SAN JOSE, Calif. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has shelved any plans to use the ultrawideband technology it acquired from the WiMedia Alliance when that group decided in March it would fold. In its place, the Bluetooth group is conducting due diligence on 60 GHz technology as a possible transport for a future high-rate Bluetooth.
The decision pounds another nail into the coffin for standard ultrawideband (UWB) wireless technology, once seen as the leading path to high data rate wireless links. The move signals rising interest in 60 GHz nets, as well as concerns that technology could face the same fate as UWB.
The Bluetooth group asked stakeholders of the WiMedia technology to make their technology available on the same royalty-free basis as Bluetooth. The goal was to enable the Bluetooth organization to certify and license UWB systems in the same way it currently handles Bluetooth.
"Some WiMedia members weren't amenable to that," said Mike Foley, chairman of the Bluetooth SIG.
The former WiMedia members "can charge royalties in a market of zero units, so good luck to them," Foley said. "It's something of a poor development for the industry, but that's where we are at," he added.
Foley formally announced the situation to SIG members in a regular group newsletter sent this week.
"The Bluetooth SIG can now conclude that since the response for having these [WiMedia IP] agreements signed has not been sufficient, the Bluetooth SIG will not pursue this further at the present time," the newsletter said.
A spokesman for UWB startup Alereon said the situation was more complex than Foley suggested, given the WiMedia Alliance had about 350 members at its peak.
"We cannot change this [IP] policy without the signature of every single WiMedia member that has possibly contributed to the original specification," the Alereon spokesman said. "As you can imagine given the contributors—[including] Intel, TI, Philips, Kodak, Nokia and Microsoft just to name a few--getting them to sign a legal document to change an IP policy is just not feasible," he said.
"They also had the option to take the standard version of the spec from ECMA and run with it, but again they decided not to," he added.
For its part, Alereon abstained from the vote on IP conditions for WiMedia under the Bluetooth group.