Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology

Will 802.11 Kill Bluetooth? 228

Posted by Hemos
from the battle-of-the-wireless dept.
joshwa writes "NYTimes (free reg. required) has an article about the struggles of the Bluetooth folks to fine-tune their technology and get the costs down far enough. The most interesting part is that analysts seem to think that 802.11's (what is this new 'Wi-Fi' moniker?) growing popularity will overshadow Bluetooth's entrance into the marketplace, and will beat Bluetooth into the small devices market. Can 802.11 actually work in a Palm or a cell phone?" The article, IMHO, misses the difference in uses - if you've got a small device that you want to conserve power on, and only communicate small distances, Bluetooth's ideal. If you've got a lot of power, a la a notebook computer, and want to communicate 150 ft., then 802.11 is what you want. Imagine that: Different uses! Different standards! Amazing!
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Will 802.11 Kill Bluetooth?

Comments Filter:
  • by sllort (442574) on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:34AM (#2197244) Homepage Journal
    Watch Evil Dead.

    You can't kill something if it's already dead.
  • Sure it will (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baptiste (256004) <mike AT baptiste DOT us> on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:34AM (#2197245) Homepage Journal
    Bluetooth doesn't stand a chance. Why? Because it interferes with 802.11 802.11 throughput drops like a stone when a Bluetooth piconet is active. Many corporations have banned Bluetooth devices (before they were even available) to avoid this.

    There are ways around it - by having APs that can handle both protocols and thus can deal with both protocols being active at once. But given teh amount of 802.11 equipment out there already, I expect many places will resist Bluetooth devices since they don't want to have to buy new APs. Thus Bluetooth will have a tough time gaining ground.

    I think its a neat idea, but heck - USB was supposed to reduce the rats nest around my PC too and hasn't so far - I'm still waiting for monitors with USB ports that your keyboard and mouse connect to - I knwo they exist, but its not widely done (nor are keyboards and mice over USB)

    • Re:Sure it will (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brento (26177)
      I think its a neat idea, but heck - USB was supposed to reduce the rats nest around my PC too and hasn't so far - I'm still waiting for monitors with USB ports that your keyboard and mouse connect to - I knwo they exist, but its not widely done (nor are keyboards and mice over USB)

      Your wait will be even longer: Bluetooth is supposed to do *exactly the same thing*! One of Bluetooth's purposes is wireless mice/keyboards that work with each other, unlike the proprietary standards of today. If you think the wait for monitors with USB hubs was long, wait until you see the wait for monitors with Bluetooth receivers. The monitor industry's already been burned by this once with USB, they won't be so quick to jump on the bandwagon with yet another standard that doesn't really add value to the monitor.

    • Because it interferes with 802.11 802.11 throughput drops like a stone when a Bluetooth piconet is active.


      Isn't that why 802.11 and Bluetooth both do frequency hopping? So they can avoid running into each other? The really bad 2.4Ghz devices are those that don't frequency hop, like the x10 wireless cameras and wireless phones. They just blast all over the spectrum.

      BTW, I've got a keyboard, mouse, two MP3 players, and a TV tuner (watiing for Linux support here..) that all go through one USB cable into my PC. I'd have the printer too, but RH 7.1 has a few problems with it still (like recognizing it, but not accepting any data).
      • Re:Sure it will (Score:4, Informative)

        by kaisyain (15013) on Monday August 20, 2001 @11:35AM (#2197479)
        802.11b doesn't do frequency hopping, it does direct sequence. That's why Bluetooth interferes with 802.11b but not vice versa. Bluetooth hops on and off the 802.11b spectrum and only suffers minimal packet loss. However, if the Bluetooth signal is strong enough it can cause the 802.11b link to drop completely.

        I'm not sure what the original poster meant about access points understanding both protocols. Last I heard the two ideas under discussion were to modify Bluetooth's hopping protocol and/or regulating Bluetooth signal strength. Both of those are Bluetooth changes and have nothing to do with access points "understanding" both protocols.
    • My cordless phone drops the 802.11b connection to a bare minimum if it doesn't block it altogether. I once tried to set up a WiFi network at a customer's house and after trying several pieces of equipment, we finally figured out that it was the neighbors cordless phone causing the WLAN to go down every few minutes.

      With the 802.11x security problems that have been exposed recently, I'd say that we need a new wireless standard altogether. One that is all-encompassing. Low power/bandwidth for those portables and more bandwidth for the other devices.
      • I'd say that we need a new wireless standard altogether.

        Well, the problem isn't really 802.11 (in terms of the cordless problem) Its the fact that 802.11 uses a public band which means other stuff can use it too (and interfere with it) But if you move wireless LAns into a non public radio band, the cost goes way up as now you have to deal with the FCC and licenses. Honestly I have no idea why they even make 2.4GHz cordless phones - I mean do you REALLY need your cordless to work a mile from your home (hint - it's called cellular - get one :) ) So the bottom line is if you want inexpensive wireless gear, its gonna use a public spectrum slice and you're always going to have to deal with other devices in it.

        I think folk shave been giving 802.11 a bad rap. it does a very good job. Sure WEP can be broken, but that can be fixed. I love my wireless gear and have no complaints so far! Considering you can get APs < $200 and PCMCIA cards < $99, thats pretty good! Throw in a fix for WEP and I honestly coudl care less if 802.11 kills Bluetooth :)

      • This is easy to fix. Simply change the channel that your wireless HUB is on and the devices will find it. I find that that channels 2, 6 and 10 tend to be the ones most free of trouble from 2.4Ghz phones. The default channel (11) on many wireless hubs is just an awful choice.
    • heck - USB was supposed to reduce the rats nest around my PC too and hasn't so far

      Ummm, no it wasn't! How exactly would USB reduce the rats nest (i.e. lots of wires) around your PC, when it, too, uses wires?

      USB was designed to provide faster data throughput than serial/parallel cables, hot-plug&play, and the ability to use a huge # of devices... all for a relatively low cost.

      It was NOT designed to reduce the # of wires around your computer system. That's what Bluetooth is for.
      • Ummm, no it wasn't! How exactly would USB reduce the rats nest (i.e. lots of wires) around your PC, when it, too, uses wires?

        Um, I didn't say eliminate, I said reduce. The idea was, instead of having wires all over for the peripherals, you'd daisy chain them. One USB cable to your monitor with built in USB hub, with the keyboard and mouse plugged into that. Things like scanners, cameras, etc would plug into your monitor or a desktop hub, etc. This way you didn't have to home run every single freaking wire back to the beige box like you do now. Also, since USB can provide limited power, some devices could lose their wall wart power supplies and leech off the USB power bus. No more 25 conductor serial or SCSI cables, - instead a nice flexiable and thin USB cable.

        So yes, one of the advantages of USB was to reduce the tangle/rats nest of wires - in theory there should have only been 2 wires going from your desk surface to the box on the floor with everything else plugging into the hub which might even be in your monitor, etc. I look at my desktop now and there are 9 wires plugged into the back excluding power. These 9 could easily be gone - instead plugged into a more localized USB hub on my desk or into other USB devices (USB frmo PC to monitor. Keyboard, scanner, printer plugged into monitor hub, mouse plugged into keyboard with small hub in it, etc.) To me reducing my PC wire count by 8 would be huge.

        • But the example you gave was not what USB promised, but what some digital monitor manufacturers promised. I never read anything about USB reducing clutter.

          As for the thing about reducing cables because of the power coming from USB -- which power cables did you think USB would allow you to get rid of? Keyboards/mice don't use them, and USB never promised enough power for a monitor, printer, scanner, speaker, etc...

          So, no, I never heard USB promoted as reducing wires in any fashion...
  • by sticks_us (150624) on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:35AM (#2197249) Homepage
    I work in the wireless industry myself, and can say that there is quite a bit of debate over this.

