Bluetooth fights back against wireless USB

Bluetooth will hold its own against wireless USB, say its backers.

Phone manufacturers will continue to insert Bluetooth chips into handsets, asserted a representative from the Bluetooth SIG. This came in response from , who predicted that wireless USB would begin to displace Bluetooth in cell phones.

In part, survival will come out of convenience. "Manufacturers want one-stop shopping for product certification and they want the devices they are creating today and tomorrow to be compatible with the millions of Bluetooth devices on the market and coming to market every day," the Bluetooth rep wrote. Battery life is also low with Bluetooth.

Additionally, bandwidth, a problem for Bluetooth historically, will stay competitive when a new standard being developed with those behind ultrawideband. (UWB). Bluetooth alone now does 3.0 megabits per second. The new standard will go at 100 megabits per second. Wireless USB is targeted at 480Mbps at three meters and 110Mbps at 10 meters. So in the real world, that's about even, with the tiebreaker going to whichever standard can provide lower power consumption and lower cost.

Time well tell. Bluetooth has always had great promise, but it generally has not lived up to expectations. Early backers envisioned it as a key component in wireless data traffic. Many try today to pretend it wasn't supposed to be what WiFi is, but that was the original plan.

"Over time there will be Bluetooth nodes out there, and you'll start to be able to do things like high-speed access to the Internet not only from work but in public places like hotels," said Simon Ellis of Intel, one of the big proponents of Bluetooth, back in 1999 when the standard was finally about to come out.

It got downsized to a way to replace cables. Even in that, a lot of people don't use the Bluetooth capabilities that come with their devices in the same way that people didn't use the infrared nodules on their Palms or notebooks.

But there are a lot of companies who've put a lot of money into Bluetooth. Power consumption historically has been pretty good too, so who knows.

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About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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