Bluetooth mobile phones unveiled

The futuristic world of The Jetsons is one step closer with the worldwide unveiling of the first Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones by Ericsson.

Ericsson yesterday revealed two GSM mobile handsets equipped with Bluetooth technology, a standard based on short-range radio transmissions that enables voice and high-speed data to be sent between devices. With Bluetooth, a user can leave a mobile phone in their pocket while it communicates with a Bluetooth-enabled laptop, if the devices are within a ten-metre radius of each other.

The Ericsson T36 and R520 model phones are set for release in early 2001. The latter model is set to be trailed sooner -- Australian telco Telstra will test out the units during the upcoming Sydney 2000 Olympics, Ericsson officials confirmed.

Consumers will be able to wirelessly link the handsets to other Bluetooth-compatible devices. They will be able to activate these connections with voice commands.

Both phones are triple band with High Speed Circuit Switched Data (HSCSD) allowing consumers to send and receive data slightly faster than with normal GSM.

The R520 also has General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) which provides an always-on data service at various multiples of the normal GSM data speed. It suspends data services during voice calls, reconnecting when the voice call has finished.

According to Ericsson business manager, Edwin Earl, there will be a greater interest in the Australian market for R520 when the country adopts GPRS later this year. The UK sees its first GPRS service in late June, when BT Cellnet starts a limited system for corporate use, with a consumer service planned for the end of the year.

Both the T36 and R520 have five row displays and can be voice activated through Ericsson Bluetooth headsets, which enable the user to make a call, or connect to the Internet.

The bottom line on Bluetooth is that it will succeed, the question that remains is -- when? Read the news comment from Guy Kewney at AnchorDesk UK

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

Take me to the Bluetooth special

For more Australian stories, check out the ZDNet Australia site

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