megahertz (MHz) - CDMA: 1.25 MHz of bandwidth;

Wideband CMDA, which is used in 3G cellular: only 5 MHz of bandwidth. Ultra wideband, on the other hand, can use GHz worth of bandwidth, many hundreds to thousands of times more. Well why would anybody want to do something like that when radio spectrum is so precious?

The answer is that wider signals are immune to interference and other radio artifacts like noise, for example. You can send an ultra-wideband signal out and be relatively assured that it is going to reach the other end of the connection without a great deal of corruption and without the need to retransmit an awful lot.

It is allowed in this country now, under FCC rules, but at very low power and also only in a very small number of frequencies, between 3.1 and 10.6 GHz. Nonetheless, that is a lot of spectrum. So you might think ultra wideband also means ultra broadband and you are partially right in thinking that. We will come back to that in just a moment.

In fact, one of the things you can do with ultra wideband is implement communications and networking type technologies. It is possible to do even with the restrictive power that we have today what we might call room area networks, a form of personal area network but offering very high throughput.

And indeed, the IEEE 802.15.3a committee is presently looking into standardizing ultra wideband for use in very high performance systems. In fact, implementations with up to 480 Mbps of throughput have been described in the literature and may, in fact, become part of that standard.

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