back to article Get your Ultra Wide Band from Monday

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has legalised the use of UWB in the UK from Monday, 13 August. The announcement comes within weeks of the first UWB devices being certified as conforming to the Wireless USB standard. The licence exemption means users of UWB won't need a license to operate, assuming it's not fixed to anything …


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  1. Rob Mossop


    How long will it be before the first 'electrosensitives' start crying about UWB devices giving them headaches/cancer/cravings for marmite on toast?

    Three, maybe four minutes? Despite the fact that none are on the market yet?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so... well as using my neighbour's internet connection, i'll soon be able to use his printer too - fantastic!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Marmite ...

    I've been craving Marmite on toast for years. Just how long have these b*st*rds been carrying out UWB tests? I think we should be told!

  4. Dillon Pyron


    We used to war drive neighborhoods looking for open APs. And shared printers. We'd then print a message telling the user that they were wide open along with instructions on how to close the hole. Quite a lot of fun, actually.

    UWB is power limited, huh? That never stopped the criminals from jacking up the power and using high gain antennas.

    Oh yeah, my head hurts, I can't concentrate, I think my skin is turning red. Either it's UWB or I need to quit drinking so many margaritas while I'm laying in the sun.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cable clutter, ngggg!

    Too bad wireless USB won't eliminate ALL the cables behind our desks. For every communication cable that is eliminated, another one is placed for powering the device...

    What about all the stuff that sucks power from USB, they won't work over wireless USB. Your pendrive needs energy to work, you know? Not to mention your portable 2" hard drive, that comes close to the 500mA spec.

    Did you expect to recharge your iPod over UWB? THINK AGAIN.

    The great trick of USB was cutting down on cable clutter, I bought a scanner that doesn't need a brick, all the power it needs comes from the PC.

    Ah, so all the devices, instead of being stuck to the PC, are now stuck to a FREAKING HUB? What is the point? It is increasing the clutter, not cutting it down!

    WHAT NOW, BATTERY POWERED PRINTERS? THE LASER ONES? Do we have any Diesel subs being dismantled around, so we can get their batt's?

    I heard once, "Wireless 5.1 home-theater". How come, "wireless"? Does it run on batteries? No, it has a ginormous cable to hook it up to a socket in the wall, so it's not "wireless". Good luck trying to power a 250W subwoofer on batteries!

    The whole idea is just plain stupid, most devices need lots of juice to run, and the power cable can't be cut. The whole point for wireless for me, was to cut cable mess.

    That doesn't happen with wireless networks because it fulfills the main promise: you are providing a service to devices that already rely on batteries, such as notebooks, PDAs, cellphones... but even them, at the end of the day, will have to shake hands with a power brick hooked to your electric bill.

    What we need is a high-power, high-bandwidth cable. A single type of cable, that connects everything to everything else: the PC, the monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, printers, scanners, in any order. Only one of them needs to be plugged on the wall, everything goes live from there.

    How about a new USB spec: 110/220V, fully compatible to previous USB design, enough bandwidth to plug your monitor to it. You can daisy-channel everything, in any order, but the rule is, only two cables per device. Of course, the PC could be used as a Hub, but no other device would need to be plugged on the wall, just the PC.

  6. voshkin


    "110/220V, fully compatible to previous USB design"

    Mate, you have some “issues”

    Have you seen USB cables? (Inside the nice shielded cable) the tiny cables that would melt and burn at the slightest hint of a load required to power a monitor... your “idea” is simply unworkable.

    And what is it with you and UWB – it is a great idea!!

    My long table is filled with too much crap, two computers, three large monitors, printers, scanners, telephone, etc, etc, it barely leaves room for me to make piles of papers! I have long dreamed of unloading some of the crap that I use <1 times a day onto another desk in the room, e.g. the printers and the scanner can go in there.

    All the network printer sharing thingies I tried are absolute crap! They are slow and unreliable (perhaps OK for printing of a TV guide, but try printing a 300 MB Photoshop file...) and network scanning... well, unless you scanner is networked out of the box – forget it.

    - UWB security – I presume that they would work in a similar way to Bluetooth, with some kind of a “password” (hopefully not 0000)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Cable clutter, ngggg!

    "What about all the stuff that sucks power from USB, they won't work over wireless USB. Your pendrive needs energy to work, you know? Not to mention your portable 2" hard drive, that comes close to the 500mA spec."

    Well I guess the point is mainly for things that already have power and just use the USB cable for data transfer, either in the way of batteries or mains. Think cameras, phones, PDAs, external drives, MP3 players. A lot of these can be charged by USB and also by mains power.

