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Bluetooth to be boosted by marriage to UWB

SIG lays out next-gen plans…
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

SIG lays out next-gen plans…

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has said it will combine WiMedia Alliance's ultra-wideband (UWB) with its next-generation Bluetooth wireless technology.

According to Michael Foley, executive director of Bluetooth SIG, the integration effort will allow developers to create a version of the popular wireless technology with higher data rates.

The Bluetooth SIG is targeting to release new specifications, with UWB integration, in the first quarter of 2007.

This next-generation Bluetooth technology will be able to handle data transfer and synchronisation in large volumes, as well as support high-quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multimedia projectors and TVs.

At the same time, Bluetooth will continue to be backward compatible, catering to the needs of low power devices such as mice, keyboards and headsets.

Current Bluetooth devices can only transmit data files at speeds of up to 3Mbps and over distances from 10 to 100 meters. UWB-enhanced Bluetooth is tipped to reach transfer rates of up to 200Mbps.

The Bluetooth SIG said it is critical that UWB technology is compatible with Bluetooth radios and maintain the core characteristics of Bluetooth wireless technology - low power, low cost, ad-hoc networking and integration into mobile devices.

The industry group, which has members such as Motorola and Nokia, said it is satisfied that WiMedia Alliance's UWB technology can fulfil all those requirements.

Foley said the Bluetooth SIG has considered all available UWB technology choices, and "the decision ultimately came down to what our members want, which is to leverage their current investments in both UWB and Bluetooth technologies, and meet the high-speed demands of their customers".

"By working closely with the WiMedia Alliance to create the next version of Bluetooth technology, we will enable our members to do just that," he said.

One of the key components in the agreement between the Bluetooth SIG and the WiMedia Alliance is a common goal to help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance.

Both parties have agreed to develop a high-speed, high-data rate Bluetooth product that rides on the unlicensed radio spectrum above 6GHz. This move answers concerns voiced by regulatory bodies in both Europe and Asia, the Bluetooth SIG said.

3G operators have pushed for tighter controls over UWB, claiming that their mobile networks could be disrupted by UWB, which operates over a wide range of frequency bands.

Aaron Tan writes for ZDNet Asia.

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