    What will probably happen (as seems to happen a lot) is that one major vendor or provider will choose a certain standard, regardless of its value, or without a thought as to whether or not two technologies can be mutually compatible (as the writer above mentions). Then its time to push it down everyone's throats until the other one disappears.

    Sad, but true.
    • IBM uses 802.11 in their pervasive computing stuff (smarter appliances). Very cool stuff, and i have to agree with the previous post that you can't kill something (bluetooth) that's already dead.
    • by Locutus (9039) on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:40PM (#2197743)
      Remember those "friendly" aliens from Mars in "Mars Attacks"? Swap in Bill Gates for each alien and then think about what's the fuss about Bluetooth....

      The problem is this: Microsoft is dis'ing Bluetooth and pushing 802.11 for all the wrong reasons. 802.11 is a good technology but it forces the small device( ie Palms ) to be bigger. WinCE devices are already FAT because the OS and the plethora of capabilities pre-packaged. This is why Microsoft is pushing 802.11 over Bluetooth. It takes care of two big headaches it has.....Palm based handhelds are becoming the place were users keep their data and the computer/network is a backup or copy of the PDA. This isn't what Microsoft wants because it wants to own your data and charge you to access it. By pushing for the death of Bluetooth it stalls Palms move into wireless, leaves Palm handhelds stranded by requiring it be "tethered" to a computer they can keep track of, and gets another shot at moving your data into it's hands instead of yours.

      Another technology attacked to preserve the almighty Microsoft corporation.....

  • by General_Corto (152906) on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:36AM (#2197252)
    ... then all you have to do is own a Handspring. There is a module to do that from Xircom (Intel) [handspring.com]
    • And if you wanna do it on your iPaq [compaq.com], you can look at the list of supported cards here [compaq.com], or try the list of Compaq cards [compaq.com]. Since the iPaq expansion port is basically a PCMCIA, Linux on the iPaq's gotta be able to do something with wireless LAN as well.


      (I haven't tried it yet, but the WL110 [compaq.com] looks to be the best solution for 802.11. I plan on getting it to work with my schools wireless LAN - I've tried, and Pocket Internet Explorer is capable of rendering Slashdot natively - dunno about Linux solutions, my serial port is toast so I can't put Linux on the iPaq - yet. (And no, the iPaq didn't fry it - my UPS did, AFAIK :)))

  • Does somebody know if there is a 802.11 card form Palm? I've seen one for the Visor once, but I have a m100.
  • What if.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by alexjohns (53323) <almuric@gMONETmail.com minus painter> on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:38AM (#2197266) Journal
    if you've got a small device that you want to conserve power on, and only communicate small distances, Bluetooth's ideal. If you've got a lot of power, a la a notebook computer, and want to communicate 150 ft., then 802.11 is what you want. Imagine that: Different uses! Different standards! Amazing!
    Which one do I use if I have a medium sized device with a middlin' amount of power and want to communicate a moderate distance. Do I need both?
    • Re:What if.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Brento (26177) <brento@brentoz a r . c om> on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:50AM (#2197322) Homepage
      Which one do I use if I have a medium sized device with a middlin' amount of power and want to communicate a moderate distance. Do I need both?

      It gets worse. Even if you have a high-powered device like a laptop, the industry expects you to have both. You'll need Bluetooth to talk to your cell phone and PDA, and 802.11 to talk to your wireless lan. Forget that! Laptops are pricey enough as it is.
  • It's too bad to see Bluetooth struggling to get out of the gates as I think the concept is right on the money. Imagine the ability to have your palm synchronize simply by entering the same room as your PC. Or your notebook to hop onto the LAN automatically when you enter your office. Or seamlessly having all the devices in your home networked without cables? A Bluetooth-enabled thermostat or burglar alarm could be configured easily from your PC without any wires. You could set your VCR to record "Seinfeld" from your desktop or (even better) from work using a browser. All without a single wire! I think there's a huge market for this type of technology, I hope Bluetooth can be rescued!

    • I'm missing the reason you can't do all that with 802.11

      Also, with the short range limits on Bluetooth, you better have a pretty small house if you want to do all of that stuff.
      • 802.11 Transmitter/Receivers are far too expensive and power-hungry for devices like Palms and cell phones. 802.11 doesn't really fit in these devices without significantly increasing the cost and severely decreasing the battery life. That's why Bluetooth is designed the way it is.

        - j

          • 802.11 Transmitter/Receivers are far too expensive and power-hungry for devices like Palms and cell phones

          Blah blah blah. You're parroting things that you clearly haven't researched. Low power 802.11b is equivelant to Bluetooth in range, power and manufacture cost (Bluetooth can theoretically be cheaper to make. Wake me up when it actually gets there). The reason that there are very few low power 802.11b devices is because there's no real demand for such a limited device.

          If we were really keen to put up with limited range and functionality if exchange for the low power benefits of Bluetooth, we'd all have bought into (lower powered, cheaper) IR and put up glitterballs.

    • You Said:

      It's too bad to see Bluetooth struggling to get out of the gates as I think the concept is right on the money. Imagine the ability to have your palm synchronize simply by entering the same room as your PC. Or your notebook to hop onto the LAN automatically when you enter your office. Or seamlessly having all the devices in your home networked without cables? A Bluetooth-enabled thermostat or burglar alarm could be configured easily from your PC without any wires. You could set your VCR to record "Seinfeld" from your desktop or (even better) from work using a browser. All without a single wire! I think there's a huge market for this type of technology, I hope Bluetooth can be rescued!

      All of what you said CAN be done with 802.11b there just needs to be programs written to do it. Bluetooth is nice, but the range of 802.11b has it beat. It would be nice if you can adjust the power level on the 802.11b access point so that the range could be controlled better (Set it up to only cover 20 feet instead of the default and it would be exactly like bluetooth).

  • by Bowie J. Poag (16898) on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:41AM (#2197276) Homepage


    Somebody turned me onto this page [personaltelco.net] that talks about how a group of guys are making a mission out of setting up localized, free wireless access to the Internet, with the ultimate goal being able to fire up your laptop anywhere within your city and get on the net for free. All it takes is a couple hundred dollars (which isnt much when shared between 20 people who pitch in, initially) and a guy who controls anything as meager as a DSL line willing to "donate" some of his bandwidth to the antenna.

    If anything, stuff like this will kill Bluetooth from a purely VHS vs. Beta sort of way. When it comes down to a fight between popular acceptance versus quality of technology, popular acceptance always wins.

    Cheers,
    • Somebody turned me onto this page [personaltelco.net] that talks about how a group of guys are making a mission out of setting up localized, free wireless access to the Internet, with the ultimate goal being able to fire up your laptop anywhere within your city and get on the net for free.

      Jeezus how did this post get rated +4???

      Bluetooth is not designed nor intended to do what you're describing. That is what 802.11 is for! This will not kill Bluetooth. Bluetooth is like USB without the cables. It's for short-distance, low-power communication. That's IT!
    • Not quite... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MadAhab (40080)
      Intentionally open 802.11b nets are cool. Unintentionally open ones might be fun, too. But the more people use the "open" ones, the more problems crop up, so that alone won't ensure 802.11b. Get an unfriendly visit from the cops investigating a hack-in that took place through your network, and I bet you'll close that sucker fast.

      In fact, given 802's security problems with weak encryption, it's likely to be replaced in a few years with something stronger. Which doesn't mean that free bootleg connections and a semi-anonymous, always-on world aren't coming anyway.

  • ntl (UK) has just announced a trial of a wireless (10Ghz) broadband offering in London.

