Home UWB Chipset Moves Ahead In Twin Developments

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Motorola spinoff Freescale Semiconductor said it is ready to begin shipping the industry’s first wireless ultrawideband (UWB) chipset, following the chipset’s certification by the FCC.

Freescale said the chipset will appear initially in flat-panel displays, DVRs and set-top boxes to eliminate cable connections, as early as the holiday season.

The chipset’s 110Mbps data rate can simultaneously distribute three separate high-definition video streams.

In a separate UWB development, UWB’s chipset developer Pulse Link, of Carlsbad, Calif., demonstrated high-speed UWB transmission over wireless, coaxial cable and power lines within the home during Cable Labs’ summer conference. The company wants to include its technology in cable set-top boxes to network homes and in cable operators’ physical plants to expand cable-system capacity.

At Freescale, UWB’s operations director Martin Rofheart said the company is “now focused on delivering UWB product to our consumer electronics customers so their products will be able to reach the U.S. market as early as the holiday season.” In 2005, he said, he expects availability of UWB-equipped portable products such as portable hard drives and digital cameras.

Motorola’s direct sequence UWB (DS UWB) approach is incompatible with a competing standard developed by Texas Instruments, but both standards are based on IEEE’s 802.15.3a standard. The IEEE standard requires low power consumption, security, quality of service for audio and video streaming, and a bit rate of at least 110Mbps at 10 meters and 200Mbps at four meters. IEEE also requires coexistence with Bluetooth, cordless phones and various 802.11 wireless-network standards.

The FCC requires UWB operation in the 3.1GHz and 10.6GHz bands and mandates low power-output levels to protect existing licensed-spectrum applications, including cellular systems and GPS.

For cable operators, a set-top box incorporating Pulse Link’s proprietary technology would function as a home gateway to deliver cable-company content and services to consumer electronic devices throughout the home simultaneously through three media: a home’s electrical wiring, through existing in-home coax cable and via wireless RF.

The trimode capability would give consumers more choices in placing video and PC components in different rooms and in different parts of a room without running new coaxial cable, Watkins said.

Incorporated as a low-cost head-end upgrade to a cable-operator’s network, the technology would expand cable-network downstream capacity by 1Gbps, representing anywhere from a 30 percent to 100 percent capacity increase, depending on the network, said president Bruce Watkins. A 40 times to 50 times increase in upstream capacity from the home would enable more operators to affordably add “true video-on-demand,” interactive television, gaming, more HDTV channels, VoIP telephony and higher bandwidth for web browsing, Pulse Link said. It would also enable transmission of two-way home-to-home high-quality video, the company contended.

Inside the home, a Pulse Link set-top could send multiple streams of digital video and data at a data rate of up to 20Mbps anywhere within a 4,000-square-foot house, said Watkins. In a product cluster, speed goes to 120Mbps when components are plugged into one another’s electrical outlets or into a common power strip. Wireless delivers data rates of 1.3Gbps at two to three meters, 330Mbps at about 30 meters and about 2Mbps at 100 meters. Over coaxial cable, Pulse Link would add 2Gbps more digital video and data to existing bandwidth, Watkins said.


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