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Motorola snaps up ultrawideband firm's assets

Motorola has acquired the assets of ultrawideband supplier XtremeSpectrum.

The company will apply its resources to driving down the size, cost and power consumption of UWB (ultra-wideband) wireless network chipsets using  XtremeSpectrum technology.

UWB, approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year, uses a broad spectrum of different radio frequencies to deliver high bandwidth over a relatively short range.

Proponents have been pushing the technology primarily for wireless connections among home entertainment devices. It might also lead to wireless forms of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 and IEEE 1394 interconnects.

An IEEE working group is still working on a standard for the technology. In the group, Motorola and XtremeSpectrum have been advocating the same proposed approach to UWB, called direct-sequence CDMA (code-division multiple access). 

Motorola will acquire the intellectual property and employees of privately held XtremeSpectrum, said Omid Tahernia, vice president and director of strategy and business development for Motorola's wireless and mobile systems group.

About 50 employees will transfer to Motorola but will continue to work at what has been XtremeSpectrum's headquarters. XtremeSpectrum's investors will hold on to the "shell" of the company and its name. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Motorola is a longtime investor in XtremeSpectrum, which was founded in 1998, and has been working with the company on its UWB technology.

XtremeSpectrum's second-generation UWB chipset, called Trinity, is now available in sample quantities and scheduled to ship to equipment makers in the first quarter of next year. It can deliver data rates as high as 100Mbps (bits per second) and has a range of 10m.

The third generation of its chipset, intended to deliver about 500Mbps over a range of about 10m, should ship in volume in the second or third quarter of 2005.

Reducing the size and power consumption of UWB chipsets will be critical for achieving market success by getting the technology on small, handheld devices, said Gemma Paulo, an analyst at In-Stat/MDR, although she admitted that the future of XtremeSpectrum's particular technology is hard to gauge because the official standard is still up in the air.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service

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