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This paper presents a simple and effective wideband method for the determination of material properties, such as the complex index of refraction and the complex permittivity and permeability. The method is explicit (noniterative) and reference-plane invariant: it uses a certain combination of scattering parameters in conjunction with group-velocity data. This technique can be used to characterize both dielectric and magnetic materials. The proposed method is verified experimentally within a frequency range between 2-18 GHz on polytetrafluoroethylene and polyvinylchloride samples. A comprehensive error and stability analysis reveals that, similar to other methods based on transmission/reflection measurement, the uncertainties are larger at low frequencies and at the Fabry-Perot resonances.