Data-jamming issue could stall Bluetooth

Data-jamming issue could stall Bluetooth

Bluetooth could make possible what experts are calling the personal-area network by allowing users to transmit small amounts of data at about 1Mbps up to about 10 metres over the 2.4GHz radio frequency.

But analysts warn that transmissions from Bluetooth-enabled devices could jam transmissions over wireless LANs that use the 802.11 standard, resulting in very slow transmission speeds for users on both networks but mainly on 802.11 LANs.

Although 802.11 use is relatively rare, such jamming could cause messy problems for organisations that use the standard.

Then there are other problems that vendors in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group are working on but haven't answered.

For example, how does a user know that when a Bluetooth-ready laptop or cell phone is turned off, the Bluetooth data transmission capability is also turned off, thus preventing improper data transmissions?

Joyce Putscher, an analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, said conflicts between Bluetooth and 802.11 wireless networks would be "insignificant" once Bluetooth products hit the market.

However, several other analysts predicted technical problems could delay a rollout.

Several Bluetooth vendors, including Intel and Ericsson, said they are aware of the interference concerns. But Skip Byron, director of technology market development at Ericsson, said it will be up to vendors of 802.11 equipment to adjust to accommodate Bluetooth. He predicted a 20 per cent reduction of data speed when both types of transmissions are operating in the same space.

Like Bluetooth, the 802.11 wireless LAN allows transmissions along the 2.4GHz band, but it works at faster speeds of at least 2Mbps in LANs from about 20 to 100 metres, with transmission speed declining at greater distances, analysts said.

Meanwhile, analysts advise IT shops to test Bluetooth devices, once available, within existing wireless networks and to ensure that Bluetooth can be shut off easily if problems develop.

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