Bluetooth Kicking into High Speed

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has proposed a new version of Bluetooth that will offer faster transfer speeds while using less power.

The current version of this short-range wireless networking standard is popular in Europe and is starting to catch on in the U.S., but it is running into bottlenecks when users connect multiple peripherals to a single device. There are also applications for which Bluetooth is unsuitable because of its current relatively slow data transfer rate.

Bluetooth EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) will be significantly faster than Bluetooth 1.2. It will offer data transfer speeds up to 2.1 Mbps, which is about three times faster than the 721 kbps Bluetooth now offers. This means that a 1 MB file that takes 12 seconds to download with the current version will take only 4 seconds to download over Bluetooth EDR.

Bluetooth Logo Fortunately, devices using the upcoming standard will be backwards compatible with other Bluetooth standards. It will still use the same methods for linking devices and transferring packets as the current version, but it allows more data to be stored in each packet.

This increase in speed doesn’t mean that using Bluetooth will require more power. In fact, the opposite is true. The next generation of Bluetooth devices should to last up to twice the current operating time.

The Bluetooth SIG expects the EDR specification to be finalized in fall 2004, with products based upon the specification available in 2005.

A Bluetooth Milestone

Though Bluetooth had a somewhat rocky launch, it would be difficult to assert that this wireless networking standard is anything less than successful now. The Bluetooth SIG has announced that shipments of products with the technology now exceed two million units per week worldwide.

“Bluetooth wireless technology is definitively moving into the consumer mainstream with more than 150 million units shipped so far and shipments now running at more than two million units a week,” said Stuart Carlaw, senior Bluetooth analyst with IMS Research.

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