Ultra-wideband results delayed

Federal officials and commercial vendors awaiting the results of tests of

ultra-wideband products and their effects on the Global Positioning System

and other critical systems will have to wait a bit longer.

Test reports originally slated to be submitted by Oct. 30 are now expected

to come in next year — one report in mid-01/and a second by the end

of February, according to the National Telecommunications and Information

Administration.

Reasons for the delay range from a failure on the part of vendors and

government to supply items for review to a delay on the release of funds

to run the experiments.

One test, to measure the effects of ultra-wideband signals on GPS receivers,

fell behind because test equipment was so hard to set up and calibrate,

according to an Oct. 31 letter from a top Commerce Department official to

the head of the Federal Communications Commission.

Gregory Rohde, assistant secretary of Commerce and administrator of

the NTIA, said that tests were also delayed because of difficulties getting

GPS devices and the information needed to test them, difficulties in setting

up automated tests and delays in funding.

A spokesman for Rohde said his office will not comment further on the

testing process beyond what is in the letter.

Robert Fontana, president of Multispectral Solutions Inc., said he was

not surprised by the delay. He said he previously wrote to the FCC asking

the agency to extend the deadline for comments on ultra-wideband until March

or April 2001 instead of the first part of the year.

Fontana said he expected a two-month delay, and "sure enough, that's

exactly what happened."

MSSI contributed several devices to be used in testing, including a

handheld radio with an ultra-wideband transceiver, an ultra-wideband ground

wave radio designed for non-line-of-sight operations — between boats, for

example — and a radar device used for altimetry and collision avoidance.

Other companies were also supposed to turn over devices to the government

for testing. In his letter, Rohde did not say which companies had provided

ultra-wideband devices.

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