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Wiggins, LaQuita

December 2006
DTEC 6810

Ultra-wideband Technology: Catholic University of America,

The Revolution is Here Gerald F. Ross and K.W. Robins
at Sperry Rand Corporation, and
ABSTRACT Paul van Etten at the United
States Air Force (USAF) Rome
Ultra-wideband is a radio Air Development Center. The
technology that has been technology was restricted to
explored since the early 1960s. military and Department of
With new regulations and Defense applications from the
technological advancements it is 1960s to the 1990s. In 1989
now poised for used in the Department of Defense
advanced communications and coined the term ultra-wideband
radar applications. [1].
The 2003 FCC ruling
releasing the 3.6-10.1 GHz
bandwidth at the noise floor [2],
Ultra-wideband (UWB) is along with advances in
an emerging wireless radio microprocessing and fast
technology. UWB gains its switching in semiconductor
name from its operation over a technology have transformed
wide range of frequency UWB into a promising
spectrum, greater than 500 MHz technology with a myriad of
or 20% of the center frequency possible uses.
according to FCC and ITU-R
definitions. This vast bandwidth UWB Systems Technical
is used instantaneously by low Details
power, ultra short-pulses to
carry information. UWB can be divided into
Technological advances, new two main implementations:
regulations, the unique impulse UWB (I-UWB) and
properties of UWB signals multicarrier UWB (MC-UWB). I-
combine to catapult this UWB is a single band
technology in revolutionary implementation that using ultra-
communications and radar short pulses to convey
applications. information across the entire
available spectrum. MC-UWB is
History of UWB a multiband implementation
that uses multiple simultaneous
As with most technology, carriers [3]. I will now briefly
there are many and overlapping discuss the most prominent
origins. UWB as we know it implementation of each form.
today can be traced back to the
work of several groups in the
1960s, Henning F. Harmuth at
Wiggins, LaQuita
December 2006
DTEC 6810

Direct-Sequence UWB 480 Mbps. Devices have a

range of up 20 m and transmit
DS-UWB is a single band powers range from 15 W while
implementation. A single pulse in sleep mode to 145 mW at
representing data is sent over 480 Mbps [6].
the entire spectrum. BPSK
modulation, time domain signal Advantages and
processing and DSSS Disadvantages of UWB
techniques and RAKE receivers
are used [4]. These pulses may The ultra-short
occur in one of two spectra, 3.1 waveforms, in the nanoscale
GHz - 4.85 GHz or 6.2 GHz - 9.7 range, that UWB systems use
GHz. Depending on the offer several advantages. They
parameters selected, DS-UWB offer the enhanced ability to
radios can achieve a data rate penetrate through obstacles,
between 55 Mbps to 1.32 Gbps opening up possible uses such
in the 3.1 GHz band, or 55 Mbps as radar imaging. They have
to 2 Gbps in the 6.2 GHz band. fine precision ranging at the
DS-UWB devices have a 10 m or centimeter level opening up
better range in multipath possible uses such as
environments for 110 Mbps and positioning and tracking. They
a total transmit power of about have the potential for high data
1/10 mW [5]. rates in multi-user networks
opening up possible uses such
MB-OFDM UWB as high speed networking.
Transmitting in short pulses
Multi-Band Orthogonal decreases interference because
Frequency Division Multiplexing the signals do not last long
is a multiband implementation. enough to interfere with other
The spectrum from 3.1 GHz to signals. Ultra-short UWB waves
10.6 Ghz is divided into 14 also require limited processing
bands, each with a 528 MHz power. The use of low power
bandwidth. Each band has 110 waves allow UWB systems to
subcarriers. Information working in tandem with existing
carrying signals hop across the systems and makes them
bands every 312.5 ns, with a difficult to intercept. UWB
9.5 ns guard in-between hops. signals have a resistant to
QPSK modulation and time- jamming because of the vast
domain and frequency-domain range of frequencies used by
processing in the receiver are UWB. UWB systems are
used. MB-OFDM supports data potentially low-cost because
rates of 53.3 Mbps, 80 Mbps, they use carrierless
106.7 Mbps, 160 Mbps, 200 transmissions which mean they
Mbps, 320 Mbps, 400 Mbps and can be designed with simple
Wiggins, LaQuita
December 2006
DTEC 6810

