Critical report on the way

NTIA report could decide whether ultra-wideband can be used commercially with GPS.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will release its long-awaited assessment on the compatibility — or lack thereof — between ultra-wideband technologies and the Global Positioning System March 9.

The report will also be posted on the administration's Web site, at www.ntia.doc.gov.

The assessment is one of two conducted by the NTIA, the office of the Commerce Department that is responsible for developing policy on ultra-wideband, or UWB.

A separate report on the effects of ultra-wideband on air route surveillance radar, airport surveillance radar and the air traffic control beacon system was released Jan. 18. That report concluded that commercial ultra-wideband devices can operate in the bandwidth used by the radar and air traffic control systems.

But NTIA withheld any policy recommendations, noting that testing against the GPS was still underway.

The findings in the March 9 report could influence whether or not NTIA recommends that UWB technology be used in commercial products.

Both reports were supposed to be released last year, but the testing fell behind schedule. The radar system tests became delayed when funding for the work was not released on time, and some vendors and government agencies were slow in delivering test equipment.

The GPS testing got off to a late start because test equipment was hard to set up and calibrate, according to an Oct. 31 letter from the NTIA to the FCC.

UWB operates at low power and broadcasts brief pulses over a range of the spectrum, including those frequencies used by other systems.

UWB advocates claim that UWB signal bursts can cross frequencies without causing interference. The report released in January appears to support that claim.

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