UWB-based Short Range Wireless Technology to Have a Profound Impact on Future Mobile Device Communications

Monday, May 19th, 2008

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Wireless USB, based on the WiMedia Alliance’s Ultrawideband (UWB) common radio platform which is promoted by USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), is slowly garnering attention from mobile device manufacturers as it has exhibited efficient power consumption. It is capable of transmitting data up to 480 Mbps at distances up to 3 meters and 110 Mbps at up to 10 meters. It is gradually being implemented in game controllers, digital cameras, portable media players (PMPs), and laptops. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has also announced that the next version of Bluetooth would be based on Wimedia’s UWB common radio platform.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Impact of UWB on Mobile Device Communications, finds that UWB is the most attractive emerging technology that can satisfy the power efficiency and data rate demands of the present day mobile device users.

“The interaction between devices such as cell phones, smart phones, digital cameras, portable media players, laptops, high definition televisions (HDTVs), and computers is burgeoning,” notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Industry Analyst Venkat Malleypula. “We are also witnessing rapid growth in the memory capacity of mobile devices such as mobile phones and PMPs.”

As a result, people frequently transfer multimedia content between mobile devices and computers. Current-generation wireless technologies are not suitable for sharing multimedia content due to their power and data rate limitations. This has created a need for a wireless technology that can enable high data transmission rates while consuming very little power.

“Existing wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are not suitable for transferring large files as they can drain the battery at a rapid pace,” says Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Achyuthanandan S. “UWB, on the other hand, is popular for its low power consumption and is slowly becoming the technology of choice for enabling the convergence of the disparate segments of data, entertainment, and mobile communications.”

However, for UWB to make inroads into small-sized mobile devices segments, the chipsets need to be extremely small in size and volume. This is a key challenge that will determine the future of UWB in mobile devices, barring laptops and notebook PCs. Furthermore, although UWB is an extremely low-power technology, its power efficiency is yet to be proved in mobile devices.

“Mobile device manufacturers are looking at average power consumption levels of one milliwatt/Mb when the device is active and zero power consumption when the device is in standby,” notes Malleypula. “Such targets are yet to be achieved by UWB-based mobile devices and only a proven solution can convince people to shift to UWB-based mobile devices.”

Given these challenges, UWB chipset manufacturers need to strive toward designing small-sized chipsets that could slot into current-generation mobile devices. Furthermore, although it cited as a low-power technology, its efficiency in terms of power needs to be demonstrated through a product in the market. This entirely lies in the hands of the chipset and mobile device manufacturers. Additionally, the WiMedia Alliance and chipset manufacturers work toward bringing the cost of chipsets to as low as $5 or below to ensure that cost does not deter UWB’s adoption.

Impact of UWB on Mobile Device Communications, part of the Technical Insights program, provides a technology overview and outlook for UWB technology. Furthermore, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.