Upcoming Bluetooth 5 Spec Doubles Data Rate, Quadruples Range

Brace yourself folks, a new version of Bluetooth is coming and it brings some significant changes to the wireless standard. Chief among them are faster data speeds that are twice what they are in the current version while extending the wireless range fourfold, Bluetooth Special Interest Group executive director Mark Powell revealed in an email sent to U.K. health and monitoring company Blue Maestro.

In his email, Powell notes the next iteration will simply be called Bluetooth 5. The decision to drop references to version and point number was a conscious one by SIG members, which includes companies like Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, to simplify marketing and avoid confusion. it will also make it easier to signal significant technology updates in the future.


In addition to boosting speed and extending range, Bluetooth 5 will be location-aware to work better with connected services. You might walk into a department store and connect to a Bluetooth beacon that beams of a map of the layout. If you came for something specific, a Bluetooth beacon could guide you to where the item is you're looking for, to name just one of many possible uses.

One thing to keep in mind with Bluetooth 5 is that in order take advantage of its faster speed and other fancy new features, you'll likely need new devices. Your existing Bluetooth gadgets will still work, they just won't enjoy the same benefits as Bluetooth 5 hardware. It's akin to connecting a laptop with an 802.11n wireless adapter to an 802.11ac router—it'll work, just not at Wireless-AC speeds, nor will it will take advantage of feature of beamforming.

Work on the Bluetooth 5 spec is wrapping up and will be formally introduced on June 16, Powell said.


We just heard word from Bluetooth SIG that in the original email/newsletter that Mark Powell sent out, it incorrectly stated that Bluetooth 5 doubles the distance and quadruples the data rate. The reverse is true—Bluetooth 5 doubles the data rate and quadruples the range. We've corrected our article accordingly.