hardware or nearly all digital. UWB receivers are subject

In addition, a single system can to long synchronization times
be adapted to multiple uses, and must be complex enough to
from communications to radar handle the multipath rich
and positioning. channels inherent to the short
UWB systems have pulse signals used by UWB
considerable real and possible systems. UWB antennas also
disadvantages that must be pose an engineering challenge
addressed in order to build real- due to the unique demands and
world applications. UWB shares challenges of UWB systems.
a wide swath of bandwidth with Carrierless systems must rely
other RF technologies, which on complex signal processing
means there is potential techniques to recover data from
interference, both from and to noisy environments. Channel
existing systems (See Table 1). characterization, an essential
part of communications systems
Systems Possibly Degraded by Ultra design, is difficult in UWB
Wideband systems because of wide
Name Frequency bandwidth and reduced signal
Distance Measuring energy [7] [8].
Airborne receivers 960-1215 MHz
Ground transponders 1025-1150 MHz Regulation and
Air Traffic Control
Radio Beacon System
Ground receivers 1090 MHz In addition to physical
Airborne transponders 1030 MHz limitations, UWB faces many
Air Route Surveillance 1240-1400 MHz regulatory hurdles related to
licensing. The FCC allocated
Search and Rescue 1544-1545 MHz
Satellite Land User spectrum for UWB in 2002 along
Terminals with power limitations that
Airport Surveillance 2700-2900 MHz influence UWB system design.
Radar The FCC allows UWB
Next Generation 2700-3000 MHz
communication in the 3.1 to
Weather Radar
10.6 GHz band, with a -10 dB
bandwidth greater than 500
Maritime 2900-3100 MHz
Radionavigation Radar MHz, and a maximum
equivalent isotropic radiated
Global Positioning power (EIRP) spectral density of
Satellite Receivers -41.3 dBm/Mhz. The timeline in
Link 1 1575 +/- 12 MHz Figure 1 outlines the progress of
Link 2 1227 +/- 12 MHz FCC regulations. The European
Link 5 1176 +/- 12 MHz Communications Committee and
Japanese regulatory bodies both
Table 1 released regulations earlier this
Wiggins, LaQuita
December 2006
DTEC 6810

Figure 1

year. Technology is expected to agreed upon, TG3a called it

take off faster in the US quits and dissolved without
because Japan and Europe agreeing on a standard in
require interference mitigation January 2006. The two groups
schemes referred to as detect promised to continue to grow
and avoid (DAA). DAA and the UWB market; ironically,
other developing specifications many think the dissolution of
will remain a factor in UWB TG3a will speed up the
development. development of UWB products.
Standards battles also WiMedia Alliance supported MB-
threaten UWB technology. Two OFDM was standardized by
opposing groups began battling international standards group
on the best implementation ECMA in December 2005 and is
shortly after the FCC first expected to be standardized by
allocated unlicensed spectrum ISO very soon. In addition,
for UWB, single band or Bluetooth SIG has selected MB-
multiband. In January 2003 the OFDM. The UWB Forum
IEEE formed the IEEE 802.15.3a continues to support DS-UWB.
task group (TG3a) to define the We can expect products on the
physical layer for high data rate market from both groups this
short range applications. The year.
groups biggest success IEEE 802.15.4a, a task
occurred in a May 2003 meeting group for low data rate short
when it narrowed down 23 range applications is also
physical specifications into two considering a version of I-UWB.
proposals: MB-OFDM UWB,
supported by the WiMedia Applications
Alliance, and DS-UWB supported
by the UWB Forum. After two As mentioned earlier,
and a half years of trying to UWB has many communications
reach a standard both groups and radars applications.
Wiggins, LaQuita
December 2006
DTEC 6810