    Detail over yonder [free2air.org].
  • Bluetooth Wireless Stumbles at the Starting Gate

    By CHRIS GAITHER

    ounging in bed on a recent Saturday morning, David Bolan, an executive with a Silicon Valley startup, lifted his thumb from the remote control and caught his first glimpse of his livelihood on the screen.

    There, a reseller was hawking 6,000 I.B.M. (news/quote) notebook computers left over from a crashed-and-burned company. The flameout must have been recent; the machines featured a new wireless technology called Bluetooth, for which Mr. Bolan's company, Pico Communications of Cupertino, Calif., designed networking products. Although the program conveyed a grim message about the high-technology meltdown, Mr. Bolan was thrilled when the announcer proclaimed Bluetooth the coming wave of unplugged communications.

    "This is awesome," Mr. Bolan, vice president for business development at Pico, recalled thinking. "The consumer is finally starting to be educated about Bluetooth."

    Last year was supposed to be the breakout year for Bluetooth technology, which carries information on radio waves among mobile phones, personal computers and other devices equipped with a Bluetooth chip. A fleet of products -- from cordless phone headsets to PC adapter kits -- were to have begun their cascade into the American market.

    The vision was alluring: cell phones and computers could synchronize their contact lists as soon as they were within 30 feet, hand-held computers could send documents through the air to a nearby printer, and laptops could surf the Web using a phone's cellular network. In several years, supporters argued, every electronic device or appliance -- from computers to microwave ovens -- would use a Bluetooth chip to talk automatically with other devices.

    Bluetooth supporters said chips would soon cost less than $5 and run on little power, allowing device makers to build the chips into each cell phone or hand-held device without worrying about battery drain. Encouraged by some of the world's largest electronics manufacturers, analysts estimated that nearly 1.5 billion Bluetooth-ready devices would be sold by 2005, creating vast communications networks between devices and appliances.

    But the cascade turned out to be a trickle -- Bluetooth was still not ready for mass production. Chip costs remained high, and devices sometimes refused to talk to each other. A handful of products began appearing on the market last September, but in small numbers and at high prices. These were normal growing pains for a young technology, but two years of boasting brought publicity to its troubles.

    Industry leaders say that with a new set of technical specifications and a more stable platform, Bluetooth is finally ready to pick up speed later this year, and take off in 2002. Motorola (news/quote), Ericsson (news/quote), 3Com (news/quote), Compaq, Toshiba (news/quote) and others have early Bluetooth products, including phone and PC adapters, on the market, with plans to increase distribution later this year, and Palm will offer a Bluetooth expansion card for its m500 series of hand-helds units by the end of the year.

    "We are going to drive it to become ubiquitous," said Michael Mace, chief competitive officer and vice president for product planning for Palm, which wants to enable its devices to communicate wirelessly with PC's, phones and other machines.

    But while engineers fine-tune Bluetooth and major manufacturers declare its rise is imminent, troubles have emerged. First, with the souring of the economy, corporations -- usually the first to adopt new technologies -- have cut budgets. Second, sales of handhelds and cellular phones, expected to be market drivers for Bluetooth, have plunged. And last, another wireless technology, originally expected to complement Bluetooth, came in and stole much of its thunder.

    The other wireless networking standard, called IEEE 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, has picked up strong momentum among information technology managers and technology savvy consumers. Wi-Fi networks allow computer users to connect to the Internet wirelessly from Starbucks (news/quote) coffee bars, as well as from some shops, airport and hotel lounges and corporate offices and college campuses.

    Supporters of both technologies say there is room for both in the marketplace. But if Wi-Fi succeeds in adopting Bluetooth's most attractive attributes -- low power consumption and cost -- it could be used in a wide range of small devices, which could then use the Internet to communicate with each other. This script, some observers predict, could render Bluetooth a well-planned, heavily financed failure.

    The development of Bluetooth goes back to 1994, when researchers in Ericsson's labs began work on a way to make hands-free cell phone calls without using cables. They found their solution in radio waves. Unlike infrared, which enlivens television remote controls and allows users of hand-held computers to beam their business cards to one another, radio waves can travel through walls and in many directions at once, up to about 30 feet. They used little power -- a crucial feature for devices that run on batteries. And, at least in theory, the radio chips could be made small and inexpensive, so they could be built into every phone.

    In 1998, Ericsson assembled a special-interest group to begin developing this technology for the general market. The first members were the cell phone maker Nokia (news/quote), the computer manufacturers I.B.M. and Toshiba, and the chip maker Intel (news/quote). Jim Kardach, an Intel technician and amateur historian, dubbed the wireless standard "Bluetooth," after Harald Bluetooth, a Scandinavian king who unified Denmark and Norway in the 10th century. The imagery was simple: the technology would bring together devices just like King Bluetooth linked the two countries.

    Joined by other technology leaders like Microsoft (news/quote), Compaq Computer (news/quote) and Lucent Technologies (news/quote), the Bluetooth Special Interest Group -- which now numbers 2,500 companies -- began suggesting that Bluetooth was the wireless technology that futurists awaited. In the beginning, they envisioned Bluetooth replacing cables to carry information not just within, but between devices, creating so-called personal-area networks unencumbered by wires.

    In this Bluetooth-enabled future, proponents say, travelers will walk into airports and be instantly recognized by their devices. The airline's computer system will send, via radio waves, the passenger's boarding pass, departure gate and flight status directly to the handheld or cell phone. On the road, a car with a broken fan belt can diagnose its troubles and contact a repairman through the network.

    "We're banking on the consumer marketplace to win with Bluetooth," said Francis Dance, telematics services project manager for BMW of North America.

    For that to happen, Bluetooth chips need others to talk with. But the price of chip sets has not declined nearly as fast as expected. Mr. Mace, the Palm executive, said his company will begin placing a Bluetooth chip set inside every handheld when chip sets costs less than $10, about half their price today. In the meantime, Palm and other manufacturers are relying on kits that add Bluetooth to existing devices. The kits can cost $200 per device, an expensive price to eliminate cables.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A little know fact is that you can vary the power on 802.11 adapters/accesspoints to acheive much of the "short range" capabilities of bluetooth.

    A review of the xircom 802.11 springboard module.

    http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/wireless/2001/06 /0 8/xircom_review.html

    --iamnotayam
  • Comparing Bluetooth to Wi-Fi is a little unfair. Bluetooth is meant to go small distances, not the ~100 feet Wi-Fi is capable of. It's better to compare Bluetooth to infrared - both are intended for short distances, and less permanent data sharing. Infrared is so rarely used that most people forget it's even there, but it would be nice if Bluetooth could change that.
  • by SirSlud (67381)
    Losing the wires is definately nice, but since 802.11b is more geared towards wireless networking outside of the home, it will probably saturate the market first - through stores a la Starbucks and corperations picking up the technology. Only once people see it at work/play will they buy into the technology at home. If bluetooth is cost/tech ready by that point, it will probably have its own successful coming out party .. but I definately agree .. two fundamental uses; I'd be suspicious I wasn't getting the most cost-effective solution if 802.11b was used in place of bluetooth in short-range wireless communication.

  • if you've got a small device that you want to conserve power on, and only communicate small distances, Bluetooth's ideal. If you've got a lot of power, a la a notebook computer, and want to communicate 150 ft., then 802.11 is what you want. Imagine that: Different uses! Different standards! Amazing!

    Or 802.11 could add a low-power mode.
  • by Brento (26177) <brento@brentoz a r . c om> on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:44AM (#2197295) Homepage
    The article, IMHO, misses the difference in uses - if you've got a small device that you want to conserve power on, and only communicate small distances, Bluetooth's ideal.

    This sounds like the same arguments people were using for infrared ports a few years back, and that caught on like sandpaper pantyhose.

