Bluetooth Comes of Age

Selected excerpts from the Code Corp White Paper.

By James E. Bagley, Code Corporation, February 8, 2005

Bluetooth technology has become so ubiquitous that it is difficult, now, to find a notebook computer or PDA that doesn’t have an embedded Bluetooth radio. However, there are still a number of issues, some real, some imagined, that give IT management pause in regards to widespread Bluetooth deployment.

1. Bluetooth will interfere with my WiFi system

As organizations have become reliant on 802.11 networks, the mere thought of introducing devices that chew up 2.4GHz bandwidth is a sacrilege. However, we have found that the devices coexist very well in such an environment, . Bluetooth 1.1 protocol has spread spectrum frequency hopping even without the latest and Bluetooth 1.2 protocol which provides for Adaptive Frequency Hopping. But with AFH (available on all of our products, even old ones with a firmware upgrade), the Bluetooth radios become even more WiFi friendly, by finding the WiFi traffic and avoiding it. They similarly avoid any other streaming source of noise, making the operation more robust.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article about AFH:

“By creating the Adaptive Frequency Hopping feature, the SIG has responded to industry requirements to better facilitate communication between various devices operating in the 2.4GHz ISM spectrum, thereby creating a more friendly environment where a wide variety of devices can coexist,” said Microsoft’s Wireless Architect Dr. Michael Foley.

Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) was explicitly designed to reduce interference between wireless technologies sharing the 2.4 GHz unlicensed radio spectrum. Cordless telephones, microwave ovens and certain Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) technologies, including IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g, generally share the same wireless frequencies as Bluetooth wireless technology. AFH works within the spectrum to take advantage of the available frequencies without limiting the Bluetooth transmission to a set of frequencies occupied by other technologies. This ‘adaptive hopping’ allows for more efficient transmission within the spectrum, thereby providing the user with greater performance, even if using other technologies along with the Bluetooth wireless technology.

2. Bluetooth enables industrial espionage and is less secure than 802.11

Since my laptop can “see” other Bluetooth devices in the neighborhood, it is easy to eavesdrop on the transmissions. Wrong. When two devices get paired up and connected, the transmissions between them are automatically unavailable to other devices. See the attached white paper comparing security of 802.11 and Bluetooth.

3. Bluetooth is not a “standard”

While a defacto standard, it has not been incorporated under the IEEE 802 flagship; however, this is just a matter of time. As of now, with millions of Bluetooth connections in place, this communications protocol is only going to expand. All one needs to do is use a search engine to find “Bluetooth” and you will see the widespread use of this technology. It is a critical, low-cost tool for automatic id users, and will continue to grow rapidly in the end user community.

Read the full white paper at codecorp.com.