Bluetooth SIG Selects New Highspeed Bluetooth Standard

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Bluetooth SIG Selects New Highspeed Bluetooth Standard

The Bluetooth SIG today announced its selection of the WiMedia Alliance multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) version of ultra-wideband (UWB) for integration with current Bluetooth wireless technology, thus taking the next step in its plan to create a version of the globally popular Bluetooth wireless technology with a high speed/high data rate option. This new version of Bluetooth technology will meet the high-speed demands of synchronizing and transferring large amounts of data as well as enabling high quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multi-media projectors and television sets. At the same time, Bluetooth technology will continue catering to the needs of very low power applications such as mice, keyboards and mono headsets, enabling devices to select the most appropriate physical radio for the application requirements, thereby offering the best of both worlds. VoIP is also a target for this new high-speed Bluetooth. According to Bluetooth SIG their goal is to ensure the same battery life footprint used by the old standard by leveraging new technologies and implementing more efficiencies. They are also aiming for 100Mbits/s within a single room (10 meters) with speeds that scale as you move closer and further away.

From a political perspective, this is very interesting since Bluetooth SIG is a membership group and you have members in both WiMedia Alliance and the UWB Forum. Since Bluetooth SIG chose WiMedia Alliance over UWB Forum's proposed specification, you could have some pro-UWB Forum members dropping out of the Bluetooth SIG. UWB Forum has already developed UWB solutions on silicon, so this would mean they would need to switch technologies to the new WiMedia Alliance specification.

Stated Michael Foley, Ph. D., executive director, Bluetooth SIG: “As a member-driven organization, it is the Bluetooth SIG’s responsibility to ensure it’s attentive to its members’ needs. Having considered the UWB technology options, 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.”

It is critical that the UWB technology be compatible with Bluetooth radios and maintain the core attributes of Bluetooth wireless technology – low power, low cost, ad-hoc networking, built-in security features, and ability to integrate into mobile devices. Backwards compatibility with the over 500 million Bluetooth devices currently on the market is also an important consideration. The Bluetooth SIG is satisfied that MB-OFDM UWB technology, offered by the WiMedia Alliance, is capable of meeting all of these requirements. The two organizations are dedicated to working together to ensure that the combined high-speed solution is optimized for mobile devices with very low power consumption.

“The Bluetooth community has been extremely successful at generating strong brand recognition among users of high volume, lower data rate computer, telecommunications and consumer products,” said Stephen R. Wood, president, WiMedia Alliance and UWB technology strategist at Intel. “The WiMedia Alliance looks forward to providing suppliers of Bluetooth products with a higher speed technology path that will enable the next generation of exciting new portable data applications.”

One of the key components to the agreement between the Bluetooth SIG and the WiMedia Alliance will help UWB achieve global regulatory acceptance. Both parties have agreed to develop a high speed, high data rate Bluetooth solution that utilizes the unlicensed radio spectrum above 6 GHz. This move answers concerns voiced by regulatory bodies in both Europe and Asia.

“Companies working with Bluetooth technology want to stay one step ahead of consumer demand and deliver a wireless technology that meets the global market needs for the personal area network – today and in the future,” said John Barr, Ph. D., chairman of the board of directors, Bluetooth SIG, and director, standards realization, Motorola. “There is now an opportunity for the WiMedia Alliance to work with the Bluetooth SIG to define the Bluetooth technology/UWB implementation that will work for the Bluetooth SIG, our members and end users.”

Next Steps
The Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group Charter and UWB Feature Requirements Document (FRD) have been approved by the Bluetooth SIG Board of Directors, signaling that work may commence. The requirements set by the UWB study group in the UWB FRD define what has to be done to create a solution appropriate for adoption by the Bluetooth SIG. Both groups will immediately begin work together on the specification draft within the Bluetooth SIG Core Specification Working Group. The Bluetooth SIG estimates this process to last approximately one year, with the first Bluetooth technology/UWB solution chip sets available for prototyping in Q2 2007.

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