Ultra-wideband safe in sensitive spectrum

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has found that commercial ultra-wideband devices can operate in the bandwidth used by sensitive federal systems.

NTIA, a branch of the Commerce Department, released a report Jan. 18 on the results of UWB testing. For the study, NTIA collected 25 UWB devices from several manufacturers and tested them against three systems—air route surveillance radar, airport surveillance radar and the air traffic control beacon system.

"Our conclusion based on these tests is that there is a potential to operate ultra-wideband devices in the 3 GHz to 6 GHz range," NTIA administrator Gregory Rohde said.

NTIA officials noted that the study did not include any policy conclusions and said that the technology is still undergoing testing against the Global Positioning System.

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

UWB advocates have claimed, and the NTIA study appears to confirm, that the ultra-wideband signal bursts can cross frequencies without causing interference.

The test results were due to be made public last November but were delayed because the tests did not get started on time. Officials said in November that funding for the tests was not released on time, and some vendors and government agencies were slow to deliver test equipment.

Ultra-wideband technology has the promise of further expanding wireless communications, advocates say.

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