RealTime IT News

First UWB Hub Ships in Japan

Wisair and Y-E Data earlier this month announced the launch of Y-E Data’s YD-300 four-port ultrawideband hub, which is based on Wisair’s chipset and reference design. The product has been certified by TELEC (Telecom Engineering Center), Japan’s wireless certification organization. It’s the first ultrawideband hub product to be certified in Japan, and the first to be launched commercially.

The four-port hub is intended as a seamless replacement for any wired USB connection to a device like a printer, scanner, external hard drive or digital camera. Any such device can be attached to one of the four ports on the hub, which then transmits data wirelessly to a dongle attached to the USB port on the user’s PC.

This week, Belkin won Popular Science Magazine’s Best of What’s New 2006 award for its Cable-Free USB Hub, a similar four-port hub designed for the U.S. market that also uses Wisair’s chipset. The different between Belkin’s and Y-E Data’s solutions, though, is that Belkin’s isn’t yet commercially available.

Why the delay? Belkin had initially selected Freescale Semiconductor’s UWB chipset for their hub, which proved to have been a mistake. Freescale decided to leave the UWB business. “Because we had to change chipset manufacturers for this product, we had to push back the availability,” a Belkin spokesperson says. “But we are confident that it will be ready mid-December 2006.”

Similarly, D-Link last month announced plans to offer a similar solution in the first quarter of 2007, based on tech from Intel, NEC and Realtek.

y-e-data-hubAmir Freund, Wisair’s vice president of marketing, says the release of the YD-300 is the result of his company’s efforts in cooperation with a number of different partners to bring a commercial UWB hub solution to market. And in addition to the fact that it’s the first UWB hub on the market, Freund says the TELEC certification is a crucial milestone.

The requirements for certification in Japan, Freund says, are far more restrictive than they are in the U.S. – including more limited allocation of frequency bands, as well as detect-and-avoid requirements – making Wisair’s success in that arena all the more noteworthy. “We were the first company to pass the testing and to show that a real product based on UWB can be deployed in the Japanese market,” he says.

Freund says Wisair’s hope is that this is just the beginning – the company expects that other Asian countries will follow the Japanese model in implementing regulatory requirements for UWB. “We expect that to happen, for example, in Korea, so this is very important in terms of encouraging the market to be open in Asia,” he says.

And if a UWB device can be certified in Japan, Freund says, it’s acceptable on the other side of the Pacific as well. “Any UWB device that is certified in Japan can interoperate with a device that is certified in the USA,” he says. “So it allows for interoperability between the two regions – the same chipset can support both regulations.”

Freund says Wisair’s chipset supports speeds ranging from 53 Mbps to 480 Mbps, depending on the protocol, the devices attached, and the distance (53 Mbps at 30 meters to 480 Mbps at six meters). “You get very decent performance – and it can support many different types of devices and give a user experience which is identical to the one that is achieved by a cable,” he says.

The arrival of products from companies like Y-E Data, Belkin and D-Link, Freund says, is a good sign for everyone involved in ultrawideband. “Overall, the industry is making a significant move by starting to introduce different products to the market and really making UWB and Wireless USB happen,” he says. “I think that 2007 will be a very interesting year in terms of introducing new solutions.”