Report: Ultrawideband dies by 2013

TechOnline India - May 04, 2009

Ultrawideband technology is effectively dead in consumer and computer markets, according to a new report from market watcher In-Stat that says Wi-Fi will take the vast majority of the market for handling high definition video over wireless links while Wi-Fi variants and 60 GHz options will grab a thin slice of the pie.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Ultrawideband (UWB) technology is effectively dead in consumer and computer markets, according to a new report from market watcher In-Stat. Wi-Fi will take the vast majority of the market for handling high definition video over wireless links while Wi-Fi variants and 60 GHz options will grab a thin slice of the pie, the report said.

"UWB solutions in the CE segment will be gone by 2012," predicted Brian O'Rourke, principal analyst covering the sector in his latest report. "Similarly, UWB solutions will be gone from the PC segment by 2013," he wrote.

"By 2013, the only UWB solutions still on the market will be proprietary solutions in the industrial/medical segment. All other UWB will be gone by the end of the forecast period" in 2013, he added.

O'Rourke forecasted a shakeout among UWB startups last fall. Following the economic downturn, that shakeout came in spades.

WiQuest folded in October. Staccato Communications and Artimi merged to pool resources in November. PulseLink slashed staff down to a bare bones operation late last year. Tzero closed in February, followed by Radiospire. The WiMedia Alliance, the UWB industry group, will end operations later this year.

"I was pretty bullish on UWB's prospects for a long time, but no one seems to agree with me," said O'Rourke in a late April interview. "I am starting to think [UWB's] time may have passed," he said.

"The Wireless USB crowd is imploding," said Tan Rao, co-founder and the first chief executive of Radiospire. "Those still in existence are hunkering down, and I don't see a lot of traction. They have a lot of competition from 802.11n which is doing a lot of what the WiMedia Alliance promised," he said.

Three UWB startups remain—Alereon, Staccato and Wisair. They claim the technology will find its way next-generation notebooks debuting in 2010 as well as a variety of peripherals.

The USB Implementers Forum said it will release in June a new version of the wireless USB spec that is based on ultrawideband. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group is discussing plans for using UWB as a future high bandwidth transport.

In his report, O'Rourke predicted 802.11n will be the big winner in next-generation wireless networks capable of handing high def video.

More than 100 million systems will have high def capable wireless links this year rising to nearly 800 million units by 2013, O'Rourke predicted, the vast majority of them based on 802.11n.

The two leading contenders include the wireless home digital interface (WHDI) based on a proprietary variant of 802.11 from startup Amimon and 60 GHz technology called WirelessHD from startup SiBeam. Taken together they will only ship about one million units this year, rising to about 13 million units in 2013, O'Rourke forecasts.

"WHDI and WirelessHD are new, expensive, power-hungry technologies that are being promoted by start-ups, which is not generally a recipe for quick market success. We expect them to be adopted slowly over the length of the forecast," O'Rourke said.

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