News & Analysis

WiMedia folds, UWB spec goes to Bluetooth, USB groups

Patrick Mannion

3/16/2009 8:39 AM EDT

MANHASSET, N.Y. — The WiMedia Alliance is handing over all current and future specification development of its version of ultrawideband (UWB) to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the Wireless USB Promoter Group and the USB Implementers Forum. Once the handoff is completed, it will shut down.

According to Stephen Wood, president of the WiMedia Alliance, the move is, "a modification to the industry structure we've been discussing and negotiating with the [three groups] since about July of last year."

The move comes as the wireless technology has reached a state of maturity, and it is now time to, "start simplifying how the industry was structured," said Wood.

Given that all four groups share members, the move acknowledges that those members were finding it difficult to attend what were essentially duplicate meetings in tough economic times. The structure also required manufacturers to obtain multiple certifications.

"Manufacturers say they have to get any travel approved, and having to go to multiple [special interest groups] to go over the same material was a nonstarter," said Wood. "We decided it's best to hand off development to each SIG and for WiMedia to step out of the picture."

The group succeeded in preventing Freescale Semiconductor from dominating the IEEE 802.15.3a standards process. After that process stalled, WiMedia successfully lobbied for the global acceptance of the WiMedia radio.

Stakeholders said handing off the spec to separate groups won't create a specification development schism or new intellectual property issues. The reason, they said, is that member manufacturers want a single IC SKU. Two major WiMedia IP holders, Alereon and Staccato, will license IP under the Bluetooth SIG's RAND-Z (zero royalty) rules. WiMedia uses standard reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

To answer questions regarding the hand off, WiMedia has posted a FAQ.


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