Microsoft talks up Bluetooth

InfoWorld |  Networking

And as Bluetooth expands what it can do, the technology will become even more entrenched. For example, work is "already being done now" to assure that IP will run over Bluetooth, which should be ready by February 2001, "Microsoft believes that IP is the correct transport," Foley said.

The Microsoft executive said he doesn't believe that Bluetooth will replace the wireless LAN industry standard, IEEE 802.11b, which supports transmission speeds of up to 11Mbps. "Bluetooth is not a wireless LAN. There are better standards for wireless LANs," Foley said.

On the contrary, in the future, Bluetooth will work well with 802.11b, according to Foley, although both standards operate in the 2.4GHz frrequency band, which has been raising some fears of interference between Bluetooth and 802.11b. "Coexistence will get there but not in the first roll out of Bluetooth," Foley said.

Furthermore, Foley said Bluetooth will not lose out to HomeRF (radio frequency), the 1.6Mbps wireless LAN technology is also getting a lot of attention at Comdex.

Both Bluetooth and HomeRF are frequency-hopping technologies that are being touted as being particularly suited for streaming audio, voice, and data over home networks, especially for home entertainment purposes. As with 802.11b, Foley sees coexistence between Bluetooth and HomeRF.

But with plans to ramp HomeRF to speed up to 10Mbps by next year, the technology may become more of a challenge to Bluetooth. "If Microsoft finds something easier, they will move to it. It's about speed and who gets embedded in products first. The one who gets to market first is going to win," said Jeffrey Sloman, the Tuesday panel discussion chairman and senior consultant with Data Communications Consulting.

"Bluetooth's strength is in its protocols. They've got to divorce the radio portion from its ability to do some very nice stuff but the Bluetooth Consortium has too many agendas. Then again, Microsoft is a powerful force and, right now, it looks like they are behind Bluetooth," Sloman said.

Laura Rohde is a London correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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