Drilling Into Bluetooth

The emergence of wireless technology has come in many forms. While the 802.11 standards are well-known for their capability to run WLANs and other broadband transmissions, other standards exist that perform distinct wireless functions. Most notable of this class is Bluetooth. But, what exactly is Bluetooth and how d'es it c'exist with the 802.11 standards?

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless standard used to emit a powerful short-range radio signal. The 30' signal is best suited for connecting mobile devices such as phones, headsets, laptops and PDAs to one another. For more information, visit the official Bluetooth Web site at www.bluetooth.com.

How does Bluetooth coexist with the 802.11 wireless standards?

Bluetooth and the 802.11 standards can peacefully c'exist because each was designed for a distinct purpose. The 802.11 standards are specifically designed for running WLANs that create a network of computers and connect users to the Internet. Bluetooth, on the other hand, is designed to allow portable devices to communicate with each other. However, many agree that Bluetooth can be used in an office or classroom to connect mobile devices in the same space that a WLAN is running to create a computer network.

Can Bluetooth and the 802.11 standards interfere with each other?

Because both Bluetooth and the 802.11b and 802.11g standards use the crowded 2.4 GHz band, there is the possibility for interference. However, the emergence of the faster, more secure 802.11a standard (operating in the 5 GHz band) in the business world offers what seems like the best solution to prevent interference. Institutions that operate under 802.11a for their WLAN and under Bluetooth for their mobile devices will experience faster service on the far less crowded 5 GHz band and less interference on the 2.4 GHz band for Bluetooth services.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2003 issue of THE Journal.