It’s official: Bluetooth 3.0 is coming. The Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) will officially launch Bluetooth 3.0 on April 21st. Previously called Bluetooth UWB, the new Bluetooth 3.0 standard is expected to deliver faster short-range wireless speeds that are at least 18 times faster than the current 2.0 + EDR version. More specifically, the standard is said to support up to 480 Mb/s. Even over distances between 6 feet and 30 feet, the Bluetooth 3.0 data rate is expected to be at least 53.3 Mb/s, and more likely in the range of about 100 Mb/s. Bluetooth 3.0 also includes improvements that will reduce the chances of disconnections when syncing.
With the addition of Generic Alternate MAC/PHY (AMP) technology, Bluetooth 3.0 will be able to transfer data at speeds that are comparable to Wi-Fi. The Bluetooth 3.0 standard enables the Bluetooth frequency to piggyback on the Wi-Fi 802.11 protocol, essentially allowing for Bluetooth over Wi-Fi. With this 802.11 Protocol Adaption Layer (PAL), Bluetooth will be used to create the pairing between two devices but the data will actually transfer over Wi-Fi. In order to take advantage of the higher transfer speeds, both devices must have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities. If Wi-Fi isn’t present on one of the devices, Bluetooth will be used for data transfer.
The Bluetooth SIG claims Bluetooth 3.0 can wirelessly transfer an entire music library, a complete DVD, or a vacation’s worth of photos in a matter of seconds. In addition to increased speed, Bluetooth 3.0 could also feature Enhanced Power Control which would reduce headset disconnections when you put the phone in a pocket or purse.
When it comes to wireless data transfer technology, Bluetooth has always remained in the shadow of Wi-Fi. For serious personal networking connections, many people thought Bluetooth would never offer fast enough speeds to get the job done. With the new Bluetooth 3.0 standard, this could change since Bluetooth 3.0 will rival the bandwidth of Wireless USB and will outpace Wi-Fi.
We don’t yet have any details about Bluetooth 3.0-ready devices, but many analysts expect the Bluetooth SIG to release a list of manufacturers that have products ready to go on April 21. Intel is one chip maker that is likely to be on board. We’re hoping consumer-ready Bluetooth 3.0 devices won’t be too far off from the launch, but it will take some time before our mobile phones and other gear fully take advantage of the technology.