Bluetooth, developed in the late 1990s, is a technology designed to enable short-range wireless communication between electronic devices, such as between a laptop and a smartphone or between a computer and a television. Bluetooth works by using radio frequencies, rather than the infrared spectrum used by traditional remote controls. As a result, Bluetooth eliminates the need not only for a wire connection but also for maintaining a clear line of sight to communicate between devices.
Wi-Fi is similar to Bluetooth in that it also uses radio waves for high-speed data transfer over short distances without the need for a wire connection. Wi-Fi works by breaking a signal into pieces and transmitting those fragments over multiple radio frequencies. This technique enables the signal to be transmitted at a lower power per frequency and also allows multiple devices to use the same Wi-Fi transmitter. Initially developed in the 1990s, Wi-Fi has undergone several standardization processes, approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), to allow for greater bandwidth in data transfer.
Although both are wireless forms of communication, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi differ in terms of their purpose, capabilities, and other factors. Bluetooth allows for short-range data transfer between devices. Bluetooth technology is useful when transferring information between two or more devices that are near each other when speed is not an issue, such as telephones, printers, modems and headsets. It is best suited to low-bandwidth applications like transferring sound data with telephones (i.e. with a Bluetooth headset) or byte data with hand-held computers (transferring files) or keyboard and mice.
As an example, it is commonly employed in headsets for mobile phones, enabling hands-free phone use. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, allows devices to connect to the Internet. Bluetooth limits the number of devices that can connect at any one time, whereas Wi-Fi is open to more devices and more users. In addition, Bluetooth, because it requires only an adapter on each connecting device, tends to be simpler to use and needs less power than Wi-Fi, although this is achieved at the expense of range and speed of data transfer, in which Wi-Fi typically exceeds Bluetooth’s capabilities.
Wi-Fi is better suited for operating full-scale networks because it enables a faster connection, better range from the base station, and better wireless security (if configured properly) than Bluetooth. For Wi Fi with 802.11b/g the typical range is 32 meters indoors and 95 meters (300 ft) outdoors. 802.11n has greater range. 2.5GHz Wi-Fi communication has greater range than 5GHz. Antennas can also increase range.
Wi-Fi 6 will improve upon Wi-Fi 5 in various ways.
802.11ac, or Wi-Fi 5 was released in 2014, and at the time, was the newest, fasted, and most reliable version of Wi-Fi. However, 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6, is scheduled to be released later this year, and with a number of shiny new features, stands to replace Wi-Fi 5 as the best connectivity option available. A number of successful commercial and industrial trials of the next generation of Wi-Fi have already been performed by companies like Cisco, Boingo and the Wireless Broadband Alliance. The trials demonstrated that, even when used in challenging environments that demand a ton of connected devices — crowded sporting events, highly-trafficked airports and large industrial parks — Wi-Fi 6 succeeded in providing faster speeds, improved security and more reliable connectivity.
The most obvious improvement that Wi-Fi 6 will offer over previous generations of Wi-Fi is, of course, speed. In fact, when used with a single connected device, maximum potential speeds should be up to 40% higher compared to Wi-Fi 5 — a 6.1 Gbps increase. This feat of speed is accomplished through more efficient data encoding, resulting in higher throughput. The chips used to encode and decode the data packet into radio waves are becoming more powerful and more capable of handling extra work. The 9.6 Gbps speed of Wi-Fi 6 is more of a theoretical maximum; however, the beauty of that 9.6 Gbps is that it doesn’t have to go to a single device, but can instead be split up across a whole network of devices, resulting in more speed for each device on the network.
This is because unlike Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 utilizes a channel access method called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, or OFDMA. The method allows for the division of a wireless channel into a large number of sub-channels, with each one carrying data intended for a different device. Wi-Fi 6 also has an improved version of multi-user or MU-MIMO that lets devices respond to the wireless access point at the same time that involves multiple antennas, which let the access point talk to multiple devices at once. With Wi-Fi 5, the access point could talk to devices at the same time, but those devices couldn’t respond at the same time.
Another Wi-Fi 6 capability that will improve performance in congested areas is “spatial frequency re-use.” Currently, access points near each other that are transmitting on the same channel listen and wait for a clear signal before replying. On Wi-Fi 6, wireless access points near each other can be configured to have different Basic Service Set (BSS) “colors,” which are really just a number between 0 and 7. A device on Wi-Fi 6 may notice a transmission with a weak signal and a different “color,” and then ignore this signal and move forward with its own transmission without lag.
