Bluetooth will coexist with WLANs, says Forrester

There will be ten times as many Bluetooth devices as wireless LAN nodes, but Wireless LANs will dominate for PC access
Written by Guy Kewney, Contributor

Stop worrying about whether Bluetooth will be wireless LAN technology, or whether WiFi will conflict with cordless Bluetooth devices: both systems are going to triumph, according to a Forrester survey just released.

And the message for the world's telcos is: "Wake up, and start installing access points before you lose your market!"

There will be ten times as many Bluetooth devices as wireless LAN nodes, according to analyst Lars Godell; but Wireless LAN (WLAN) will dominate for PC access, especially in public "hot spots" like airports and railway stations.

The sheer number of Bluetooth phones and PDAs means "Bluetooth will outnumber WLAN by ten to one in 2006 -- 235 million Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, PDAs and laptops, versus 22 million WLAN-enabled devices," predicts Godell.

One grim warning is offered: if the telcos of the world don't smell the coffee soon, they are going sleep through a major opportunity, and may never see their expected revenues from GPRS or UMTS (third generation phone networks).

With a few Nordic exceptions, Europe's telcos haven't moved out of the trial mode with WLAN services -- and Bluetooth isn't even on their radar screens," according to Godell.

He says they must "wake up, and take part in the hotspot land grab now, before the most attractive hotspot locations and most lucrative business customers have been taken by competitors like MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) and new wireless ISPs (WISPs)."

The Forrester report dismisses recent pronouncements by some pundits who have expressed scepticism about Bluetooth. Wireless LAN will reach most notebook PCs, but "Bluetooth will go everywhere else, becoming the preferred choice for mobile phones, PDAs, and consumer gadgets, and winning on cost, power consumption and support for real-time applications like voice," says Godell.

In 2006, the report predicts, Bluetooth will be present in 73 percent of phones and 44 percent of PDAs. It will rule device-to-device communication, enabling seamless communication between phones, printers, PDAs and scanners in the office and between phones, smart home control units, TVs and VCRs in the home, as well as delivering powerful vertical solutions.

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