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The June 22, 2004 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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UWB Moving Ahead -- Interview with Pulse~Link

Pulse~Link invited us to meet with them a few weeks ago in Boston, where they were sponsoring and exhibiting at an ITU Ultra Wideband task group meeting. We spent several hours with John Santhoff (founder and CTO), Bruce Watkins (President and COO) and Tom Kovanic (VP of Marketing).

We have written previously about ultra wideband (UWB) and Pulse~Link - see What's Next for Wireless Networking. Founded four years ago, they have announced many applications for high-speed UWB: over hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks; over home power lines; and wireless in the home.

In Boston, Tom showed us all of these in operation using early versions of their technology.

  • The HFC demonstration showed a small simulated cable network built from off-the-shelf CATV equipment running high-definition video over UWB along with multiple standard video channels.
  • The power line demonstration showed HD video running across an active power line through a power strip to an HD set.
  • The wireless demo showed two HD video streams running over the air through a single UWB stream to two HD sets.

Pulse~Link has developed an integrated circuit it calls a "media-diverse UWB Software Defined Cognitive Radio (SDCR) solution." They say it will support all three media types--cable, power line and wireless--simultaneously on the same chipset, and project very impressive "target data rates":

  • HFC: 1 Gbps downstream, 480 Mbps upstream
  • Cable in home: 2 Gbps
  • Power line: 200 Mbps over short range (through a power strip)
  • Wireless: 500 Mbps to 1 Gpbs short range, 125 Mbps at 20 meters

Like other UWB approaches, all of these share the spectrum without interfering with existing services--video over cable, Wi-Fi networks in the home--carried over the same system.

John explained the technical approach Pulse~Link uses to achieve these speeds: the data is coded by the different times between very narrow pulses -- they call this a "pulse recurrent frequency" approach. Other "flavors" of UWB use different means to encode data.

With many different approaches to UWB, the IEEE 802.15.3a Task Group for high-rate wireless personal area networks has so far been unable to agree on a single approach. To break the impasse, John is leading a drive to adopt a "common signalling mode" (CSM) to provide an "etiquette" for UWB devices based on different approaches to coexist, coordinate their actions and interoperate in the same wireless network.

( www.pulselink.net ) ( uraxs.com/ITU-R_Boston_2004/TG_1-8_Boston.htm ) ( www.ieee802.org/15/pub/TG3a.html )