AMSTERDAM A Philips Semiconductor executive told the Wireless Connectivity Conference here on Thursday (June 10) to hold the line on new wireless standards.
"Stop proliferating new standards and technologies that are unnecessary," said Paul Marino, vice president and general manager of business line connectivity. He complained that many in the wireless industry tend to focus on "inventing new things" rather than "solving problems that really matter to consumers."
When the wireless industry faces interoperability problems or glitches in applications, he said it often jumps to the conclusion that another standard is needed. "We have to stop doing that," Marino said.
Saying "we are [our own] worst enemy," Marino added that some companies are trying to profit from inventing new standards and variants to specs. For instance, he said, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has defined new modes and profiles that may and may not have been needed. Some say that has made it much harder for the Bluetooth community to maintain interoperability.
Citing the example of Bluetooth auto applications, Marino said. "It's ridiculous that we haven't even fixed the phone book access problem in a car."
A deadlock within the Bluetooth SIG on a standardized phone book synchronization method between a car kit and a mobile handset has made it difficult for car makers to ensure that mobile handset users can access phone books or SIM cards inside a handset using Bluetooth for hands-free calls.
Instead of solving real problems, some in the SIG are talking about "high data rate" Bluetooth, Marino charged. "Who cares about that?" What customers need is a much more cost-effective device that works and interoperates, he added.
Consumer experience with Wi-Fi is another example the industry should learn from. Although it took the wireless industry more than ten years to get to this point, Marino said that IEEE 802.11 "is really easy to use." The standard was born out of a solid standard's body, backed by a strong Wi-Fi alliance.
Elswhere at the conference, Ericsson Technology Platform again pitched the "Bluetooth Lite" concept in an attempt to push Bluetooth further into industrial applications such as lighting. Marino remained noncommittal toward the Ericsson proposal. "Will it work? Yes. But is it worth it? Maybe."
Philips Semiconductors halted its own development of 802.15.4 chips the physical layer for ZigBee because it needed to streamline its own business. However, Philips Lighting, a much larger group within Philips, remains a key member of ZigBee Alliance. Philips Semiconductors' Marino said the ZigBee has its merits.
The chip maker is also targeting the emerging ultrawideband (UWB) technology market. Philips is a member of the Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA) and has co-authored the MBOA MAC proposal together with Sony and Alereon.
Marino said he is hopeful that a variety of network technologies, including USB, Bluetooth and 1394 can use UWB radio by adding an adaptation layer on top of UWB's transport layer. This allows companies with a large installed base of software for Bluetooth or USB to salvage that technology. "Re-doing the whole thing would be unacceptable," said Marino.
The deep division currently created between MBOA and DS [direct-sequence] UWB groups, however, could damage UWB's future, he said. "I am extremely concerned."