A battle over the proposed ultra wide-band (UWB) 802.15.3a personal area network standard is pitting the Multiband OFDM Alliance against proponents of the Direct Sequence UWB method. Both groups have defined legitimate physical layers, and now it is up to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) to decide which one it will adopt. Ultra wide-band, which is an emerging technology that allows for short-range high-bandwidth communications, is attracting substantial interest from the consumer electronics industry. The likes of Sony, Philips, Panasonic, and others see huge opportunity in implementing this type of connectivity in home theatre systems, said Jennifer Stark, emerging communications business team lead for Agilent Technologies Inc. "The consumer electronics industry has for a long time been looking for a wireless technology that they could deploy for home theatre (systems) that would have the same quality as cable connections. So it appears that the most likely first introduction of 802.15.3a will be for the consumer electronics industry," she told Report on Wireless in a media briefing. Stark explained that while it looks like both groups could be moving toward a "head-on collision" trying to get their particular specification chosen as the physical layer for 802.15.3a equipment, there could be room for the two competing physical layers. "We have the expectation that probably both of those physical layers will survive in some form. It’s not clear if they’ll be associated with 802.15.3a, but they are both legitimate physical layers and they do produce legitimate UWB signals. Those physical layers will exist somewhere perhaps in another niche or perhaps in the 802.15.3a space, but there’s no reason for them to go away necessarily. They probably won’t co-exist in the exact same space, but I expect they won’t disappear entirely." Battle brewing in US over UWB useEven though the IEEE has yet to define the 802.15.3a standard, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already approved use of UWB devices. However, this has caused friction south of the border between proponents of UWB and users where UWB equipment is being deployed. The problem arises because of the nature of UWB, which transmits across several frequency bands, licensed and unlicensed, but at very low power. Stark said that UWB acts like "noise" in a particular frequency and this has some users up in arms. "By definition, you’re going to be on top of other things, but the FCC has said ‘that’s okay because we’ve defined something that should look just like noise.’ But if you have licensed spectrum in that space you may not see it that way. So there’s some lobbying going on in the background around that as well. "It’s being petitioned, it’s being challenged because there are lots of narrow band receivers out there in licensed spectrum who are quite put out that someone would be deliberately granted liberty to transmit right on top of their licensed space. I expect this to be quite an interesting showdown," Stark told RoW. Canada has yet to officially open the debate on ultra wide-band technology, but there is a public consultation document in the works. Last fall, Industry Canada indicated that it would study UWB and its potential use in a variety of products including radar, medical devices, sensors and communications devices.