    Bluetooth devices are failing for the same reasons infrared ports don't get used: they're just not that useful. Sure, when I want to print, it's awesome to be able to hold my PDA or laptop up to an HP printer and just fire away - but I have to hold it just so to maintain connectivity.

    Bluetooth is the same way - you have to be so close that it's not really useful for much other than wireless keyboards and headphones. Don't even get me started about Bluetooth connections between a cell phone and a PDA: why shouldn't I just get out the cable and save even more battery power? No sense in burning extra power just to have the convenience of leaving my cell phone in my holster.

    Am I wrong? Is there anything here that infrared didn't try to solve? Is there something that you would actually pay an extra $30 to add to your small battery-operated device, something that you wouldn't just use a cable or infrared for?
    • IR failed because it is essentially need line-of-sight - you need to physically arrange the source and destination so that they can see eachother. That's the reason that it failed - it required too much labour. RF technologies like Bluetooth and 802.11 don't have that limitation.


      Bluetooth is the same way - you have to be so close that it's not really useful


      10 metres is too close to be useful?!



      Tim

      • When IRDA was hot tech back in the mid-90s, I tried a number of things with some Win95 laptops, and it just plain did not work except (sometimes) between two identical IBM laptops. Configuring Winders to transfer files was a pain in the ass and involved setting up a dial-up networking server. HP had just started shipping printers with an IR interface, a practice they later scaled back, mainly because none of the numerous laptops I tried could actually print to the damn things.

        So it might have failed because line-of-sight, but it also could have been that the tech was plain broken during the adoption phase, and later was widely forgotton.

        (Bluetooth came out of the cell phone makers desire to build a wireless headset -- it wasn't orginally intended to be computer tech per se, although that's where it will probably be adopted first.)
    • Bluetooth doesn't need line of sight. The main failing with irDA is that it needs line of sight to be maintained between communicating devices. Bluetooth can talk to devices within your snazzy Dockers 'mobile pants' while happily irradiating your groin.
    • Yikes... a +5 for what basically amounts to this question:

      Is there anything here that infrared didn't try to solve?

      Why yes! There's this problem with infrared called "line-of-site." Bluetooth is not affected by it. Nobody wants to use infrared because of this problem.

      Bluetooth is the same way - you have to be so close that it's not really useful for much other than wireless keyboards and headphones.

      Huh? Bluetooth works within a 10cm to 100m range! Read this:

      http://www.palowireless.com/infotooth/knowbase/gen eral/10.asp [palowireless.com]

      Bluetooth devices are failing for the same reasons infrared ports don't get used

      Hmmm, how many bluetooth devices have hit the market so far? Zero? One? Two? I haven't seen any. I love people that claim a market is failing when it hasn't even started yet.

      You probably think Internet Appliances are dead, too, right?

      Is there something that you would actually pay an extra $30 to add to your small battery-operated device

      Where did you get this number from? $30? Says who? Sure it'll be expensive at first, what isn't? Eventually the cost will be so small that you won't even notice it in the price of a device.

      Also, there is a TON of stuff that Bluetooth could do that infrared cannot. For example:

      - You could have an earbud for your cellphone that does not require a wire to connect to the phone, which could be in your pocket, next to you in your car, etc.

      - You could have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard without anything sitting on your desk to accept the IR, since the range of bluetooth could easily reach your PC if it's near your desk.

      - You could have a bluetooth pen that sends what it is writing to your PDA or laptop, for archival.

      Try thinking out of the box a little bit, first.
      • Hmmm, how many bluetooth devices have hit the market so far? Zero? One? Two? I haven't seen any. I love people that claim a market is failing when it hasn't even started yet. You probably think Internet Appliances are dead, too, right?

        I was at Comdex two years ago, and had the privilege of playing with not one or two, but six different Bluetooth devices. Not a single one has hit the market - and this wasn't even last year, it was the show before that! I love it when people who admit to not having even seen a single product yet can talk about the markets. And yeah, when I can't name a single company that's in the black from making internet appliances, that's a dead market.

        You could have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard without anything sitting on your desk to accept the IR, since the range of bluetooth could easily reach your PC if it's near your desk.

        Oh, you mean like Logitech's? Or like Intel's? Yep, those exist. Nope, they're not worth the money to most of us.

        You could have a bluetooth pen that sends what it is writing to your PDA or laptop, for archival.

        That technology doesn't even exist without wires, let alone wireless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:44AM (#2197297)
    Actually the "802.11" that you are speaking of is really called 802.11b (yes the 'b' is important). 802.11b is the standard that most everyone thinks of when they here wireless LAN, the 11Mbps transfer rate distance of 100 or 300 meters or something like that. But there are several other 802.11 specs out there, for instance the 54Mbps standard that will make use of the 5GHz ISM band, or the 802.11a standard (I believe it is a, might be g) which is in fact a direct competetor for Bluetooth. That is it is a low power short range wireless networking system designed to link things like handhelds and whatever else. It is not that far from release and probably will over shadow Bluetooth (mostly because BT sucks, I have been doing some extensive testing and it has the stability of a MS operating system). Anyway, just a few notes, thought that I might correct the guy on the Slashdot payroll who flaps his lips about things that he is obviously not educated about.
    • 802.11a does have one low-power mode that might compete with Bluetooth, but most people are expecting it to be 'Wireless Fast Ethernet' (actually just 30 Mbps real throughput, even though 54 Mbps theoretical), with a range not that much lower than 802.11b.
    • And moreover, 802.11 itself identifies the entire set of ethernet standards.

      802.11 is the formal definition of an ethernet frame.
      • 802.11b [has a] distance of 100 or 300 meters

      Or you can shunt it through a 14dBi antenna [consume.net] and get a couple of km out of it. I wonder how well Bluetooth devices will work near a consume.net node? Ask yourself this: do you care about that .bomb yuppie screaming into his Bluetooth headset, or do you want to participate in an unregulated network of clued peers?

  • My humble prediction: Bluetooth is never going to amount to more than a lot of tradepress column inches, some PR, and a lot of R&D spending. Further prediction: exactly the same fate will befall Jini. Wireless networking is riddled with security holes; thus, as the inferior technology, it is bound to beat out the others.

    A couple of Register stories: Psion dump Bluetooth [theregister.co.uk] due to lack of demand; and Microsoft knifes Bluetooth in the back [theregister.co.uk]. Let's hear it for good old fashioned British sarcasm, cynicism and *hey!* accurate reporting ;)

  • Not to blame everything on Microsoft, but The Register [theregister.co.uk] had a good article on this a while back. Why the press can't figure out that they're complementary standards, not competitive ones, is beyond me.
  • "Wi-Fi" is to Firewire
    as
    Bluetooth is to USB.

    Hm, so what's copper and fiber Ethernet??
    SCSI and Fibre Channel??

    Hm....
  • Actually wireless ethernet maybe more suited for handhelds then you may think. 11 mbps is the way almost everyone runs it by default, but nothing says you can't use 1Mbps. By reducing the data rate, and power you can probably get a very low power PDA type connection with an acceptable range. In fact I've already seen CF cards that support 802.11 (from symbol), but there are no drivers for my TRGPro yet :-(.

    What will plague both of these standards though is the half arse security design. Which ever one can address enterprise level security, wide range use (PDA to desktop), and enough bandwidth for the applications used (1Mbps is probably enough for small devices, but not for heavy file sharing. So which will be the driving factor?) will probably push the other out of the market.
  • by Gedvondur (40666) on Monday August 20, 2001 @10:56AM (#2197337)
    Bluetooth is an interesting technology. When you start looking into it, the possibilities are enormous. A lot of people were bitten by the Bluetooth bug, and it's understandable why. It would be VERY cool if it worked out.

