World's No. 1 cellphone maker says new short-range spec delivers longer battery life UPDATED 10/04 11:45 AM

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

October 3, 2006

2 Min Read
Nokia Readies Bluetooth Buster

You know WiMax, you've heard of WiBro, now meet Wibree -- the new short-range wireless specification from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK). The number one cellphone maker is hoping the new technology will supplant Bluetooth for personal-area networking (PAN) applications. (See Nokia Intros Wibree.)

Wibree shares many of the same characteristics of Bluetooth -- it has a range of 30 feet, transfers data at up to 1Mbit/s, and will operate in the 2.4GHz band. The Finnish giant says, however, that the new specification will use far less power than its predecessor. This could mean longer battery life for the types of devices in which this technology is typically implemented -- cellphones, laptops, and PDAs.

Nokia expects a commercial spec for Wibree to be ready by the second quarter of 2007. So far, the firm says, Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), CSR plc (London: CSR), Epson, and Nordic Semiconductor have licensed the specification. It plans to make the technology more widely available via an industry forum.

Wibree, however, isn't the only technology out there that promises better short-range networking. Ultra-wideband (UWB), a.k.a. "Wireless USB" technology," is also laying claim to Bluetooth's faded crown. UWB's main claim to fame is that, unlike Wibree, it's much faster than Bluetooth, offering transmission speeds of 400 Mbit/s and up. (See Bluetooth, We Hardly Knew Ye and Bluetooth's Makeunder.)

There is also the question of backwards-compatibility with Bluetooth for any new technology on the scene. At the end of 2005, there were more than 272 million Bluetooth units on the market, according to Strategy Analytics Inc. Nokia says that since Wibree shares much of the same underlying technology with Bluetooth it will be easy and cost-effective for manufacturers to design dual-mode chips.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) , of which Nokia is a member, adds that it sees Wibree as complimentary to the existing Bluetooth standard. "Wibree is built upon Bluetooth wireless technology," writes a spokesperson for the group. "Wibree consists of a small extension to a standard Bluetooth radio. As such, Wibree has the potential to enhance Bluetooth use cases in the phone by bringing sensor [network] type devices into the fold."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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