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UWB Alliance Aims for Interoperability

The new organization, which includes technology companies and end users among its members, intends to promote interoperable standards while working to ensure co-existence with W-Fi standards.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 04, 2019

In order to promote ultra-wideband (UWB) technology development and deployments through greater interoperability and standardization, a group of technology companies and end users publically launched the UWB Alliance in December 2018. The global, not-for-profit alliance seeks not only to enable end-to-end interoperability and value chain ecosystems around the world, but also to promote UWB technology and educate the public regarding how much it is used.

"UWB is present in all sorts of products, but not everyone is aware of that," says Tim Harrington, the chairman of the UWB Alliance. The organization began in 2017 during a series of meetings between UWB technology providers and end users, and was incorporated in May 2018. The key point for the Alliance, however, has been interoperability. As part of this effort, several members have been working on the IEEE's 802.15 Enhanced Impulse Radio (EiR) Task Group 4z to add new capabilities to the UWB-based physical layer transceiver (PHY) and media access control (MAC) portions of the standard, which will ensure that different UWB technologies can operate together. Harrington is also the chairman of the 4z Task Group.

Ultra-wideband is a low-energy, high-bandwidth technology that transmits in pulses. The technology has been standardized at the PHY and MAC layers by the ISO and IEEE 802.15. Additionally, ETSI's TGUWB Task Group has developed multiple UWB standards for regulatory approval throughout the European Union. However, there are several types of UWB—which have been published by IEEE within the 802.15.4 standard—that are classified by their pulse repetition frequency (PRF): namely, high-rate PRF (HRP) and low-rate PRF (LRP). Each plays a different role within UWB, Harrington explains, and has different transmission techniques associated with it.

The result, according to Harrington, is non-standardized technology. IEEE's working group defines the standard for only the MAC and PHY layers, he notes, but this is insufficient to provide true interoperability. There must be defined parameters above these layers in order to enable the technology to interoperate. The UWB Alliance seeks to work with members to enable the different types of technologies to interoperate, and to work with similar PHY and MAC combinations.

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