A public demonstration of ultra wide-band (UWB) communications has suggested that it may have use beyond its super-Bluetooth cable-replacement role. UWB specialist Pulse-Link achieved 125Mbit/s communication over a distance of 20m, which makes it comparable with 802.11a and 802.11g.

The test also took the stations 50m apart and still handled full-motion video and Internet browsing. But the real point at issue was to prove it could do all this and still satisfy the stringent requirements of US regulator, the FCC, that it should emit no more power than the static that leaks out of a CD player.

The fact that the prototype succeeded means that UWB really does have the potential to be a wireless LAN technology, says Pulse-Link, who used the demonstration to "introduce the WLAN platform to the UWB industry", and "challenge the widely-held belief that UWB is only capable of achieving a ten-meter transmission range under the current FCC rules".

"There is nothing in the FCC rules on UWB, or physics, that limits UWB to a ten-meter range," said the Pulse-Link release. The demonstration was done in a space where Wi-Fi, GPS, cellphone and Bluetooth devices were operating and there was no interference.

UWB LANs could reach the market relatively quickly, although the standard for basic UWB use is still not complete. Pulse-Link plans to launch a UWB wireless LAN chipset by the end of 2004. Since it uses a software-defined radio, any changes resulting from the development of a standard can be easily added, the company said.

"Since forming the company, one of Pulse-LINK's primary goals for UWB communications has been the pursuit of high data rates at long transmission ranges," said Pulse-Link chief technology officer John Santhoff. The company also has plans to use UWB over wire for higher bandwidth on cables.