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Comms chips

UWB Gets Intel Inside

Intel Capital has invested an undisclosed amount of cash from its $200 million "Digital Home Fund" in two ultra-wideband (UWB) startups: Staccato Communications Inc. and Wisair Ltd. (see Intel Invests in UWB).

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is already deeply involved in the nascent UWB market through its membership in the MultiBand OFDM Alliance (MBOA). The MBOA backs one of the two standards competing to be the standard of choice for UWB high-speed, short-range wireless data technology.

For its part, Intel Capital deliberately targets new sectors in which its parent company is involved, as a way to stimulate the growth of those markets (see How Intel Gets Inside).

Lately, a lot of that investment has been in the wireless sector, with the launch of a $150 million fund for wireless LAN startups in 2002 and the more recent $200 million Digital Home Fund, which is concerned with bringing whiz-bang wireless and multimedia tech to an overpriced hovel near you...real soon (see Intel's WiFi Wad and Intel's Dream Home).

Intel Capital never reveals how much it invests in startups such as Staccato and Wisair, but sources have informed Unstrung in the past that $10 million or less is the order of the day.

Both Staccato and Wisair are developing UWB products –- based on the MBOA specification -– that should be capable of delivering wireless data transfer speeds of at least 110 Mbit/s over a distance of 10 meters.

Staccato, formerly known as Discrete Time Communications, is developing UWB chipsets using standard CMOS silicon building blocks -- i.e., the stuff found in your garden-variety Pentium processor -- rather than more expensive dedicated radio frequency components. The firm recently scored $20 million in a second round of VC funding (see Staccato Raises $20M).

Wisair, part of Israel's RAD Group, recently claimed that it had introduced the first radio transceiver that complies with the MBOA specification for ultra-wideband (see Wisair Intros MB-OFDM Chip).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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