What is Bluetooth? - 08.16.01

Bill Day



Bluetooth technology consists of a set of hardware and software standards (specified by the Bluetooth SIG) specifying how devices can communicate wirelessly in unlicensed 2.4GHz band.

A network of up to seven Bluetooth devices forms using master-slave relationships and is referred to as a "piconet". Piconets may in turn federate via common members to form a network of piconets, known as a "scatternet".

Bluetooth radios are optimized for transmission over relatively short distances, usually 30 meters or less. Bluetooth is meant to be used for Personal Area Networks (PANs) and, more recently, wireless data access points (akin to and somewhat competing with IEEE 802.11 wireless ethernet). If problems occur during transmission, Bluetooth devices "frequency hop" to attempt to find a less noisy frequency.

Note: This FAQ entry supplements a related Jini FAQ entry on Bluetooth.

To learn more about how Bluetooth relates to IEEE 802.11, HomeRF, J2ME, and other wireless technologies, watch my "Rapid Fire Wireless 101" webcast, available from: