More Money for Ultra-wideband Startups

I was home yesterday with a sick toddler, so when I noticed the $18 million Series C funding for ultra-wideband chipmaker Tzero Technologies, I was powerless to blog it. Anytime the computer comes out, my daughter wants to hit YouTube for her favorite Teletubbies and Dan Zanes clips, so no WordPress for me.

But it was a development worth noting, even a day later. Tzero’s funding follows on the heels of $24 million for Wisair last week. Although the hefty amounts aren’t a surprise (these are, after all, chip startups), the belief by their investors that UWB is still going to be a large market is. So far, I’m not convinced.

The technology promised life without wires, offering mouth-watering examples of TVs, camcorders and DVD players all wirelessly streaming video, but so far the only products on the market are Wireless USB hubs that connect my computer to my printer at speeds far below the promised 480 mbps. I already do that over a Wi-Fi network, so color me (and several other critics) unimpressed.

Although high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, an area in which Tzero is making strides, hold promise, competitive technologies such as WirelessHD and even Wi-Fi are gaining ground. Printing a document in one minute vs. two isn’t that compelling of a value proposition, and while Tzero, WiQuest and Radiospire Networks are pushing HD video as a viable end market, that’s not a done deal, either. Ultra-wideband took a long time to get to market, and other wireless standards are catching up, so I’m not sure if consumers will demand it — even as speeds improve.