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The central challenge of ultra-wideband (UWB) radio is to overcome its intrinsic complexity. This paper argues for the use of high-speed sampling and a front-end FFT as the paradigm of choice for robust performance and low energy consumption in certain ultra-wideband designs. Assuming the need to approach optimal performance, it highlights the complexity advantage of frequency domain (FD) over time domain processing. Anechoic chamber and realistically propagated indoor UWB measurements, combined with simulated noise and interference, are used to illustrate FD techniques for initial synchronization and estimation of channel response.