Monday, February 11, 2008

Bluetooth hops on the Wi-Fi bus

The bus to the ultrawidband nirvana of Gbit/s+ data rates is taking too long. So the Bluetooth SIG has opted to use the transport independent version of it protocol ride 802.11 as well.

That version of Bluetooth won’t even be available to members until mid-2009, which begs the question of why the group announced this now. My guess is they are trying to hold off interest in other technologies such as 60 GHz radios which had quite a coming out at CES for wired systems. Academics are already working hot and heavy on versions of 60 GHz technology suitable for mobile devices.

Another interesting wrinkle is that the group is only looking to support .11abg and .11n support is not even on the road map for now. That seems to conflict with the stated goal of getting quickly to higher bandwidth, but perhaps broad adoption is a bigger driver than the highest possible speed.

The news amounts to one more sock in the gut for UWB. The wireless USB version has been dogged by low data rates. Regulatory issues mean OEMs need to have different configurations for different markets. Meanwhile design wins have been more a trickle of experiments than the predicted flood.

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