    One of the huge problems is that people keep comparing 802.11b (WI-FI) to Bluetooth.

    They are NOT the same thing. Go read the Bluetooth spec. Bluetooth is a cable replacement technology that can, if necessary, do some ad-hoc networking. 802.11b is wireless Ethernet. Not the same thing, not intended to do the same thing.

    There have been a couple of companies that have been deliberately muddying the waters about this. Bluetooth is NOT an acceptable replacement or even a good substitute for 802.11b. Bluetooth is limited to 1megabit per second, which means throughput of about 650k to 800k real, depending on conditions. 802.11b is 11megabits max, and about 5megabits in the real world. (Shared bandwidth, retransmissions, and Ethernet overhead)

    Bluetooth is staggeringly bad at providing traditional Ethernet services, just as 802.11b is awful as a cable replacement technology. 802.11b has too much power usage, and dependency on Ethernet for cable replacement. It was NOT designed to replace the cable going from your cell phone to your headset. Bluetooth was. It was just overly hyped and generally misunderstood. Too bad, it could have been cool.

    Gedvondur
    • Yep, and even the NYT gets it wrong in the article. More evidence that the American press is in the entertainment business, not the information business. What a shame.
    • About the speed of 802.11b... I just read a review of 10 or so access points and card combos. They had Cisco's Aironet at 4.8 Mbps. Most of the others were in the 2.5 - 4.0 range. This is fine for web or generic work, but it just won't fly in the corporate world.

      Most of the consulting I have done in evaluating wireless LAN products has led to the conclusion that it is only good for laptops, and only light to moderate use at that. Most coders or DBAs won't touch it if they can't get 100 Mbps.
    • ...the real problem was that it was a great idea without a market. Basically, the folks doing the market research didn't do their jobs right, or like the analysts in the dot-com craze of the past couple of years, led themselves to believe that the old rules didn't apply.

      The real problem is that Bluetooth has a range of only about 10m. In one famous example, an expo was supposed to have wired an entire building with Bluetooth. They put the access points in the ceiling. The problem was, the ceiling was over 10m high! So it was a bust.

      The criticism of the article that the two products have different uses makes sense, because Bluetooth isn't being "beaten" by 802.11. 802.11 has an actual use, a market, and products people want to buy. If Bluetooth dies, it'll be because it died on its own, without help or hindrance from 802.11.
      • ...the real problem was that it was a great idea without a market.

        Bluetooth does have a market. Remember that the technology was invented by Ericsson for GSM mobile phones and other devices, and then adopted and adapted by other vendors (Nokia, Intel, IBM, 3Com and others) who defined the standard together.

        The original idea was to replace the cables or infrared connections between the mobile phone and the laptop or PDA. The cables are annoying because you have to connect them, they get in the way, and you have to make sure that you do not break them. The infrared connections require a line-of-sight and this is easy to break if you cannot let the devices rest on a stable surface. One of the goals of Bluetooth is to let you hold a PDA in your hand, keep the mobile phone in your pocket, and then connect to the Internet. Other possible uses include a wireless earphone, display, mouse or keyboard (I have used one of these, based on infrared, and I was loosing characters all the time because of the line-of-sight constraints).

        If you keep in mind that Bluetooth is designed to replace the cables that connect several small devices and that it is not designed to replace a WLAN, then it makes sense to have a range of 10m.

        I am using several laptops, PDAs and mobile phones for my work. I hate cables and infrared connections that break all the time. I hope that it will not take too long to get Bluetooth support in all devices that I am using. From my point of view, there is a market for Bluetooth.

      • 802.11b is wireless Ethernet.

      Pedantic correction (the best kind of correction). 802.11 is Ethernet. RJ45/Cat 5 is wired Ethernet. Ethernet is a wireless standard.

  • After this story on EE Times, perhaps the tide will shift a bit?
    "Cipher attack delivers heavy blow to WLAN security - A new report dashes any remaining illusions that 802.11-based (Wi-Fi) wireless local-area networks are in any way secure"
    EE Times Article. [eetimes.com]
    Hmm, the attack scales linearly with number of bits. Bummer.
  • by laertes (4218)
    802.11b is pathetically weak. With every new node which uses 802.11b, faulty encryption is becoming more ingrained in our infrastructure. You can help stop the spread of 802.11b. Demonstrate a well known attack. Use AirSnort [sourceforge.net], show it to your boss, coworkers, anyone who purchases hardware.

    Information about this exploit doesn't seem to want to be free, for example, Slashdot wouldn't announce AirSnort when it came out. We shouldn't be satisfied until we can buy a wireless ethernet card with very strong encryption. However, if people continue to buy 802.11b cards, the hardware manufacturers will have no pressure to develop a less broken protocol.

    • by kurowski (11243)
      Come on, man. Nobody expects wireline ethernet hardware to come with strong encryption built into the hardware. Why do people insist on this for wireless? Because it's easier to tap? Not by much...

      Relying on hardware for your encryption is short-sighted, since flaws in the crypto mean you need to buy new hardware. Plus, I want end-to-end encryption (think SSL, ssh, etc), not endpoint-to-accesspoint.

      I just wish that 802.11b hardware came with NO encryption built in, that way people wouldn't suffer from the false sense of security that's been sold to them.

  • Hopefully this isn't too oftopic - I thought it was informative enough for the current discussion...

    I just came across this on Yahoo... looks like Sony's new Handicams will have Bluetooth chips built in:
    http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010820/tc/tech _s ony_handycam_dc_1.html
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2001 @11:01AM (#2197351)
    It's been pointed out that 802.11 could have a low-power mode. 802.11 HAS a low-power mode: it's called PCF, and nobody uses it. But really, if you don't mind the power drain on the slave (the master can't sleep anyways), you can even use a low-power transmitted with DCF.

    The point is Bluetooth screws up 802.11, and which is more important, your LAN that allows people to get work done when they're not in their cube, or Bluetooth which lets people talk on their cell phone using an earpiece without wires? That's a tough call, Intel.

    I can't understand the /. attitude towards Bluetooth. When MS creates proprietary standards, cool or otherwise, everyone rails on them. When Intel does it in cooperation with a couple other big names, but shuts out public participation, some people here seem to frown on the demise of the standard. While the IEEE standards process is not quite as open as the IETF, I'd take an IEEE standard over a Bluetooth SIG standard any day.
  • by The Pim (140414) on Monday August 20, 2001 @11:30AM (#2197453)
    Different uses! Different standards!

    Actually, we're better off using the same standard for different uses, wherever possible. Do you want to go back to TCP/IP, IPX, and NetBEUI on every LAN? Ethernet and token ring? They all have different uses, but they're close enough that we should just pick one pretending that it will work in all situations, then make the best of it.

    Bluetooth and 802.11 are clearly in this situation, IMO. The main difference between them: one is for near and one for far. This makes sense by strict engineering standards, but in the big picture it's a detail. If 802.11 becomes the standard, we'll make it scale down to "near". Not to mention (as did another poster), what do I do if I'm "in between"? There are other parts to Bluetooth, but nothing that can't be layered on top of another network (in the Internet tradition of "dumb network, smart endpoints").

  • Xircom (?) offers an 802.11 expansion for the Visor handhelds. Let's you hook straight into the network. I'd really like to see BlueTooth as well (being an alternative to the IR port), but it wouldn't fill the same gap. I personally think BlueTooth may be having some problems right now...
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Monday August 20, 2001 @11:44AM (#2197517)
    My esteemed Slashdot colleagues have already pointed out that 802.11b can have verious modes, from 1 to 11mbps. But there also is no standard for 802.11b radio output power. You can have a 100mW radio like the Cisco Aironet LCM352, or you can have a 30mW radio like the Lucent Orinoco Silver. You could have 1W or 1mW, as well. I suspect that if your range requirement is only 10 meters, you could use a 5mW radio and a short dipole antenna at 1mbps for a low-power 802.11b device. If you could get 1 or 2 dBi gain out of the antenna, you'd be doing even better.
      • But there also is no standard for 802.11b radio output power. [...] 1 or 2 dBi gain out of the antenna, you'd be doing even better.

