Wireless Network Administration: Bluetooth Basics - dummies

Wireless Network Administration: Bluetooth Basics

Bluetooth is the name of a short-range wireless network technology that’s designed to let devices connect to each other without need for cables or a Wi-Fi network access point. The two main uses for Bluetooth are to connect peripheral devices such as keyboards or mice to a computer and to connect hand-held devices such as phones and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) to computers.

Here are just a few of the many uses of Bluetooth:

  • Wirelessly connecting a keyboard and mouse to a computer so that you don’t have to fuss with cables. This is marginally useful for desktop computers because it eliminates the need for cables. But it’s even more useful for laptop computers because it lets you use a keyboard and mouse simply by placing them next to the laptop.

  • Synchronizing the address book in your cell phone with your computer’s address book, with no cables.

  • Exchanging files between your Pocket PC or Palm PDA and your laptop or desktop computers.

  • Using a cord-free headset with your cell phone.

  • Connecting a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to a computer so that it can track your location. This is especially useful when used in your car with a laptop, Pocket PC, or Palm PDA.

  • Swapping electronic business cards between handheld computers.

For you technical enthusiasts out there, here’s a whole section that gets the Technical Stuff icon. The following paragraphs point out some of the important and obscure technical highlights of Bluetooth:

  • Bluetooth was originally developed in 1998 by a consortium of companies, including IBM, Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, and Toshiba. Not wanting to be left out of the action, IEEE turned Bluetooth into a standard called 802.15.

  • Bluetooth operates in the same 2.4-GHz bandwidth as 802.11 Wi-Fi networks. Although it’s possible for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks to interfere with one another, Bluetooth includes features that usually minimize or eliminate this interference.

  • Bluetooth is slow — about 721 Kbps, way slower than Wi-Fi networks. Bluetooth isn’t designed to transport large amounts of data, such as huge video files. For that, you should use Wi-Fi.

  • Bluetooth devices periodically “sniff” the air to see whether other Bluetooth devices are nearby so that they can automatically hook up.

  • Bluetooth has very low power requirements. As a result, it’s ideal for battery-powered devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

  • Bluetooth comes in three flavors, as described in the following table. Class 1 is the most powerful form of Bluetooth and the most commonly used. Class 2 is ideal for devices such as wireless mice or keyboards and wireless cell phone headsets, which need to communicate only at close range. Class 3 is for the rare devices that operate at even closer range.

Bluetooth Classes
Class Power Range
Class 1 100 mW 300 feet (100 meters)
Class 2 10 mW 30 feet (10 meters)
Class 3 1 mW < 30 feet (10 meters)
  • Bluetooth was originally conceived by cell phone giant Ericsson as a way to connect a wireless earpiece to a cell phone. As the developers worked on the idea, they soon realized that the technology had uses far beyond wireless earpieces for cell phones.

  • The name Bluetooth is an English translation of Harald Blatand, a Viking king who united Denmark and Norway in the 10th century.