End is nigh for Freescale's UWB?

Freescale Semiconductor's future in the ultra-fast short range wireless technology ultra-wideband (UWB) looks very shaky, as its partners are abandoning it.

Two companies, Gefen and Belkin, persuaded by Freescale's promise to be first with UWB chips, announced Wireless USB products based on Freescale's UWB in January. Both companies have been forced to move to chips from the rival WiMedia group, before a much-delayed delivery later this year, according to reports.

"My feeling is that we're not going to see a great deal from Freescale," ABI Research analyst Stuart Carlaw told Wi-Fi Planet, which also reports that both Gefen and Belkin are now planning to use chipsets from other suppliers, that meet the WiMedia specification, which has been adopted as a standard by ECMA and the USB Implementers' Forum.

With a six month lead, Freescale might have got some market share, says Carlaw, but according to Wi-Fi Planet, the delivery date of its UWB silicon has now been pushed back to "2007 at the earliest, if ever". Belkin and Gefen would not say whose UWB silicon they were moving to.

Arguments between Freescale and WiMedia had deadlocked the IEEE group, which eventually disbanded.

Freescale has gone quiet on UWB, with no press releases on the subject since January, and no announcements in the field since April, when it flounced out of its own UWB Forum, which it had created in opposition to WiMedia, prompting us to see the whole thing as afanciful soap opera.

At the Freescale Technology Forum last week, Freescale focussed on memory and WiMax technologies. Its partner, UK radio company CSR discussed its own UWB products based on WiMedia, at the Freescale event.

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