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The Phony Conflict: IEEE" 802.11 and Bluetooth" Wireless Technology

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In this article, Brent A. Miller addresses the relationship between two methods for wireless communication: IEEE 802.11 WLAN and Bluetooth WPAN technologies. Learn about how these technologies are optimized for specific usage cases and why the two technologies are complementary, rather than competitive with one another.
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First published by IBM developerWorks at http://www.ibm.com/developerWorks/.


Numerous forms of wireless communication exist: radio frequency, satellite, infrared, and others. Two methods of wireless communication, namely IEEE 802.11 and Bluetooth technologies, are getting a lot of attention right now in the information technology industry. Press reports often claim that these two are competitors, and conclude that IEEE 802.11 will win out at the expense of Bluetooth technology.

We assert here, though, that these two technologies do not, in fact, compete with each other in any significant fashion. Indeed, we view them as complementary, and expect each to succeed on its own merits.

IEEE 802.11 is a wireless local area networking (WLAN) technology, whereas Bluetooth wireless technology is one well-suited for a wireless personal area network (WPAN). The two technologies share some characteristics and overlap slightly in some usage models, but fundamentally they serve different purposes.

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