Bluetooth SIG working on specification to allow Bluetooth to piggyback onto Wi-Fi

Mobile phones like the Apple iPhone, and various Blackberry models typically feature both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. These two protocols work independently of each other while the handset is in operation.

The Bluetooth SIG announced today a new method of speeding up Bluetooth connectivity by piggybacking onto the Wi-Fi connection already available in many handsets and devices. The Bluetooth SIG is very specific in that this new announcement in no way affects the development of the upcoming Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology that has been in development for the last few years.

The Bluetooth SIG says the new architecture, which is called Alternate MAC/PHY by the members working on the specification, is a way to grab the low hanging fruit until UWB comes to market.

Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG said in a statement, “This is the wireless technology equivalent of ‘low hanging fruit.’ What we’re doing is taking classic Bluetooth connections – using Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and other architectural elements – and allowing it to jump on top of the already present 802.11 radio, when necessary, to send bulky entertainment data, faster. When the speed of 802.11 is overkill, the connection returns to normal operation on a Bluetooth radio for optimal power management and performance.”

At the core of the technology, when low speeds are all that is needed, the traditional Bluetooth only radio would be used. When a user needs to send a large file from a Bluetooth device to a printer the Wi-Fi radio would be used to send the large file at much faster speeds. This new technology will be seen in devices that utilize one single radio for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The final specification for Alternate MAC/PHY is expected to be published in mid-2009.

DailyTech reported in 2006 that the UWB Forum was having problems with one of the major members claiming that the goals of the UWB Forum were too grand.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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