Bluetooth spec booming

Imagine going to a meeting with your cell phone in your briefcase and your notebook computer in tow. You open the computer and, without plugging in to anything, begin receiving e-mail. In the meeting, you also receive files from others in the room without receiving e-mail messages, or you send files without e-mail.

All of this is possible through a revolutionary radio chip developed through a collaboration of the computing and communications industries, code-named Bluetooth.

Bluetooth also is the official name of a specification that has become the fastest-growing technology standard ever. It is a specification for wireless technology, a global standard that enables devices to communicate with each other using a secure radio frequency.

Bluetooth-enabled portable computers, mobile phones, office equipment, household appliances and more can communicate at short ranges without the burden of cables — securely, inexpensively, at a high rate of data transmission and without line-of-sight requirements.

World leaders in mobile technology — IBM Corp., Ericsson, Nokia Corp., Intel Corp. and Toshiba — in 1998 created the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to further Bluetooth as a global standard.

The Bluetooth device is a small, low-powered radio on a chip that communicates with other Bluetooth-enabled products. Bluetooth technology uses the 2.4-GHz radio band, which is unlicensed and available almost worldwide. It supports data speeds of up to 721 kilobits/sec (including a 56 kilobits/sec back channel) and three voice channels.

Up to eight users or devices can communicate in a small network called a piconet. Ten of these piconets can coexist in the same coverage range of the Bluetooth radio. To provide security, each link is encoded and protected against eavesdropping and interference.

Network administrators face a challenge if an enterprise has wireless local-area network deployed and wants to use Bluetooth piconets. The Bluetooth technology and wireless LANs may interfere with each other. Bluetooth piconets must be placed within a larger wireless LAN to minimize such interference.

— For more information about enterprise networking, go to Network World Fusion at www.nwfusion.com. Story copyright 2000 Network World Inc. All rights reserved.

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