Remember Don Meredith? He was on the original team of Monday Night Football commentators, together with Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Fran Tarkenton (and before that, a Dallas Cowboys quarterback in the 1960s). At the end of lopsided games, with his heavy Texas drawl, he would begin to sing: "Turn out the lights, the party's over." Meredith may well be in Hawaii now, singing that song to the IEEE 802.15.3a task group on UWB. It appears that after three years of agony, the group will agree to disband itself. This will be the only thing on which it could agree: Since it was formed in 2002, the group has been riven by a bitter debate over the UWB standard. At the beginning there were many proposals for the specifications of the 480 Mbps short-range technology, but eventually the number of proposals was reduced to two: Freescale Semiconductor's direct-sequence UWB and the WiMedia Alliance's multiband orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) alternative (supported by TI, Intel, Staccato Communications, Wisair, and others). Since mid-2003, the battle between the two groups resembles the trench warfare of WWI: Accusations and charges lobbed in every direction, but no movement. Neither side has been able to gain the required 75 percent majority needed for confirmation, with each side going over the 50 percent, then falling behind, only to climb back again. While the stalemate continued, Pulse-Link came along and introduced its own form of UWB, based on Common Signaling Mode, which allows various forms of UWB to coexist. The WiMedia Alliance was adamant, insisting on a single UWB implementation. Now the market will decide, as it decided years ago between Beta and VHS.
For more on the UWB working group
-see Patrick Mannion's Commsdesigns report