How Bluetooth got as fast as Wi-Fi

bluetoothBluetooth last week stopped being chained to the low-power, low-throughput radio that has been both its strength and its weakness. New code lets Bluetooth applications now run over 802.11g wireless connections in the 2.4GHz, with a throughput jump to 20M to 24Mbps, from 1M to 3Mbps.

We talked to one of the key creators of this bit of wizardy: Kevin Hayes, a technical fellow with Atheros Communications, who has worked in m ore than a dozen task groups around the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN standard, and in Wi-Fi Alliance projects such as Wi-Fi Protected Access.

Hayes was the technical editor for the 802.11 Protocol Adaption Layer (PAL), one of the big changes in the just-announced Bluetooth 3.0 specification, a two-year project. PAL, together with the 802.11 media access control (MAC) and 802.11 physical (PHY) layers constitute the Alternate MAC/PHY or AMP, enabling a Bluetooth profile (such as file transfer) to run over a Wi-Fi link. It’s the beginning of “Bluetooth everywhere,” according to Network World blogger Craig Mathias.

But make sure you look for the full formal designation: Bluetooth 3.0 + High Speed (or HS). (For some uses, vendors can deploy 3.0 without the ability to use a Wi-Fi connection but they can’t use “high speed” in labeling it).

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