Engineers are challenged to market to determine which one

create products that balance of these technologies dominates
high data rates, low power wireless USB [9].
demands, performance and High speed Bluetooth is
cost. In communications another budding UWB WPAN. It
various WPAN implementations, will use WiMedia UWB with the
such as wireless USB, are most promise of reaching multimedia
promising. Each of the major speeds. Imagine downloading
players in the UWB game have hundreds of photos in seconds
their own implementation, or wirelessly downloading
Belkin CableFree USB, which movies from an airport kiosk.
Freescale Semiconductor and its Expect market entry in 2008.
partners promote, and Certified Ultra Vision Security
Wireless USB, which the Systems is leading UWB product
WiMedia Alliance and the USB development in the search and
Implementers Forum (USB-IF) rescue realm. Its portable
promote. CableFree USB units LifeLocater system has
were shipped in July 2006, stationary sensors that use UWB
coincidentally these were also signals to detect moving
the first UWB products objects. It can detect and
introduced into the US market. locate motion, even breathing,
In September 2006 USB-IF through debris and dense
announced a certification materials in as little as 30
program, allowing seconds. The use of UWB
manufacturers to gain signals gives this system better
certification by building products object penetration, motion
to its specifications. Products resolution, and distance
should hit the market soon. measurement [10].
Both groups aim to replace the The 2006 Mercedes S-
USB cable by providing secure Class uses 24 GHz short range
high speed, short range UWB radar as part of its driver
communications, like USB but assistant systems. Elapsed time
without the cables. Data rates of pulsed signals is used to
of 480 Mbps should be reached detect objects within 0.2 to 30
at distances up to 30 feet. m. It can detect and track up to
Unfortunately CableFree devices 10 objects with a range
and Certified Wireless USB accuracy of 7.5 cm [11].
devices cannot communicate LifeWave has developed a
with each other. Surprisingly, patent pending UWB medical
this hurdle for UWB technology radar. UWB signals are
is not to be blamed on the transmitted into the body and
different radio implementations reflected off of tissues and
each uses, but on protocol organs. Signal processing is
differences. We can expect the used to determine information
Wiggins, LaQuita
December 2006
DTEC 6810

communications: Pioneers and

about tissue size, location and innovators in Proc. Progress in
movement. The images gained Electromagnetics Symposium,
Cambridge, MA 2000.
are not distorted by bone and 2. L. Yang and G.B. Giannakis, Ultra-
air cavities such as the lungs as wideband communications: an idea
whose time has come in IEEE Signal
in other imaging systems. Processing Mag., vol 21, no. 6, pp. 26-
Direct skin contact is not 54, Nov. 2004.
3. J.H. Reed, Introduction to Ultra
required and information can be Wideband Communications Systems.
collected through clothes and New Jersey: Prentice Hall PTR, 2005.
4. F. Nekoogar, Introduction to Ultra
bedding. The radar will be Wideband Communication:
inexpensive and low power, Fundamentals and Applications. New
Jersey: Prentice Hall PTR, 2005.
making it ideal for portable 5. IEEE 802.15.3a Updated DS-UWB
applications [12]. Proposal Specification, IEEE 802.15
Working Group for WPANs, July 2004.
6. ECMA, [4] ECMA, "Standard ECMA-
The Future 368:High Rate Ultra Wideband PHY and
MAC Standard," Dec. 2005,
Home audio systems and
PCs without the confusing and 7. L.E. Miller, Why UWB? A Review of
messy cables and even more Ultra Wideband Technology April 2003.
tech savvy cell phones are the /manet/NIST_UWB_Report_April03.pdf
promise of UWB. Some people 8. D. Iyengar, Understanding ultra
wideband technology: Advantages,
question whether UWB really applications, and regulatory policy,
will impact consumer life. A M.A. Thesis, Tufts University, May
better question is when? There 9. R.A. Quinnell, Clash of the wireless-
is a definite demand for the USB standards in EDN, September 1,
2006. [Online]:
applications that can be
developed using UWB. UWB =article&articleid=CA6363903&spacede
also has a unique edge over 10. UltraVision Security Systems, Inc. 10
competing technologies in its December 2006. <>
low cost and low power model. 11. J. Wenger, Automotive radar-status
Unfortunately early regulatory and perspectives in Compound
Semiconductor Integrated Circuit
division has split UWB Symposium, 2005.
implementers down the middle. 12. LifeWave. 10 December 2006.
Countries around the world
have been reluctant to release
radio spectrum for UWB use.
The consequential lack of an
universal standard must be
addressed so consumers can
reap the benefits of this
powerful technology.


1. T. W. Barrett, History of ultra

wideband (UWB) radar &