Silicon maker Freescale, having lost every single competition for the nascent super-fast ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, has left the only club that would still have it - the UWB Forum, which it set up itself.
Freescale's version of UWB has been passed over, in favour of the Intel-backed WiMedia flavour, for wireless USB, and (last week) for super-fast Bluetooth, both of which will give connection speeds of around 500 Mbit/s for devices.
The UWB Forum, set up in 2004 to promote the direct sequence (DS-UWB) technology of Motorola spin-off Freescale, failed in both cases to get DS-UWB adopted, and also failed to stop WiMedia getting its technology passed as the only formal UWB standard so far, from ECMA.
Freescale has withdrawn because the Forum is focusing on standards (which is what it was set up for), according to a Freescale statement: "Freescale's UWB focus today is on delivering Cable-Free USB solutions for consumer applications... The UWB Forum's focus is on standards, regulatory and technology development."
In other words, Freescale's game now is to try and get as many consumers as possible to buy its "Cable-Free USB", before the official Certified Wireless USB, based on WiMedia, arrives. The two cards Freescale holds are the fact that its products should arrive in the market slightly sooner, and they are designed to work as dongles with existing USB 2.0 equipment, while the Certified version is an upgrade.
"We are well positioned to capture the wireless USB market with an early market lead and our unique 'extension' strategy for USB - a true extension of existing USB done wirelessly," said the Freescale statement, ignoring the fact that it is attempting to establish a de facto PC standard in opposition to Intel and Microsoft.
It then made a comparison between Cable-Free USB as an extension to USB, and Wi-Fi as an extension of Ethernet - the two most obvious objections to this being that Wi-Fi, unlike Cable-Free USB, is endorsed by the IEEE and Intel.
Although Freescale's former parent, Motorola, also left, the UWB Forum seems likely to continue. Pulse-Link, which promotes another version of UWB and is concentrating on consumer devices, seems likely to jump into a leadership role for the 100 or so remaining members: "The UWB Forum is not made up of one or two companies, it has been and continues to be a federation of companies, groups and organizations promoting the virtues of true impulse base UWB technology that will continue," John Santhoff, chief technology officer at Pulse-Link, told the EE Times. "Pulse-Link continues to support the UWB Forum and the virtues of true impulse based UWB for the delivery of digital content throughout the home."
Ultra-wideband technology (read backgrounder) uses low-power signals across a broad spectrum, a low power so no licence is required. The IEEE failed to create a standard, because Freescale lobbying prevented WiMedia getting the required 75 percent majority.