Wisair Connects With $20M

The future of ultrawideband (UWB) standards for short-range wireless connectivity might be up in the air (ha!) after the dissolution of the 802.15.3a Task Group, but there’s plenty of money out there for UWB firms. (See Marketplace Left to Define UWB.)

The latest beneficiary is UWB and wireless USB developer Wisair Ltd. , which has raised $20 million in its Series C round of funding. Investors included funds advised by Apax Partners , Bynet Data Communications Ltd. , Intel Capital , RAD Group (which includes RAD Data Communications Ltd. ), Vertex Venture Holdings , and new investor Tomen Electronics Corp..

Using high performance RF-to-digital conversion techniques, UWB can transmit large amounts of data over several channels very quickly. It’s slowly making its way into the home and office as a way to unwire electronics devices, and has potential for RFID tagging and location applications in the enterprise.

Tel Aviv-based Wisair claims more than 80 customers -– mostly in consumer electronics -- for its reference designs and development kits, and plans to use the cash to begin shipment of its dual-chip platform, which combines an RF transceiver chip with a MAC/Baseband chip.

The round brings total VC investment in Wisair to $40 million. Its last funding round was in October 2003 when it raised $15.5 million. (See UWB Attracts VC Cash.)

After a lull in activity for most of last year, UWB companies have come out of the woodwork of late.

Wisair introduced a wireless USB reference design last month, while Staccato Communications Inc. , which has developed a single-chip product, recently raised $18 million in its third round of financing, having launched its European operations. (See Wisair Unveils Wireless USB, Staccato Raises $18M, and Staccato Launches in Europe.) That follows Alereon Inc. bagging $20 million in Series B to help get its chips into production this quarter. (See UWB Startup Gets VC Bump.)

The three companies announced last month that their products had successfully completed interoperability testing. (See Alereon, Staccato, Wisair Interop.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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