Ultra-wideband, the technology set to replace USB and Bluetooth with fast wireless connections, has been granted a formal ISO standard, drawing a line under years of argument and encouraging faster delivery of UWB products.

"It's an important milestone for a lot of big companies that rely on and participate in ISO and IEEE standards." Said Mark Bowles, co-founder and marketing vice president of UWB silicon vendor Staccato. "An ISO standard is the mother-ship of standards."

UWB products will be aimed at consumers, but will benefit business by allowing faster transfers to and from laptops and wireless-enabled devices. "It's mostly consumer technology, because corporate buyers are a lot less aggressive," said Bowles.

ISO has approved the MAC (medium access control) and PHY (physical layer) defined by the Wimedia industry group, and which has already been adopted by standards group ECMA. ISO is publishing the WiMedia specification as ISO (International Organization for Standardization)/IEC 26907.

The European Commission has approved UWB for use on Europe's airwaves, and given European countries six months to amend their national laws to enable it.

"Six products will make up 90 percent of the revenue in UWB," said Bowles. "Dongles and hubs, laptops, external storage and DVD players, printers, digital still cameras and personal media players." He expects them to appear more or less in the order he mentioned them, with a camera appearing by the end of this year and media players in 2008.

Although UWB will be the next generation of Bluetooth, it won't appear in phones until 2008, he said: "It's a harder bar to limbo under in terms of power consumptions and form factor." Staccato is set to provide a handset for a service announced by SK Telecom in Korea, and due to arrive in 2008.

WiMedia took its specification ECMA when the IEEE's standards process for UWB broke down as it fought with a rival technology backed by silicon vendor Freescale which fizzled out last year.