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Bluetooth group preps 2.1Mbps spec

Same packet rate, bigger payloads

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Bluetooth communications are set to get rather faster with a new version of the specification that takes its data throughput 2.1Mbps in the offing.

The new version, Bluetooth Enhanced Data Rate (EDR), is offered as a "prototype specification" by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The technology increases data transmission by compressing more data into each packet rather than by increasing the rate at which packets are sent. Today's devices support speeds of up to 712Kbps.

Bluetooth EDR will use existing Bluetooth 1.2 technology for connecting devices and sending data, so older devices will still be able to communicate with machines supporting EDR.

The SIG says EDR will consume less power than the current version - it reckons EDR devices will eke out battery power for twice as long as Bluetooth units do today. And the new specification also provides improved facilities to use several functions or devices simultaneously, due to more available bandwidth.

The Bluetooth SIG expects the EDR specification to be finalised this coming Autumn. Products based on the specification are set to ship some time in 2005.

The SIG needs to come up with improved versions of the spec if it's to prevent Bluetooth becoming overshadowed by UWB-based technologies such as the 480Mbps Wireless USB. WUSB's first spec isn't due until the end of the year, and even if it's implemented quickly, Bluetooth has a considerable lead in terms of the number of devices that support it. ®

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