      Bah! Your 802.11 has no honour! consume.net [consume.net] are hosting a project to form a wireless network, using 5 - 14 dBi antennae. Power to the people. ;)

  • by Neorej (398404) <j.veen@NoSPam.kpn-is.nl> on Monday August 20, 2001 @11:56AM (#2197565) Homepage
    And I like them,

    I went to Ericsson once where they showed us a bunch of stuff working over bluetooth (vending machines, connections to pda's, laptops, internet radios, web pads and overhead beamers) and I must say I was impressed.

    Interference may be an issue though but in the long run I think a technology like Bluetooth (not necesarily Bluetooth itself) will reach a large market. At some point in the future we will all probably have some fiber/DSL X megabit line into our home which is hooked up to some routing thing that sends the whole stream into the air thru some shortish range technology. From that point on we can access that broadband line from every Bluetooth enables device in our home. You don't need a high power 150' range wireless lan for that, you'd just upset the neighbourhood then.

    Wireless lan may be able to do the same thing but as far as I know it's probably going to be a lot more expensive, Bluetooth and wireless lan are 2 different things (which was one of the first things I heard from the Ericsson people) with different uses. The Bluetooth organisation thingy whatever comittee or something wants to get the price of a chip under $5 so practically every manufacturer will throw in bluetooth, if only as a marketing thing. I don't see that happening with wireless lan.

    Besides all that LAN's Ethernet, AFAIK, and Bluetooth makes individual connections to different devices on different frequencies, again AFAIK. Bluetooth just seems a lot more efficient to hook up devices that don't need a gazillion bits to operate at an acceptable level.

    Ok, I'll stop ranting now, it's the end of the working day and I can't say I'm feeling very coherent :-)



  • Here is an article [yahoo.com] on Yahoo about Sony Handycam's
    using Bluetooth to make them "networkable" for sharing media.

    Is it just me or does Sony seem to support a lot of varied technologies? Seems it would make them less disaster-prone to debacles involving putting all of their technological "eggs" in one proverbial basket. It kind of makes sense when you have Sony's financial backing to be on every bandwagon that comes through town.

    They were foremost in the mini-disk market (which sadly didn't make it because I bought one ;) and they didn't shy away from the mp3 market with players and memory stick tech.

    Just a thought.
    • Yes, sony supports varied technologies.

      The minidisc market made it; just not in north america. It's very popular in europe & Japan. VERY popular.
      And mp3 players? Does sony actually have an mp3 player? I know they have a digital memory stick player, but I think it uses their atrac encoding (same as minidisc) not mp3.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:24PM (#2197673) Homepage Journal
    802.15 and 802.11 have very different purposes. 802.11 is designed from the ground up to be "wireless ethernet" while 802.15 is really a replacement for IR ports and for wire replacement. For instance, 802.15 has an SDP, a Service Discovery Protocol, which is basically a way do discover what the other bluetooth devices in your piconet can do. The original idea was for you to press the "Print" button and your bluetooth device goes out and asks who can handle something called a "print job". The local BT enabled printer pipes up and they negotiate automatically (The 802.15 spec also has provisions for authentication and encryption), and your print job automagically appears on the printer. To do this with 802.11, you would have to make some sort of Service Discovery layer on top of the 802.11 standard, and most 802.11 devices wouldn't support it. Bluetooth devices also draw much less power than 802.11 devices in general, and the 802.15 spec even has provisions for cutting down on your tx power if you are close enough to the piconet master (although I don't think most devices implement this yet).

    In a nutshell this article is the equivlent of saying that Ethernet is going to kill off USB, because it's obviously so much faster and stuff.
  • Tell it to my mom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BillyGoatThree (324006) on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:33PM (#2197713)
    "...if you've got a small device that you want to conserve power on, and only communicate small distances, Bluetooth's ideal. If you've got a lot of power, a la a notebook computer, and want to communicate 150 ft., then 802.11 is what you want. "

    These aren't "different uses". Different uses would be something like "walking the dog" vs "picking my teeth" or "flying the space shuttle" vs "trimming the hedges". Both of *your* examples are "using a portable computer to communicate wirelessly".

    I mean, consider this. You go to Circuit City and ask to buy some speakers. The guy there says "Well, for DVDs or for VHS?" Ummmm....does it matter? "Of course. They are totally different technologies. One uses magnetic tape while the other is an optical disk technology. Totally incompatible. Don't even try playing VHS tape sound through DVD-compatible speakers."

    Obviously different devices have different *optimal* solutions. But keep in mind that no device exists in a vacuum. If laptops are running 802.11 then handhelds better do the same or I simply won't buy one. It's not like the two camps having nothing to say to each other and can be fully partitioned.
    • Picking your front teeth and picking your back teeth are different uses, and have had different devices patented to accomplish them.

      I would rather have 802.11b for my big-house RFnet, but BlueTooth for when I'm in a hotel room and just want to upload data to my shaver.

      --Blair
      "Something wonderful."
      -Clarke/Kubrick
  • by Freeptop (123103) on Monday August 20, 2001 @12:55PM (#2197837)
    There were just too many threads I wanted to reply to, so I figured I'd just put everything I had to say in one post, so here goes:

    1. The statement that Bluetooth is lower power than 802.11 is currently false. Okay, it has a lower power transmitter, yes, but so far, last I knew, nobody had produced a Bluetooth radio that wasn't at least as much of a power hog as an 802.11 radio... and any 802.11 radio that has a power-saving mode does _much_ better than a Bluetooth radio. Bluetooth was also supposed to be cheaper, but the manufacturers are discovering that they are having a tough time bringing down the cost on that, too. Given time, these problems can be overcome, however, 802.11 happens to have a large headstart on both the cost and power fronts, and therefore has a good chance of preventing Bluetooth from being able to compete (nobody wants to invest a bunch of resources into a standard that the market hasn't yet truly clamored for).

    2. Bluetooth and 802.11b interoperability. Without breaking one standard or the other, it ain't going to happen. And even if you do break one standard, it won't be backwards compatible. The two standards conflict too much. 802.11b has a back-off mechanism. Bluetooth doesn't. I actually did some work looking into building a Bluetooth/802.11b AP that would try to cleanly give both Bluetooth and 802.11b time on the air without breaking either standard. It's too difficult. Bluetooth is just to strict on the timing (not to mention the big problem that some Bluetooth cards refuse to give up being the Master).

    3. 802.11 security was not broken. WEP was broken. Badly. But WEP is not the end-all, be-all of security. And yes, the industry _is_ working on better security, and has been for some time. IEEE 802.11 Task Group e is still in the process of agreeing upon a method for point-to-point security, with dynamically session keys, including a username/password setup. This is what the industry has wanted for some time. WEP was only meant to slow down the script kiddies who would just sit in parking lots with their cards set to associate to "ANY". I really wish people would stop assuming that WEP is the entirety of wireless security. It is not, and was never intended to be. One more note on this: it was not 802.11x that was broken. I'm not sure what 802.11x is, but it isn't a security standard. 802.1x is a LAN security standard, but even that isn't what was broken. Just WEP.

    4. 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11. 802.11 is the general IEEE group for Wireless LAN networking. 802.11b is the 11Mbps standard. 802.11a is the 5GHz 54Mbps standard (once they decide exactly what that standard is). TGe, which should translate to 802.11e will be the new security standard. There are others (including a standard for 22Mbps in the 2.4GHz band, which I _think_ is 802.11h), but I don't remember what most of them are.

