March 16, 2004
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. -- The possibility of obtaining consensus on a single Ultrawideband (UWB) standard for Wireless Personal Area Networks(WPAN) has disappeared, finds ABI Research. There are two standards on the table, one proposed by Motorola and a couple others, and the other proposed by nearly all the remaining industry heavyweights, including Intel, Texas Instruments, Philips, Microsoft, Fujitsu, NEC, Hewlett Packard, Infineon, and STMicroelectronics.
This is not the first time a company singularly attempted to drive a technology against massive opposition. In the 1990s Qualcomm successfully achieved this with CDMA for digital cellular. Qualcomm won that battle and it is noteworthy to examine three significant parallels that may be drawn between these efforts:
Qualcomm’s pioneers were not proposing an unknown or exotic technology -- CDMA had been used by the military for close to forty years;
The company relentlessly played up a few key benefits of CDMA over and over again until finally even the operators took notice; and
Qualcomm did not have to worry about interoperating with systems other than their own.
Will the UWB camp with Motorola at its helm be able to pull off a similar feat? They have the advantage that the technology on which their standard is based, DSSS (direct sequence spread spectrum), is a well-understood technology and has been used in other wireless areas for many years.
Theyhave constantly been claiming a couple of benefits, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interference compliance under any and all interpretations, and a significant time-to-market advantage over the competition . But what about the last point: will the UWB solution for a WPAN have to interoperate with all other WPAN networks?
It is one thing to win the standards battle, but it is another thing to win the customer war. Other questions remain: Would an OEM choose the DSSS UWB solution even at the expense of losing interoperability? Is it possible that an OEM may decide to differentiate their product by offering a 100 Mbit multimedia data rate before any of their competition by using the DSSS UWB?
These questions and more are answered in ABI Research’s report,“Ultrawideband: Standards, Technology, OEM Strategy, and Markets & Applications Spaces,” which details OEM strategy, technology comparisons and ABI Research’s predictions for the next few months regarding the two factions’ market moves, engineering design challenges, the difficulties on the road to convergence, and the long-term vision of the FCC. The report also examines the global trends in shipments, ASPs, and revenues in 18 different end-use markets, and profiles some of the key players in these spaces.
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