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Wireless USB is Coming to a PC Near You

After two years of promises, and a few false starts, it finally looks like Wireless USB products will hit the market in 2007, according to an In-Stat market study.

The first products to arrive by the middle of this year should be dongle and wireless hub pairs that will bring standardized wireless connectivity to notebook and desktop PCs, PC peripherals, and consumer electronics.

As with wired USB, PCs will adopt Wireless USB first, before the technology spreads out to the rest of the PC ecosystem. Wireless USB, or more properly Certified Wireless USB, is a standard that was approved and is governed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the same body responsible for Wired USB.

Certified Wireless USB is based on the WiMedia version of Ultrawideband (UWB). WiMedia's UWB flavor is in turn based on multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM), which allows for frequency-hopping to avoid interference with other wireless protocols within UWB wide frequency spectrum of 3.1 - 10.6 GHz.

According to In-stat, the quest to develop Wireless USB solutions has created a few casualties along the way. Freescale Semiconductor, which was marketing its own version of Direct Sequence (DS) UWB technology for its own Cable-Free USB standard, was unable to offer UWB chips economically enough to meet its customers requirements. The company has ended its Cable-Free USB efforts, while its DS-UWB effort remains up in the air.

The next step in the evolution of Certified Wireless USB will be integration into PCs, as well as PC peripherals and consumer electronics. This will replace dongles and wireless hubs with integrated, or in-the-box solutions. A few notebook PCs will ship with integrated solutions by the end of 2007.

A few printers and digital cameras will ship with integrated Wireless USB by the end of the year as well. Wireless USB will serve as a differentiating feature for these higher-end devices. Overall, In-Stat expects explosive growth for Wireless USB devices, with annual shipments increasing at over 250 percent per year between 2007 and 2011, though starting from a very small base in 2007.

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