Optical/IP Networks

The Missing Link

2:00 PM -- While I’ve never been a huge fan of Bluetooth, even I have to confess that there’s a lot of good stuff in there. So how come the carriers are dragging their feet on bringing all that to us?

About six years ago, I predicted that Bluetooth (BT) would suffer the same fate as the IrDA infrared standard: a huge installed based, but few users. And, with the exception of BT headsets, that’s come to pass. Part of the problem is the slow throughput of Bluetooth, and its very limited range. But that’s radio stuff -- the BT applications stack is rich and robust. It’s been ported to ultra-wideband (UWB), and I think this combination will have a long and happy life.

Except that the cellular carriers continue to cripple BT functionality. Have a look, for example, at Verizon Wireless’s position. The most glaring omission is support for dial-up networking -- the ability to use a BT handset as a relay point for another device, like a notebook computer -- being available on only one handset. Why? Well, my guess is that Verizon simply doesn’t have enough capacity to support all the users who would really like to do this. It’s often challenging to set up, but really useful once you do.

I’m assuming BT on UWB is going to be very, very popular. In advance of this, it is time for the carriers to free Bluetooth. I’m sure it won’t do much good, but call your carrier and make sure they get the message.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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