The UWB space just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Very few companies have responded to our call a couple of weeks ago to participate in testing UWB systems and chips with reference designs.
This, despite the fact that 13 chip sets that have met WiMedia Alliance specifications.
Come to think of it, seven WiMedia based products were announced in January at CES-2007. As far as I can tell, they haven't been released.
But then again, it's been a bit of a rocky road from the beginning.
Wireless UWB first hit the news big time a few years back in a very unfortunate way.
Squabbling within the working group assigned to create IEEE standard erupted into outright shenanigans (shall we say "creative" voting tactics?).
The UWB ratification wars ended in a deadlock with neither side being able to pull together a 75% majority. The working group was dissolved.
(See at Ultrawideband group may disband .)
Contenders went their separate ways. By most accounts, the "winner" was the WiMedia Alliance, which consists of a cavalcade of semiconductor and electronics stars.
With marquee names like Intel, Nokia, Samsung, TI and HP on the roster, most of us just sat back and waited for the so-called Certified Wireless USB chips to roll.
(A wireless replacement for USB was considered a good starting point for UWB technology. But some companies, such as T-Zero, went for the big enchilada: Video over UWB.)
Many of us thought UWB's hard times were over and that Certified Wireless USB would be the next big thing in networking.
It didn't quite work out that way. Suffice it to say that the top transfer rates of 30 Mbits/s measured in the initial product (January 2007) were significantly less than the 480 Mbits/s at 30 feet that was common currency among the marketing folks at the time.
You can read the details Under the Hood: Inside the first commercial UWB hub .
Every technology has some kinks it has to work out. So we gave CWUSB a pass. Now, more than 10 months have passed and the holiday buying season will soon be upon us.
So I was delighted when Fanny Mlinarsky, a top-notch wireless test engineer and consultant, contacted me about a UWB test plan she was preparing. Pulse-Link was the sole sponsor at the time but both Fannie and I thought others would join in.
Boy, were we mistaken. Although some companies are still deliberating, many have sent their regrets that they wish not to be included.
Granted, the initial test plan focused on video transport (Pulse-Link's specialty) but Fanny was (and is) more than happy to amend the test plan to include CWUSB in virtually any way the CWUSB camp wants to cut it.
The resounding silence in response to the offer got us both to thinking. Have they not made as much progress as we were expecting?
Here are a couple of preliminary data points.
On September 27, 2007, the web site SmallNetBuilder published the results of its test of an IOGear Wireless USB hub and adapter. In that test, the wireless link was consistently about 18 Mbits/s. The complete article is available at IOGEAR Wireless USB Hub and Adapter Review: Deja Vu all over again .
Searching the web for other clues, we came across a Wireless USB product on Gefen's site. We thought we were on to something that we might put on the test bed. But it turns out Gefen's product is based on Wi-Fi technology, not UWB.
Gefen was one of the companies to pre-announce a UWB-based product back in January.
Thisplus early results of Fanny's testing of CWUSB systems in the marketmakes us wonder if WiMedia isn't still waiting for the next big technology breakthrough.
The proof is in the pudding, of course, and we're still hoping that at least some of the UWB companies step up to the challenge.