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Faster and more secure wireless USB to compete with Bluetooth

Antony Savvas
A more secure rival to the Bluetooth short-range wireless connectivity standard is expected next year with the arrival of wireless USB.

As its name implies, the technology provides simple plug-and-play connectivity to office environments.

There is only basic security protection in the Bluetooth standard, but Intel, which plans to launch the first wireless USB chips by the middle of 2005, wants wireless USB to include the 128-bit advanced encryption standard.

Wireless USB will operate at up to 480mbps over 3m, line of sight, and at lower speeds over 10m. This is many times faster than Bluetooth which allows data to be sent at up to 700kbps over 10m.

It seems to have a brighter future than Bluetooth, since Ericsson, one of its most ardent advocates, recently announced it was disbanding its Bluetooth development team.

With Bluetooth, in a standard configuration, devices are allowed to "discover" other enabled devices and use some or all of the functionality of that device, whether it is a another PC, printer or phone.

There are obviously security issues to be considered with this type of networking, and this is what Intel wants wireless USB to address, as well as providing greater data speeds.

Brad Hosler, Intel's wireless USB architect, said he would expect a wireless USB host to check the access privileges of a client device before granting access for the first time.

Version 1.0 of wireless USB is expected to be released before the end of this year.

The wireless USB standard is backed by Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Philips and Samsung.

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