    5. Wi-Fi stands for "Wireless Fidelity". Basically, a bunch of 802.11 card manufacturers got tired of the fact that different cards that implemented IEEE 802.11 were not interoperable. So WECA was born (Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance). WECA decided that "IEEE 802.11" wasn't a marketing-friendly name, so they came up with "Wireless Fidelity" or "Wi-Fi" for short. Despite the marketing speak, this is actually a good organization. They have a whole slew of tests to determine whether an 802.11 radio is compatible with others that have passed the tests. If they pass, they get to put the Wi-Fi logo on their product. If a product has the Wi-Fi logo, then it can interoperate with any other radio that has passed the WECA tests. So there is a very minor distinction between Wi-Fi and 802.11. Basically, it is possible for a radio to implement 802.11 and not be Wi-Fi, but at this point, no company in their right mind would do so.

    Well, that pretty much ends my rant. Take it for what you will.

    -Freeptop
    • Good stuff, but to clarify some of your points...

      2. Bluetooth and 802.11b interoperability. Without breaking one standard or the other, it ain't going to happen. And even if you do break one standard, it won't be backwards compatible. The two standards conflict too much. 802.11b has a back-off mechanism. Bluetooth doesn't. I actually did some work looking into building a Bluetooth/802.11b AP that would try to cleanly give both Bluetooth and 802.11b time on the air without breaking either standard. It's too difficult. Bluetooth is just to strict on the timing (not to mention the big problem that some Bluetooth cards refuse to give up being the Master).

      This is due to the Frequency Hopping (FH, as apposed to DS, Direct Sequence) nature of Bluetooth. It could be possible to build a dual-mode (or since you have an FH mode transmitter, tri-mode, as the original 802.11 spec allowed for FH or DS Spread Spectrum) that would do this, but it would definately have to be ONE CARD, as the transmitter/receiver sections would need to know exactly what frequencies are in use and avoid them. A dual card system simply would not be able to keep up.

      Such dual radio systems have been proposed (Bluetooth FH/802.11b DS, and 802.11 FH/802.11b DS), but the costs associated with making such a beast, even after the initial development work - which is severly costly in itself, are horribly expensive, totally outweighing the benefits of such a device.

      It is also interesting to note that the 802.15 TG2 group is working for co-existance. This is not the same as interoperability, but simply handling the presence of other signals on the same frequency band. For those that dont know, 802.15 is the IEEE sanitised version of Bluetooth.

      3. 802.11 security was not broken. WEP was broken. Badly. But WEP is not the end-all, be-all of security. And yes, the industry _is_ working on better security, and has been for some time. IEEE 802.11 Task Group e is still in the process of agreeing upon a method for point-to-point security, with dynamically session keys, including a username/password setup. This is what the industry has wanted for some time. WEP was only meant to slow down the script kiddies who would just sit in parking lots with their cards set to associate to "ANY". I really wish people would stop assuming that WEP is the entirety of wireless security. It is not, and was never intended to be. One more note on this: it was not 802.11x that was broken. I'm not sure what 802.11x is, but it isn't a security standard. 802.1x is a LAN security standard, but even that isn't what was broken. Just WEP.

      This is spot on the ball. The new standard they are working on sounds like it will be called 802.11i. The TGe group , which was working on MAC layer enhancements, decided to split into 2 task-groups, where the E group is to follow Quality of Service (QoS), and the I group is to follow Security. These were originally to be one standard, and breaking them up into 2 seperate standards IMHO is a GOOD THING.(tm)

      Of note here is that most, if not all Access Points can be set up to NOT allow Mobile Units with no *SSID set to bind to them. They can still snoop on some data (it's their card receiving it), but it just takes them that little bit longer. Some Access Points allow you to provide Access Control lists for particular MAC Addresses of Mobile Units, which is a damn good idea if you have a reasonable number of mobile units. Remember: They can always listen in somehow, but wether they can access your network is another matter entirely.

      4. 802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11. 802.11 is the general IEEE group for Wireless LAN networking. 802.11b is the 11Mbps standard. 802.11a is the 5GHz 54Mbps standard (once they decide exactly what that standard is). TGe, which should translate to 802.11e will be the new security standard. There are others (including a standard for 22Mbps in the 2.4GHz band, which I _think_ is 802.11h), but I don't remember what most of them are.

      As I mentioned, TGe has been split into 2 groups. The TGg group is working on 22+ Mbps standards in the 2.4 Ghz range, and currently look to be using Orthagonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (or OFDM, which is different again from DS and FH). More information about the 802.11 Standards can be found at the 802.11 Standards [ieee.org] homepage at the IEEE [ieee.org].

      Of note: OFDM looks to be the new 'holy grail' in not only wireless, but optical, and possibly even wired technology, as it allows much more of the usable "available" spectrum to be utilised for data transmission, with higher signal to noise ratio's. The 3G Cellular standards looks like they will be using OFDM, and new optical technologies that Lucent are trying to get off the ground will also be using it.

  • For a better article on factors driving the relative failure of bluetooth and sucess of 802.11b, read Bye-bye, Bluetooth [cnet.com] by Bill Gurley (of Benchmark and Above The Crowd fame) courtesy news.com [news.com].

    While I think Gurley makes some good points about the relative cost economies (Bluetooth doesn't seem to have an advantage) and the power of server connected applications versus localized networks, I wouldn't dismiss local device networking so fast. There's a lot of potential for cell phone to fixed point communication, cell/laptop transfer, vehicle networking, etc. that passive RF can't handle. For all of its good points, 802.11b is very difficult to get broad coverage with and GPRS/2.5G cellular technology is probably more economical if the cellular providers could ever come up with a good data pricing model.

    Regards, RJS

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is the single largest reason that 802.11b will end up being a dead-end product from an
    extensable infrastructure point of view.

    If you look very, *very* carefully at 802.11b design, everything about it screams inadequate engineering. I espically get a kick out of all the "Wireless ISP" who are deploying the gear (oh, yeah, that's smart... bet your *entire* business plan on unprotected frequency space). It doesn't take a rocket-scientist to look at the three co-located access point limitation to realize that you can't even solve the map coloring problem (a standard cellular deployment/freq. propagation exercise) for the single vendor instance, let alone multiple vendors. And, hey, if you don't believe me, drop on by the NZNOG mailing list, where you would have found the following recent contribution:

    > From: "Neil"
    > Subject: CLEAR Net Tempest
    > To:
    >
    > Hi All,
    >
    > Has anyone else had any problems with Clear's 802.11 wireless
    > internet service (http://www.clear.net.nz/services/tempest.html) as
    > a source of interference? They have just done a rollout in Rotorua
    > and totally stoped 3 separate wireless networks that had been running
    > together nicely for the past year or two.
    >
    > [...]

    I won't even bother going into the inadequate engineering effort that was expended during the design of WEP. That's pretty much a dead horse anyway.

    But beyond all this, the access point/slave node model, that the majority of 802.11b implementations use, is fundamentally non-extensiable. Lucent had some interesting peer-to-peer firmware releases, but I'm not even sure you can get them (even if you're willing to pay) these days. I also liked Rooftop systems, which seemed to have the most mature wireless architecture (too bad Nokia brought them out and basically killed the product). Another of my favorates is Breezecom, although I don't like the way they advertize the bandwidth (3mbps my ass), but some of their FHSS synchronization (unusable in the good old USA) make up for their marketing.

