Bluetooth to work with Wi-Fi

The technology enabling Bluetooth connections to hop on neighboring Wi-Fi networks is about a year from being ready

A future version of Bluetooth will be able to increase throughput for sending videos, music, and other high-bandwidth applications by using a nearby Wi-Fi network, the group in charge of Bluetooth development says.

Ander Edlund, European Marketing Director for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, said the technology enabling Bluetooth connections to hop on neighboring Wi-Fi networks is about a year from being ready. "We're on [Bluetooth version] 2.1 now, so it might be in version 3," Edlund said on the eve of Mobile World Congress, which opened its a four-day run Monday.

The technology that will enable Bluetooth to use Wi-Fi is called "Alternate MAC/PHY."

Bluetooth was designed as way to wirelessly connect devices--a PC and a printer, for example--that doesn't consume as much power as Wi-Fi, but also doesn't move data as quickly or as far.

Bluetooth developers are already working to make their technology compliant with another wireless broadband standard, the WiMedia Alliance's Certified Wireless USB ultra-wideband technology.

However Certified Wireless USB products have only begun to appear recently, and so Bluetooth is turning to a more ubiquitous high-speed wireless technology to help with applications where Bluetooth's own bandwidth (with a theoretical maximum of 3 megabits per second) is insufficient. The Bluetooth SIG stressed that it is continuing to work on pairing Bluetooth with Certified Wireless USB, however.

Alternate MAC/PHY would let a Bluetooth connection use an 802.11x network only when the additional bandwidth was needed; for tasks that can make do with standard Bluetooth speeds, the Bluetooth connection would stop using the Wi-Fi network.

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