Microwave Journal

Despite Lack of Standard, UWB Consumer Products to Hit Retail in 2005

November 14, 2004

Being the wireless technology that can deliver the bandwidth and QoS that many consumer electronics companies have been looking for, Ultra-wideband (UWB) presents attractive opportunities, primarily for fast video transfer between peripheral devices, such as digital camcorders, TVs and PCs, and between set top boxes and TV monitors. In-Stat/MDR projects that, with the technology’s perceived ability to fill the high bandwidth gap left by Wi-Fi in the home networking space, UWB node/chipset shipments will experience an emerging market compound annual growth rate of over 400 percent from 2005 to 2008.

UWB supporters have been working toward a standard and commercial solutions since the FCC allowed its use in February 2002. Even so, the high tech market research firm believes that UWB-based products will only start to roll out in 2005, with a small level of shipments based on proprietary chipsets from Freescale and General Atomics. At present, standards issues are being played out in a political arena involving the IEEE, Freescale, MBOA and the WiMedia Alliance. Faced with constant standard-setting delays, MBOA members and Freescale are not waiting for these issues to be resolved, as the stakes are too high. Rather than wait for standards to be approved by the IEEE, both plan to move forward with product rollouts irrespective of the standards’ disputes. UWB proponents have also made headway toward providing UWB as the PHY and MAC for the upcoming wireless USB specification, which is expected to help drive UWB into more end products.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

• As UWB rolls out, it faces no serious competing technologies, since alternatives only offer slower ways of accomplishing data transfers, with speeds that are 1 to 10 percent of a 480 Mbps UWB solution. There is really no wireless technology, which is currently available and standardized, that offers robust multimedia transport of multiple digital video streams.

• The initial stage of UWB implementations will be primarily focused on point-to-point connections between devices, with point-to-multipoint following.

• As UWB chipsets become more integrated, costs fall, and a standard is solidified, UWB becomes very attractive for use with wireless USB to provide a bridge between PCs and consumer electronics devices.

The report, “Ultra-Wideband: Coming With or Without a Standard,” includes technology, standards, organizations, comparisons to other technologies, vendor profiles, forecasts by specific application/end product, chipset price and revenue for 2004-2008.