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Motorola Makes Ultra-Wideband Play

Motorola is acquiring ultra-wideband (UWB) developer XtremeSpectrum of Vienna, Va. The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions and approvals and is expected to close within the week. Financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Motorola and XtremeSpectrum have been active members of the standardization efforts for UWB. Monday's announcement follows XtremeSpectrum's filing a "Letter of Assurance for Essential Patents" with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) stating that if XtremeSpectrum's proposed contributions to the IEEE 802.15.3a standard are adopted, XtremeSpectrum would be willing to grant royalty-free licenses under XtremeSpectrum's essential patents to parties who would grant a similar royalty-free license under their patents to XtremeSpectrum and other licensees of the company's patents.

This may facilitate industry-wide adoption of this UWB technology if it is selected as part of the standard by IEEE. The IEEE Board of Standards meets next week in Albuquerque, N.M.

UWB is a wireless technology that transmits an extremely low power signal over a wide swath of radio spectrum. Unlike conventional radio systems that operate within a relatively narrow bandwidth, i.e., Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, UWB operates across a wide range of frequency spectrum by transmitting a series of very narrow and low power pulses.

The combination of broader spectrum, lower power and pulsed data means that UWB causes less interference than conventional narrowband radio solutions, and delivers wire-like performance in an indoor wireless environment. This makes ultra-wideband technology ideal for consumer electronics applications that are increasingly multimedia-rich in content.

The high data rate and low power consumption are ideal for multimedia-centric products, such as digital displays, camcorders, DVD players, digital video recorders and digital cameras, to send and receive digital streams of audio and video.

XtremeSpectrum announced it would develop UWB solutions in June 2002, after the Federal Communications Commission approved rules for the commercial use of the wireless technology. The company's chipset is designed to achieve 100 megabits per second data rates while consuming less than 200 milliwatts of power.

Motorola plans to work closely with customers to embed the technology into an array of consumer products for demonstration by the end of this year.