If you are eager to clear away the tangle of wires connecting PCs, printers and other devices in your offices and replace it with wireless technology, the wait may be longer than you think.
According to some in Congress, the delay results partly from federal regulators uncommonly strong deference to the White Houses telecommunications arm when it comes to the emerging wireless technology known as UWB, or ultrawideband.
Lawmakers overseeing telecom policy grilled Federal Communications Commission representatives last week on the FCCs decision to restrict the use of UWB—a decision that was based largely on concerns cited by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (an agency within the Department of Commerce) that the technology could interfere with military communications. In issuing the decision, the FCC said the limits may be "overprotective" and could unnecessarily constrain advancement of UWB.
According to Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., one of the more vocal critics of the FCCs UWB approval process, government bureaucrats and some people in industry have tried to stifle the technology.
"Ultrawideband technology terrified some people because it was different," Tauzin said at a hearing of the House telecommunications subcommittee last week. "Whether it was out of competitive concerns or because the technology created intentional emissions, ultrawideband has been met with the fiercest resistance of any technology in recent memory."
There are many proposed uses for UWB, including automotive radar and ground-penetrating radar, but the earliest commercial application will likely be personal area networking, which will allow businesses to connect PCs with a variety of devices without using wires. Some of the largest electronics companies, including Motorola Corp., Sony Corp. and Intel Corp., are supporting international standards initiatives for UWB.
Developers of UWB, who have been seeking regulatory approval for 13 years, are frustrated with the foot dragging and apparent policy disconnect between the FCC and NTIA. NTIA and the Department of Defense want more time to test the interference impact of commercial UWB deployment before it is given broad approval. Representatives from the DOD and NTIA cited the war on terrorism and homeland defense at last weeks hearing in cautioning lawmakers on the need for more testing.