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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What it will take for mobile VoIP to get enterprise-ready

voipBy all rights, mobile VoIP sounds like an enticing proposition for a lot of companies.

After all, what enterprise wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to save money on their mobile phone bills by sending their wireless calls over an IP network rather than a cellular network? But despite this attractive premise, current mobile VoIP technology has yet to evolve to the point where users can simply switch on their phones anywhere and expect to connect to a secure IP network.

The obvious reason for this is because mobile VoIP devices today are reliant upon Wi-Fi technology, which can offer quality voice service but which also has limited range and is prone to coverage gaps that make it problematic as a voice technology. These factors have so far limited mobile VoIP offerings to office environments or home environments where workers can securely connect to local hotspots to get a dedicated voice channel. But Stan Schatt, an analyst at ABI Research, says that these in-office, in-house technologies have not yet matured enough to the point where they can properly support more complicated applications such as conference calling.

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