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ABI: Certified Wireless USB and UWB Bluetooth Both Have Roles to Play
[July 31, 2006]

ABI: Certified Wireless USB and UWB Bluetooth Both Have Roles to Play

TMCnet Associate Editor
If you’ve been wrangling with question, “Which will do better, Certified Wireless USB or UWB Bluetooth?”—relax. It turns out both technologies will have a role to play in the world of mobile computing and wireless devices.

In a new report out today, ABI Research concludes that there is room for Certified Wireless USB and UWB Bluetooth.

First, a bit of background.
The Certified Wireless USB standard is managed by USB Implementers Forum, Inc., which defines it as “the new wireless extension to USB that combines the speed and security of wired technology with the ease-of-use of wireless technology.”
WiMedia Alliance’s ultra wideband technology was integrated into Bluetooth SIG’s standard in March. Bluetooth SIG defines UWB Bluetooth as technology that “will meet the high-speed demands of synchronizing and transferring large amounts of data as well as enabling high quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multi-media projectors and television sets.”
At least for now, Certified Wireless USB (W-USB) has a leg up, ABI said. “W-USB is here today and commercial product launches are imminent,” the research firm reported. “Bluetooth over WiMedia is still two or three years away.”
Both standards have a role to play, though.
“The Bluetooth market realized 317 million unit shipments of ICs in 2005 and is set to reach over 500 million in 2006,” ABI noted. That poses UWB Bluetooth as an important player in the mobile marketplace.
ABI analyst Stuart Carlaw examined the two standards, and predicted that UWB Bluetooth will be will be most important to the cellular handset market, while W-USB will be of most interest to the PC peripherals market.
“The application protocols that will run over WiMedia solutions are one of the most interesting and hotly contested areas in the short range connectivity market place today,” Carlaw noted in a statement. “Startups in this market are moving to all-CMOS implementations in order to drive down the cost of devices and stimulate volume growth.”
As a result of that move, Carlaw said, those startups will need to quickly realize volume shipments to offset the low margin per chip.
Meanwhile, W-USB will help start-up integrated circuit (IC) vendors carve out a niche for themselves.
“Broad-line IC vendors will crash in as UWB hits the handset market with a vengeance, a development which will coincide with Bluetooth ratification of the high data rate standard,” Carlaw predicted.
He concluded: “There will be room for both, especially in recognition of the ability of WiMedia to support multiple application protocols on the same IC.”

Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.

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