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It's not much of a surprise considering past announcements, but today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced at its meeting in Bellevue, Washington that the flavor of ultrawideband wireless called multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM), backed by the WiMedia Alliance industry group, will be integrated into Bluetooth.
The technology will run in unlicensed radio spectrum above 6GHz to avoid concerns of regulatory bodies in Asia and Europe. The group says part of the agreement "will [be to] help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance."
The Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group Charter and UWB Feature Requirements Document (FRD) will commence immediately, but don't expect high data rate for file transfers and better voice communication just yet. It will take at least a year for the Bluetooth SIG to come through with a standard and have working prototypes. Actual products aren't likely to ship before 2008.
ABI Research said in a statement that this decision will have "significant impact, not only upon the Bluetooth playing field, but also the UWB landscape." For Bluetooth, it means the current technology usually found in cell phones and PDAs will eventually be capable of real multimedia transfers. For UWB, it "opens up a vast market for products," according to the research firm, with forecasts showing 1 billion high-speed Bluetooth products shipping by 2010.
ABI says the final decision by Bluetooth SIG "does paint a very bleak picture for Freescale," the big backer of the the UWB Forum and its DS-UWB tech, which is in direct competition with WiMedia and MB-OFDM for the UWB market of the future. Over the last few years, the two groups could not come to an agreement within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards process for a UWB standard called 802.15.3a; in January, the task group was dissolved. WiMedia went on to have its technology released as an international standard by Ecma International (part of the ECMA-368 and ECMA-369 standards).
WiMedia's UWB is also the basis for Certified Wireless USB, a standard from the USB Implementers Forum. WiMedia members Staccato Communications and Alereon have both issued statements supporting the Bluetooth SIG's adoption of the WiMedia MB-OFDM technology.
Last month, major Bluetooth chipmaker CSR also picked WiMedia's version of UWB for future products.
This article was first published on WiFiPlanet.com.