Wi-Fi 6 will also offer a new featured called, “target wake time” (TWT) that can tell the device exactly when to put its Wi-Fi radio to sleep and exactly when to wake it up to receive the next transmission as long as the device is connected to the Wi-Fi access point, conserving power, and resulting in longer battery life. Other key features include transmit beamforming, which improves signal power resulting in significantly higher rates at a given range, and 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM), which enables throughput increases by as much as 25% over Wi-Fi 5.
Users are accustomed to a slow connection when say, at a coffee shop where everyone has their laptop, tablet and smart phone hooked up to the same strained Wi-Fi access point. There is nothing more frustrating than finishing your entire iced caramel macchiato latte before a webpage loads. But, with Wi-Fi 6, this frustration might be a thing of the past.
Qualcomm announces new Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6 products
Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, launches a flagship portfolio of mobile connectivity systems that represent the most advanced Wi-Fi 6E offerings of their kind. Building upon our leading Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth audio technology features, the Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 and Qualcomm FastConnect 6700 mobile connectivity systems feature the fastest available Wi-Fi speeds in the industry (up to 3.6 Gbps) on a mobile Wi-Fi offering, VR-class low latency and Bluetooth advancements delivering immersive audio experiences for classic and emerging LE Audio use cases.
“With the introduction of the FastConnect 6900 and 6700 solutions, Qualcomm Technologies is redefining the mobile experience by extending the power of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6 GHz band and advancing wireless audio with cutting-edge integrated Bluetooth 5.2 features,” said Dino Bekis, vice president and general manager, mobile and compute connectivity, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “These innovations enable us to further break away from the pack and deliver a connectivity portfolio optimized to accelerate global adoption across multiple smartphone tiers.”
“Wi-Fi 6E delivers an unprecedented improvement in capacity to meet the rapid growth of connected devices and data demand. The introduction of supporting chipsets so soon after the FCC ruling ensures customers will see the benefits quickly and is an indicator of both Qualcomm Technologies’ investment and broad industry collaboration,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president, research, Americas, CCS Insights. “Wi-Fi Alliance® members have mobilized around 6 GHz in an unprecedented way, and we’re excited to see Wi-Fi 6E solutions rapidly coming to market with the availability of new unlicensed spectrum in the U.S.,” said Kevin Robinson, Senior VP of Marketing, Wi-Fi Alliance. “Solutions like these from Qualcomm will help users fully experience Wi-Fi® in 6 GHz and quickly benefit from faster speeds, higher capacity, and lower latency applications.”
Next-Generation Wi-Fi 6E for Mobile and Computing
New portfolio extends advanced Wi-Fi 6 feature implementations into the 6 GHz band. Key features include:
Unmatched Wi-Fi Speed:
FastConnect 6900 offers the fastest available Wi-Fi 6 speed, up to 3.6 Gbps, of any mobile Wi-Fi offering in the industry.
FastConnect 6700 delivers impressive peak speeds approaching 3 Gbps.
Driving this performance for both FastConnect systems are differentiated features such as:
Qualcomm® 4K QAM (2.4, 5, 6 GHz) – an industry first implementation of this advanced modulation technique can extend the maximum QAM rate, across any supported band, from 1K to 4K for enhanced gaming and ultra HD streaming.
160 MHz channels support in both 5 and 6GHz bands, dramatically expanding throughput while reducing congestion.
FastConnect 6900 delivers an extra boost of performance through additional unique feature implementation of 4-stream Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) with multi-band (including 6 GHz) capabilities.
Essential Improvement of Capacity and Network Efficiency: Delivering reliable performance, even in the most congested home, enterprise and public networks. 6 GHz dramatically expands Wi-Fi capacity by adding up to 1200 MHz of additional spectrum, more than doubling the number of pathways currently available for sending and receiving data.
Dual band 160 MHz supports up to seven additional non-overlapping channels in the 6 GHz band, in addition to 160 MHz channels available in the 5 GHz band. Deploys high-performance Uplink / Downlink MU-MIMO and OFDMA mobile technologies across all available bands.
New Wi-Fi 6 Uplink MU-MIMO capability can increase network capacity by more than 2.5x. Ultra-Low Latency: A new class of low latency and high speed for emerging mobile applications, providing the foundation for explosive growth in mobile gaming and XR application.
Feature implementation delivers latency reduction up to 8x in congested environments for dramatically improved mobile gaming experiences. Wireless VR-class latency (<3ms) for Head Mounted Displays (HMD) provides a strong foundation for this rapidly growing industry segment. Advanced Technology and Power Efficiency: Power savings due to less channel congestion and improved scheduling. 14nm process node combined with advanced power-management architecture provides up to 50 percent improvement in power efficiency, compared to previous generation solutions.
