Monday 13 August 2007

Beginning of the Cablefree world

With UWB becoming popular and more devices about to be rolled out, the cable connections between TV, VCR, DVD players, Camcorders, etc can be a thing of past.

In UK, OFCOM removed the restrictions for the use of UWB devices upto a range of 30 metres. In the US and Japan, UWB home hubs are a popular way of sharing domestic broadband.

Ultra-Wideband (UWB) can be used to send huge amounts of information between electronic devices, making it suitable for connecting items such as digital TV decoders and DVD players to television sets, or digital cameras to computers.

It could also be used to wirelessly link satellite dishes or cable TV connections to set-top boxes, doing away with the need for cables to be poked through walls and run around skirting boards. Satellite broadcaster Sky, for instance, is understood to be looking at whether UWB could be integrated into its equipment.

Described by techies as "Bluetooth on steroids", UWB can operate over distances of up to 30 metres. Japanese electronics manufacturers are already producing modems that use UWB, while Cambridge-based chip maker ARM Holdings has deals with several companies that plan to make UWB devices.

Separately, Vodafone yesterday joined the Wimax Forum which is creating standards and specifications for a new longer-range wireless broadband technology. The company stressed that it is taking a neutral stance on the next generation of wireless technologies, but the move raised eyebrows in the mobile phone industry.

Wimax, which can operate over many miles, is seen as a competitor to another next generation wireless technology, which is being developed by the mobile phone companies and builds on the existing 3G standard. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is an mobile industry-led project designed to upgrade the existing 3G service. The LTE group is supposed to come up with recommendations on a new standard next month.

Earlier this year Vodafone's chief executive Arun Sarin warned that the process of getting a new wireless standard was taking too long. "As an industry it takes us a long time to get things done - we need to move faster or others will eat our lunch," he said.

Meanwhile The European Commission is opening up the wireless technology market by discarding out-dated rules limiting the areas of available radio spectrum. Next-generation wireless technologies such as BlackBerrys and smartphones work best over low frequencies that, until now, were reserved for GSM mobile phones. According to a statement last week, the Commission will allow new services to co-exist alongside GSM. The aim is to establish a more flexible, market-driven approach to spectrum management, says European Union telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding.

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