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Ericsson spins off a Bluetooth company

The mobile phone maker will form a separate company to sell Bluetooth technology, expanding its products based on the wireless protocol to include hardware, software and support services.

Ericsson is capping its Bluetooth strategy.

The Swedish maker of mobile phones said Wednesday that it will form a separate company to sell its Bluetooth technology, expanding its products based on the wireless protocol to include hardware, software and support services.

Bluetooth technology lets people who use cell phones, pagers, handhelds and laptops link their devices wirelessly into a "personal area network" and into the Internet.

The new company, which has yet to be named, is intended to strengthen Ericsson's position within the incipient Bluetooth market and to allow it to focus on licensing the technology, Ericsson said in a statement. It will license Ericsson's Bluetooth intellectual property to chip and module manufacturers as well as to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that make mobile consumer devices.

As mobile devices become more popular, the tech industry has looked to Bluetooth as a short-range wireless technology that eliminates the need for cables and wires for attaching computers and other devices. Analysts say, however, that widespread use of the technology is still about two years away, since most initial Bluetooth products will only just be hitting the market next year.

Just this month, a number of equipment makers announced plans to support the new technology. In the second quarter of next year, Compaq Computer plans to begin integrating modules into notebooks that will let consumers more easily snap on connections for Bluetooth or cellular communications.

Networking giant 3Com has also announced plans for new wireless products that connect computers with handheld devices and allow them to swap data.

Jorgen Neckmar has been named acting manager of Ericsson's newly formed company, which has 100 employees.

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