Microwave Journal

Ultra-wideband Devices Finally Hitting Store Shelves

December 12, 2007

According to In-Stat, after years of promises, Ultra-wideband (UWB) devices are finally here. Based on short range, high data rate radio technology, most early UWB-enabled devices deliver in the range of 40 to 100 Mbps, with future devices delivering much higher speeds.

The first UWB device to hit the market was a Toshiba R400S4834 notebook PC and docking station. The two devices connect wirelessly using a UWB chip solution provided by start-up WiQuest. Lenovo also launched UWB in its T61 notebook and Dell has recently launched UWB in its Inspiron line of notebooks. UWB backers hope that these PC design wins lead to a UWB ecosystem that encompasses not only PCs, but PC peripherals, consumer electronics (CE) and mobile devices.

While notebooks with embedded UWB are great, what about the millions of PCs already in homes and businesses across the world without UWB? These devices can jump on the UWB bandwagon through hub and dongle solutions. The UWB dongle connects to the PC’s USB port and connects wirelessly to the UWB hub. The UWB hub, in turn, connects via USB cables to peripherals such as printers and multifunction devices, as well as CE devices, including digital still cameras and portable media players. Belkin, IOGear and D-Link hub and dongle solutions are currently available for prices as low as $150. Hub and dongle solutions represent an intermediate step between a world of USB cables and a world of embedded wireless connectivity in PCs and devices that connect to PCs.

UWB radio technology in turn can support a number of standards. UWB serves as the basis for the Certified Wireless USB and high data Bluetooth specifications. The certified Wireless USB standard has been approved and is the basis for the hub and dongle solutions hitting the market. The specification for high data rate Bluetooth, also referred to as Bluetooth 3.0, should be completed in 2008, with devices hitting the market by the second half of 2009. Other UWB standards and technologies include IP over UWB (also known variously as WiNet, WLP or WXP), and video over UWB.

The future of UWB devices is fairly bright. The next few years will be spent seeding the PC and PC peripheral marketplace with UWB enabled devices, with CE and mobile devices hitting the market in late 2009 and 2010. Overall, UWB-enabled devices should see abundant growth through 2011.

In-Stat is a provider of actionable research, market analysis and aforecasts of advanced communications services, infrastructure, end-user devices and semiconductors. Visit www.instat.com for more information.