Why USB Isn’t Wireless?

Keyboards, cryptocurrency wallets, and even those little Nerd turrets you can employ to ward off your coworkers are all connected by USB.

Why then hasn’t it just gone completely wireless when it has so many straightforward, widely used applications?

It turns out that there was an attempt to do that back in the mid-2000s. The goal of the Wireless USB official standard was to provide a wide range of gadgets that would only function with PCs that already have wireless USB transponders built-in.

We are not discussing the usage of a dongle, where the USB signal is handled by the dongle rather than the device you are trying to use, such as a mouse.

This was meant to be native. Wireless USB was designed to be as close as possible to wired USB, just without the wires. The protocols over which the signals were sent were very similar to how traditional USB communicates.

Why USB Isn’t Wireless?


It goes without saying that wireless transmission is almost always slower than a cable alternative. If you don’t trust me, just compare your home Wi-Fi to a computer connected through the Internet.

When the first wireless USB products debuted on the market in 2007, they were expected to offer speed that was quite comparable to USB 2.0, the most popular USB iteration.

It could only go as fast as 480 megabits per second. at a distance of three meters, the same as USB 2.

For our American friends, that is 10 feet. However, it would still continue to function at up to 110 megabits from a distance of 10 meters, allowing you to still connect to a peripheral in a different room, such as a printer. 

Even a straight line of sight between the linked devices wasn’t necessary for wireless USB. Thanks to the fact that I chose a relatively low frequency—similar to Wi-Fi—that could pass through objects and walls.

A wireless future appeared guaranteed with several major industry giants working to make this new untangled world a reality, including HP, Intel, Samsung, and Microsoft, but it never materialized.

What You Should Be Aware of?

Wireless USB arrived late to the wireless party, which was likely the main factor in its failure. Even though the industry began developing the standard in 2004, device manufacturers needed authorization from the communications authorities to utilize certain frequencies.

Additionally, the approval procedure took some time, as is typical of government bureaucracy. By the time wireless USB devices began to emerge at that time, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth had mostly taken care of the convenience they were designed to offer.

Consider the case of our printer. Why do you need wireless USB when you can just connect your printer to a Wi-Fi network with a far wider range?

Or, let’s assume you’re attempting to connect an Intel WiDi-enabled wireless display. It also employed Wi-Fi Direct, as suggested by the name, which eventually developed to enable higher rates at farther distances than wireless USB could.

Another technology that was promoted as having potential for storage was wireless USB.

But regrettably, it also came out at a time when internet-connected cloud storage was beginning to take off, and people were more interested in having their smartphones sync their photos with the cloud or upload them to social media than in fiddling with actually storing them on their own hard drives.

Final Conclusion on Why USB Isn’t Wireless?

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