  8. GettinSadda

    @Cable clutter, ngggg!

    Yeah, right on...

    And also we need a single standard vehicle, one that can take me down to the shops on a Saturday morning, and can take my kids to school in the mornings, and the school can use one to take a whole class out on a field trip, and you can use them for hauling freight. They would need to work in all weathers, be able to run off road, be quiet enough that it can be used in residential streets at night, oh, and it needs to be able to go on the water so I can go aboard, and maybe fly so I can go a long way off...

    Two phrases to consider:

    a) Jack of all trades, master of none.

    b) Horses for courses

  9. Richard

    And exactly why do we need UWB...

    Voshkin: when your mobile phone and WiFi stops working well don't be surprised...

    When the compatibility studies for UWB were done with mobile one of the lobbyists for the technology produced a study claiming only 9 devices would be operating simultaneously across the entire of looks like we have at least one person with 9 possible devices within the space of 2 square metres...not exactly unpredictable. I could do with that too to clear up my cables...

    Other studies from the same suspects to fix the power level set the minimum separation distance between transmitter and interferee to 50cm. Not sure about you guys but my mobile is about 10cm long, my laptop about 30cm long so I'm not quite sure how this is possible if these devices are going to have UWB attached to them, which is part of the plan. Guess what...I sometimes also put my mobile next to my laptop. Am I wacky or what? Of course the studies assumed an even statistical distribution across an office rather than clustering on a desk...

    The problem with UWB is that it's a concept based on loony tunes left wing ideology that we can all share a resource fairly without people being selfish, pushed forward by major multinationals with an IPR stake in the technologies. You find lots of US lawyers talking about how great the "spectrum commons" are and "free spectrum"...these guys clearly just don't have the common sense to look at analogous sectors like for example land which illustrate the true selfish reality of human nature. How much common land is left in the UK or anywhere with an efficient agriculture sector? Virtually none because in practice it is a dumb idea because nobody has an incentive to look after it. Private ownership of land is actually really efficient because people look after it: they can develop technologies like rotating crops to improve the quality, can segment land so that sheep don't eat wheat etc etc. Spectrum is just the same (think frequency planning, segmenting safety critical radar from cellular, avoiding broadcast interference with GPS etc). And the worst thing is that Dillon is right, technology "enthusiasts" will subvert the regulation and increase the power, screwing over their neighbors...and what's the incentive for a device manufacturer to achieve sufficient quality control to comply with power regulation? None because it is the end user who is criminally liable in administrations like the UK, and there are no penalties applicable to manufacturers.

    There are literally hundreds of MHz of licence exempt spectrum available for cable replacement: WiFi bands at 2.4GHz and 5GHz come to nearly 1GHz...and the 5GHz band is not very widely used. UWB enables precisely NO new applications. You wouldn't believe some of the lobbying for UWB a few years back claiming it would empower wireless mice, printers and video transmission...these applications are perfectly achievable with existing tech and spectrum bands without any risk to other technologies. However the UWB lobbyists probably don't own a patent portfolio to monopolise those techs...

    So what's going to be the end result if the uptake is high? There's a risk of reduced capacity cellular networks...which means more towers and more people complaining of dead spots which just happen to be in their office near their desk...

    Sorry for the rant. I'm just an engineer who gets angry when dumb stuff happens...particularly when there are technologists who argue for new whizz bang technology without any understanding of what will happen in the real world and without realising that their fantastic new technology is simply being driven by a multinational corporate IPR agenda and lobbying.


  10. Ishkandar

    Re voshkin

    From your comments, I presume that you have everything connected up to the "network printer sharing thingies". We have more than one network printer for 10 people who do approx.20-40 (text and/or image) prints per day each. The difference is that the printers run off a 386 box salvaged from the scrap heap, force-fed with Linux and made to function as a print server/spooler on the LAN.

    This liberated 10 printer cables and 10 power cables for the unneeded printers and a LOT of desk real estate which get promptly colonised by plush toys, boxes of chocolate biscuits, "must have" executive toys, etc.; the network cable is there anyway for other purposes.

  11. Parax

    Power Networks?

    What happend to Network over mains?

    Why bother with a wireless link when my network printer is already connected to the same (power)network as my PC?

    Or is this just another way to withhold useful technology so they can sell it to us again later?

    The only use for wireless usb is so I dont have to get my phone out of my pocket, but then dont I have bluetooth for that?

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