    Bluetooth is cool because is basically fscks up 802.11b's day without becoming completely unusable (for non-time sensitive data) in and of itself. I can't wait until users start boosting their Bluetooth signals with ranger extending antenna and small amps. I'm also pissed with the freq. allocations; I'm tired of line-of-sight in a big way. Why the IEEE802.11 track didn't go down the high-bandwidth FHSS road is completely beyond me. Bascially, it's going to end up going down that road anyway, with the arrival of complete bastardization of 802.11b like the "Harmony" firmware relase for a certain brands of access points and slave cards. But, until I can buy a a set of Bluetooth legacy plugs for ethernet (two smallish pigtails that plug into eithernet sockets and get rid of the wire via layer 2 bridging... and hopefully with some client and switch end configurable filtering), I won't be a happy camper. Anyway, the easiest solution from the Bluetooth spectrum is just to side step the issue by building Bluetooth chips that can work on 900mhz, 2.4ghz and 5ghz freqs all at the same time. Of course, by the time you do that, you're not going to get the Bluetooth chip(s) to fit in a pen.

    Until re-configurable wide-band wireless data tranceivers arrive, I'm afraid we're all stuck playing the stupid "which least fit, poorly engineered standard will gain the most market share and wipe out better alternatives" game. And at the moment, 802.11b is it with regard to data (and oddly enough, bluetooth is probably going to be the standard for the pseudo-analog signal... and by that I mean audio primarily... which is where you will see bluetooth being the most activly used... all you dumb-asses with Ericsson headsets can now look foolish for setting on an non-steero solution... too bad you're going to have to re-invest in Bluetooth once the first MP3 Bluetooth audio mixer comes on the market... and hey you marketing b*tches, where's my Bluetooth 1/4" audio jack plug powered with a watch battery to take care of all my "legacy audio" needs?)
  • Bluetooth secure? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zeinfeld (263942) on Monday August 20, 2001 @01:08PM (#2197927) Homepage
    Lots of folk are focussing on the 802.11b WEP break as a reason to switch to Bluetooth. I wonder how many of those people have looked at the security Bluetooth provides?

    It is possible to secure an 802.11b network, just get somebody competent to wrap an IPSEC VPN arround it.

    I am just scanning through the Bluetooth documents, I do not see the tern 'AES' or 'RC4' or any other cipher I am familiar with in the acronyms, I do see the acronym LFSR however. Looks to me like they are using a Linear feedback shift register. If so my guess is that it will be lucky to survive three months of serious analysis.

    I don't see the type of security architecture in Bluetooth that would be needed to support their applications securely. The 'Security Architecture' document appears to be one long explanation of why they are not providing any.

    People should not take the lack of exploits of Bluetooth to indicate that it must be secure. People only started to look at 802.11b security after the devices went on sale branded 'secure'. If somebody wants my input at the design stage they have to pay me for it. If I am going to work for free I want to at least get publicity in return. Breaking a prototype specification does not create publcity and generate consulting gigs.

    I don't buy the argument that Bluetooth is designed to serve a different market to 802.11b. A general purpose LAN will serve any general purpose, end of story.

    The best idea the Bluetooth types have come up with for a killer application to date is allowing my laptop to talk to my cell phone. If I want my laptop making G3 wireless data calls I will get it a PCMCIA card to do just that. I don't want to buy a $300 bluetooth card and a new $500 cell phone. In Europe the standard cellphone contracts now allow multiple phones per household by default. That pricing model will apear in the US if G3 or GPRS are to take off.

    If my wireless keyboard or mouse offendeth my 802.11b network I will cut them off.

    • Bluetooth is "secure" in that its range is relatively short.

      Using Bluetooth is like conversing out loud in a room.

      Using 802.11b is like hooking your phone up to a Deep Purple [google.com] sized sound system in your backyard.

      As with all things Internet-Aged, if you want to assuage your paranoia you need to encrypt your data before you send it and not rely on the network to be secure.

      --Blair
      • Bluetooth is "secure" in that its range is relatively short.

        Sounds like security through obscurity to me.

        As with all things Internet-Aged, if you want to assuage your paranoia you need to encrypt your data before you send it and not rely on the network to be secure.

        My concern is that they are providing an encryption scheme that appears to be based on DIY crypto and I don't know any of the people involved. If it was a Ron Rivest, Phil Rogaway or the like behind the encryption or a Paul Kocher, Matt Blaze or the like behind the protocol I might be less skeptical about the claim 'it ain't been broken it must be secure'.

        If they are using a DIY cipher (the specs are hard to search) then the chances are they are doing it because they are concerned about performance which probably means that they aren't doing enough encryption work for safety.

        Ciphers like AES candidates represent the 'bleeding edge' in terms of performance, Adi Shamir suggested adding a couple of extra rounds because of that (I disagree but thats because adding rounds could introduce a compromise, I would rather use one of the already defined and tested modes with a larger keysize which uses more rounds with a tested key schedule). So if someone comes along with a cipher that is markedly faster than AES one tends to be concerned about the security.

  • I love reading about Bluetooth! Some of the examples I've read:

    "You walk into an airport, and they beam your ticket to your cell phone or PDA." I've seen the airlines lose my luggage before; I think they'll find a way to screw up beaming me my ticket. Anyway, this would require some sort of encryption because they'd want to know if my luggage has been with me, am I the person who really owns this PDA, etc. No, I suspect that Bluetooth will really result in me getting 3 ads for airport gift shops sent to my PDA when I walk in the door.

    "You walk in your house and your Palm automatically synchronizes" Sounds great. My Palm confuses my contact manager too often -- duplicate names, to-do's not checked, meetings duplicated. I do want my PDA doing anything without my permission first.

    No, I expect Bluetooth will revolutionalize our lives the way infrared in PDAs revolutionalized how we exchange business cards. And *nobody* has printed business cards anymore, right? I work in the telecom industry, and I've seen someone beam a business card maybe 3 times in the last 4 years of the PDA-revolution.
  • Read it in last month's print version; here it is online:

    http://www.sciam.com/2001/0801issue/0801scicit4.ht ml [sciam.com]
  • by mindstrm (20013) on Monday August 20, 2001 @02:09PM (#2198280)
    They are both wireless.. but comparing BlueTooth to 802.11b (PLEASE QUIT calling it 802.11, it's 802.11b, a small PART of 802.11. 802.11 encompases wired ethernet as well) is like comparing satellite transmission gear to your radio controlled model car. They just have nothing to do with each other, other than both use rf. Or to put it in other terms, it's like comparing Apples and Oranges.

    If 802.11b succeeds (it already is) it will have nothing to do with how well Bluetooth does, and vice versa. Once again, to refresh, the point of bluetooth is this:
    A low-cost all-inclusive chipset (1 or 2 chips) that can be added to any device to bluetooth-enable it. YES it's short range, low power. It was *designed* that way; it's not a shortcoming.
    The whole idea was that, rather than have every company design proprietary wireless systems, they should all get together, develop a low-cost spec, and let the new market that's created work for itself.

    of COURSE a palm *could* use 802.11b.... but it takes more power, and is overkill. Confuscious say 'Don't use a cannon to kill a mosquito'

  • by Pope (17780)
    Different uses! Different standards! Amazing!

    Rather like USB vs. FireWire, eh?
    Tho' it's nice to see than Intel has finally seen the light WRT IEEE 1394, rather than trying to shove USB2 down developers' throats for applications that 1394 is much more suited.

  • Bluetooth's use was intended for inter-device communication at short range.

    802.11 is for full-blown wireless networking.

    Bluetooth is good for proximity-based services (neat things like flipping from free long-distance for authorized people when using a company phone, or how about a car door that unlocks as you approach?)
  • I don't want bluetooth as a wireless standard for talking between computers, but I would love to have it for having minor accessories talk to a central hub computer, such as the Anoto [anoto.com] pen. What with all this talk about 802.11b being so unsecure, there should be room for another standard in the mix.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

Working...