Bluetooth technology is nothing new, but in many respects it still seems to be more of
a buzz word rather than a well understood, commonly accepted technology. You see
advertisements for Bluetooth enabled cell phones, PDAs, and laptops, and a search of the
Geeks.com website shows all sorts of different devices taking advantage of this wireless
standard. But, what is it?
Before getting into the technology, the word Bluetooth is intriguing all on its own,
and deserves a look. The term is far less high tech than you might imagine, and finds its
roots in European history. The King of Denmark from 940 to 981 was renowned for his
ability to help people communicate, his name (in English)... Harald Bluetooth. Perhaps a
bit obscure, but the reference is appropriate for a wireless communications standard.
Another item worth investigating is the Bluetooth logo. Based on characters from the
runic alphabet (used in ancient Denmark), it was chosen as it appears to be the
combination of the English letter B and an asterisk.
The FAQ on the Bluetooth.org (https://www.bluetooth.org/) website offers a basic
definition: "Bluetooth wireless technology is a worldwide specification for a small-form
factor, low-cost radio solution that provides links between mobile computers, mobile
phones, other portable handheld devices, and connectivity to the Internet."
Just like 802.11 b/g wireless networking systems and many cordless telephones,
Bluetooth devices operate on 2.4 GHz radio signals. That band seems to be getting a bit
crowded, and interference between devices may be difficult to avoid. Telephones are now
being offered on the 5.8 GHz band to help remedy this, and Bluetooth has taken its own
steps to reduce interference and improve transmission quality. Version 1.1 of the
Bluetooth standard greatly reduces interference issues, but requires completely different
hardware from the original 1.0C standard, thus eliminating any chance of backwards
The typical specifications of Bluetooth indicate a maximum transfer rate of 723 kbps
and a range of 20-100 meters (65 to 328 feet - depending on the class of the device). This
speed is a fraction of that offered by 802.11 b or g wireless standards, so it is obvious
that Bluetooth doesn’t pose a threat to replace your wireless network. Although it is very
similar to 802.11 in many ways, Bluetooth was never intended to be a networking standard,
but does have many practical applications.
There are a variety of products that take advantage of Bluetooth’s capabilities, from
laptops and PDAs, to headphones and input devices, and even wireless printer adapters.
Many Laptops include an onboard Bluetooth adaptor to allow the system to connect to any
Bluetooth device right out of the box. For laptop or desktop systems that do not have an
adaptor built in, there are many USB Bluetooth adaptors available.