The chair of the IEEE's standards group for super-fast ultra-wide band radio (UWB) radio has resigned, after three years trying to knock the opposing sides' heads together.

Bob Heile, who also chairs the IEEE's overall networking standards effort, the 802 working group, has handed over the 802.15.3a task group to two two acting co-chairs, from the opposing UWB standards efforts, WiMedia and Freescale. "This may be a catalyst to more positive action," said Heile. "I've got to be optimistic."

The group - which has been at loggerheads for three years - next meets in San Francisco in 11 to 13 July. Heile hopes by resigning now, to give the group enough time come up with ideas to move forward.

The two temporary co-chairs are Jim Lansford, chief technical officer of Alereon and Gregg Rasor of Freescale. "Maybe the best way will be to continue with co-chairs," said Heile. "People worry about one side having an advantage."

Heile said his dual role as chair of the UWB task group and the IEEE's overall networking standards work was difficult: in the event of difficulties he had to "report to himself", he told EE Times. The co-chairs may be able to work most issues out, and refer them up to him if necessary: "I am very committed to continue the process of working to get this thing done."

It also gives him more time to spend on Zigbee, the low-speed short-range sensor network standard, which is arriving with no standards war. A Zigbee open house last week saw the news that there will be seven Zigbee compliant platforms by the end of summer, and the Zigbee standard will be published this week, said Heile: "More and more companies are coming out of the woodwork."

In the long term, he believes a UWB standard is inevitable, whether it comes from the IEEE task group, or is imposed on them by the market. "We must have a standard," he said. "The technologies are moving into the market regardless - so if this thing takes too long, the marketplace would start choosing."

"Token Ring and Ethernet both accomplished the same thing [and are IEEE standards]," he said. "They both went to market and Token Ring expired. There are lots of examples like this, and [UWB] could be a similar category."

In fact, as Heile has warned before, UWB may face a greater danger from regulatory red tape - it needs worldwide agreement on the restrictions needed to protect other wireless communications from UWB.

But Heile is right in looking to the market. The group may have two chairs now, but when the music stops, one will be pulled away.