Intel Outlines Wireless USB Security

Hosler, speaking at Intel's second annual R&D Day event, says the company wants Wireless USB to replace USB for very short-range networks. Companies want to make it as widespread in the home and office as USB is today, he says. Wireless can be snooped, so assuring privacy and security are essential to achieve this goal, he adds.

"Because it's wireless, anyone can hear it. With USB, it's a cable, so it's inherently private. Our goal is to provide Wireless USB with the same level of security," Hosler says.

People may have several options about activating a connection. For example, to upload pictures from their camera to their PC, users could press a button on the camera, which would then connect to the host. The Wireless USB connection between device and host could be automatic. If a switched-on device is within range of the host, it will alert the user, asking if they want to connect.

More Range, Another Standard

Intel wants Wireless USB networks to interface with the Ultra Wideband (UWB)standard to make networks that cover whole households.

The Wireless USB specification is for 480mbps (bits per second) transfer speed over distances of about three meters. It will work at lower speeds up to a distance of about 10 meters. UWB is designed to work at a similar speed up to 10 meters distance.

Wireless USB is backed by the Wireless USB Promoter Group, formed this February. The member companies are Agere Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, Philips, and Samsung. "Wireless USB has got the weight of the industry behind it," he says.

The situation for UWB is more complex because there are two competing standards. Intel backs the Multiband OFDM Alliance. This group's UWB technology works on more than one band. Motorola leads the other group. The conflict between the groups has yet to be resolved.

The Wireless USB chips will be ready by the middle of 2005. First products will be in shops at year-end. The Wireless USB Promoter Group will launch its public Web page on Nov.1 with details of a preliminary standard, he says.

The definitive version 1.0 standard will be available before the end of 2004, according to Intel.

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