Bluetooth vs. 80211: The Bogus Showdown

While often portrayed as being locked in a battle to the death, these two wireless technologies actually are complementary, according to a new vendor white paper.


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The so-called battle between short-range Bluetooth and wider-area 802.11 wireless local area networks (WLANs) is bogus and both will succeed, according to a white paper released Tuesday by TDK Systems.

The vendor has a vested interest in the outcome of this "battle" because it creates products for both technologies. The white paper points out many observers believe that one or the other technologies will win out and that Bluetooth seems to be behind at this point but that the technologies are complementary, not competitive.

The white paper notes that Bluetooth technology is rapidly being built into mobile phones. It says that there will be 24 million Bluetooth-enabled phones in use by the end of 2002, an increase of about 1780% compared to 2001.

"As Bluetooth becomes better recognized from its handset penetration, the range of business and consumer applications involving laptops, PDAs and PCs will also rise," said Nick Hunn, who made the forecast in the company's white paper.

Over time, the number of Bluetooth nodes will far surpass those of WLAN nodes, the white paper predicts. Specifically, the paper predicts that by 2006 as many Bluetooth products will be sold in a week as WLAN nodes will be sold in a year.

Hunn said the so-called war between the technologies has been fueled by industry analysts and vendors.

"Analysts and semiconductor companies have been anxious to secure their position with successive announcements of silicon shipments," said Hunn. "The problem with many of these figures, however, is that the bulk of real solutions require more than one chip - usually two or three chips per product."

Put differently, he said that the different technologies are appropriate for different uses. Wi-Fi is best suited for creating wireless networks while Bluetooth is a cable replacement and provides the ability to develop ad hoc personal area networks.

This story was first published on 802.11 Planet.com, an internet.com site.

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