Bluetooth partners boost "Frequency Hopping"
- By John K. Waters
Last week's Bluetooth Americas 2003 conference brought together some of the
top players in the short-range wireless market to discuss the future of their
industry. Execs from Microsoft, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Nokia and
Toshiba -- all founders of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) -- focused
much of their attention on Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH), a new feature of
Core Specification Version 1.2 that was adopted by the Bluetooth SIG last
AFH was designed to allow devices that operate in the crowded 2.4GHz
unlicensed radio spectrum to ''play well'' together, explained Microsoft Wireless
Architect Michael Foley. It was created specifically to reduce interference
between wireless technologies sharing that spectrum. Cordless telephones,
microwave ovens and certain Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) technologies,
including IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11g, generally share the same wireless
frequencies as Bluetooth wireless technology. AFH works within the spectrum to
take advantage of the available frequencies without limiting the Bluetooth
transmission to a set of frequencies occupied by other technologies.
This ''adaptive hopping'' allows for more efficient transmission within the
swarming spectrum, Foley said, providing the user with better performance, even
when using other technologies along with Bluetooth. By developing the AFH
technology, he noted, the SIG has created a ''friendlier environment where a wide
variety of devices can co-exist.''
Along with AFH, Core Specification Version 1.2 introduced a number of new
features intended to make Bluetooth wireless technology easier and more reliable
to use, including:
* Enhanced Voice Processing that
is designed to improve the quality of voice connections, particularly in noisy
environments, using error-detection methodologies.
* Faster Connection Setup, a version of the wireless technology that allows
for even faster connections to other Bluetooth wireless devices, improving the
* Backward Compatibility with Bluetooth Core Specification Version 1.1
products, a key feature in the new spec that allows users of nearly all existing
Bluetooth-equipped devices to work with products built to the new spec.
Bluetooth provides up to 720 Kbps data transfer within a range of 10 meters
and up to 100 meters with a power boost. Unlike IrDA, which requires line of
sight, Bluetooth uses omnidirectional radio waves that can transmit through
walls and other non-metal barriers.
The Bluetooth SIG was founded in 1998 to support the development of an open
standard for short-range transmission of digital voice and data between mobile
and desktop devices. The SIG-sponsored, three-day conference was held at the San
Jose Convention Center, and ran from December 9-11.
Products that incorporate the AFH feature of Bluetooth Core Specification
Version 1.2 are expected to begin shipping in the next quarter, according to the
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached