Wi-fi is a wireless data networking protocol, which allows for PCs and laptops to access the internet, within a given area or "hotspot", via a high frequency wireless local area network (WLAN). The term Wi-Fi was coined by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) as another name for IEEE 802.11b networking standard. WECA is still involved in certifying new wireless modems in order to verify that they are fully compatible with the standard.

WiMedia Moves Forward with Interoperable UWB

By Glenn Fleishman

The WiMedia Alliance promises interoperability among members’ implementation of the MultiBand OFDM version of ultrawideband (UWB): Their first set of testing resulted in Alereon, Staccato, RealTek, WiQuest, and Wisair’s silicon working nicely with each other. The group expects devices on the market in the second half of 2006. From conversations I’ve had, I expected that Wireless USB will be the first real application. But the way in which the WiMedia forum wants its technology implemented—one radio, many standards—early radios could later support overlays of Bluetooth applications and FireWire transfers.

Certification for the PHY (radio/physical) part of the equation should start by the end of this quarter; higher layers, like MAC (data framing and error correction) and applications will start being certified by the end of 2nd quarter.

The alliance’s chief competitor, Freescale, has devices due out in in a month or so, initially USB replacements from Gefen and Belkin, two smaller but significant niche networking, video, and accessory firms. The first USB hub with UWB will be a paired set of a dongle and an AC-powered four-port USB hub that can be located some distance from the laptop. The devices will use UWB for communication but simulate USB 2.0 for the ports, requiring no drivers.

Freescale has discussed UWB has a seamless replacement technology in its early products rather than as a multi-purpose radio with various overlays. However, that, too, is to come from them, as the Bluetooth SIG has publicly—and one images other privately—have discussed adding their higher-layer services on top of Freescale’s flavors.

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