Bluetooth 5.2 with Advanced Audio
FastConnect 6900 and 6700 integrate Bluetooth 5.2 with the latest audio advancements for greatly improved wireless experiences. Key features include: Leading Bluetooth 5.2 implementation includes a second Bluetooth antenna with intelligent switching capabilities, overcoming common signal shadowing issues for unparalleled Bluetooth reliability and range.
Engineered to be ready to address emerging LE Audio experiences such as multi-point audio sharing and broadcast audio, enabling multiple audio connections simultaneously.
Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive supporting wire-equivalent audio (up to 96kHz) and Qualcomm® aptX™ Voice providing super-wideband quality calls. End-to-End Enhanced Experiences. When paired with the premium features of Qualcomm® QCC5141, QCC5144, QCC3046 and QCC3040 Audio SoCs, users can expect robust, premium audio quality with low power consumption. Innovative transmit power and coexistence algorithms deliver materially improved range and link robustness.
“As consumer expectations for always-on, flawless streaming video and crystal-clear audio continue to grow dramatically worldwide, modern applications and devices face increasing challenges with respect to battery life, data rates, range and security,” said Bryan Chang, General Manager of the ASUS Phone business unit. “Our collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies allows us to deliver the latest capabilities in our devices and solidify our position in the industry a leading provider that values and meets our customers’ needs.”
“Our long-standing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies allows us to deliver high-quality, breakthrough technologies to our global customers. The FastConnect platforms will allow us to integrate multi-tasking capabilities into our phones, along with wireless display interfaces, which – when combined with the power of 5G – will help our customers to boost productivity and efficiency.” said David Yoon Vice president of MC Product Planning Division at LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.
Levin Liu, Vice President, Head of OPPO Research Institute said: “The launch of the two new systems highlights Qualcomm Technologies extension of its successful Wi-Fi 6 portfolio into the cutting-edge 6 GHz band for a transformative Wi-Fi 6E performance. Based on the long-term solid cooperation with Qualcomm Technologies, we expect to bring the premium experience including the unmatched speed and ultra-low latency to our customers who pursue the ultimate connectivity experience.”
“With more devices accessing home and public Wi-Fi networks nowadays, the new Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth technology features are primed to solve for modern connectivity challenges,” said Kinder Liu, VP of OnePlus. “The high-speed connectivity, ultra-low latency and superior Bluetooth audio characteristics delivered by the Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6900 and Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6700 mobile connectivity systems will bring users with an extreme connectivity and audio experience with an improved network capacity and efficiency by supporting multi-user access.” “We are looking forward to seeing the future with Wi-Fi 6E solutions from Qualcomm Technologies and making it widely available to the industry” said Shigeru Kobayashi, general manager of SHARP Personal Communications Division.
“Xiaomi has kept a long-term collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies. We are glad to witness that Qualcomm Technologies has once again ushered in a new era of Wi-Fi performance and capability. The Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6900 and Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6700 mobile connectivity systems will enable Xiaomi with a strong and robust immersive Wi-Fi 6E and premium audio experience for its products, helping Xiaomi maintain advantages in the competition.” Said Guoquan Zhang, General Manager of Xiaomi Mobile System Software. The FastConnect 6900 and 6700 solutions are sampling now and will ship in production during the second half of 2020.
InPlay Launches Breakthrough SMULL Technology – Proprietary Synchronized Multi-Node Ultra Low-latency Wireless Radio
InPlay Inc. announced SMULL (Synchronized Multi-node Ultra Low-Latency) technology, its proprietary wireless communication technology. Compared to traditional local wireless connectivity technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, this technology offers less than one-tenth of the communication latency between multiple local nodes in a network. It fundamentally solves the high-latency communication (non-real-time) problem in traditional wireless technologies. The technology will enable many latency-critical wireless applications, such as game controllers, wireless audio, healthcare, and industrial robot control, etc. Developers using SMULL technology can quickly and efficiently address the latency challenges to provide the best user experience and value to end customers.
SMULL technology is based on a star network topology with a single network supporting up to 128 edge nodes. It supports Unicast, Multicast, and Broadcast communication modes. Also, its synchronization protocol ensures that the communication between the local nodes in the same network is not cross interfered; In the meantime, SMULL technology supports adaptive frequency hopping technology, so that the nodes in the network can adapt to cleaner frequency bands in the presence of interference to ensure the communication quality.
“We are excited to introduce SMULL technology to the market today,” said Jason Wu, Co-Founder, and CEO of InPlay Inc, “The release of this innovative technology fills a technology gap for local wireless connectivity technologies and provides a trusted technology platform for new and challenging wireless applications. We want developers to rely on the convenience and low latency feature of SMULL technology to deliver truly innovative and competitive wireless products and services to the market.” InPlay plans to launch a range of wireless chipset products based on SMULL technology and the first-gen chipset will become available as early as June 2020.