Amid the hoopla surrounding the arrival of technologies based on the Bluetooth wireless specification, one consensus came out loud and clear at a recent seminar in Toronto: don’t expect it in the enterprise for at least a number of months.

Presented by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Bluetooth Wireless Technology – The Future Without Wires was held last month in Etobicoke, Ont., and featured speakers and panellists from both developers and potential users of Bluetooth and Bluetooth products.

One event attendee, a network administrator with a national company, said he went to the event to learn about what the technology is, how it works, and what it might potentially mean if it were implemented across his enterprise. After a few presentations, he noted that he can’t foresee a lot of use for Bluetooth within the enterprise – at least not yet.

Jeff Rabin, a technology analyst with Dundee Securities Corp. in Toronto, wholeheartedly agreed, and explained that Bluetooth will initially be “more useful on the domestic and individual front than the enterprise-wide front. That will come, but later.”

Enterprises have historically been conservative when it comes to adopting technology, Rabin said. The enterprise has to be maintained, and by being conservative, they are able to maintain reliability. For that reason, he said there will be a delay in its adoption on the enterprise side.

Anyone present who was unsure of just what the technology was got several explanations – almost every presenter took a stab at outlining it – but there was also an opportunity for questions, and a broader look at just when Bluetooth will fully arrive into the marketplace.

“The pressure’s on, and I think that if we didn’t see it (Bluetooth) by the end of this year, it would be a disaster,” noted Rabin, who was a panellist at the event.

“There’s a lot of evidence that suggests we’re not going to have this disaster,” he added. He explained that by the third quarter of this year, a lot of handsets that come out will be Bluetooth-enabled.

But the first place Bluetooth will likely make an appearance is in cable replacement, Rabin said, especially given the wired mess behind most desktops. With all the cables required for desktops, laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs), Bluetooth will create a more cable-friendly atmosphere.

Vendors, meanwhile, have all sorts of plans for the technology. While Bluetooth does look promising in a lot of areas, the question that seemed to be on a lot of people’s minds – and one that was addressed at the event – was what Bluetooth will mean for another hot wireless topic: 802.11.

“First of all, there’s not just one 802.11 – there’s about 15 of them,” said Rabin, adding that it’s tricky to set up correctly “because of competing standards, different ways that people are executing it.…You really need IT people to do it,” Rabin said.

The 802.11 technology is also very power-hungry. But for a corporate environment, such as Microsoft Campus, users are able to do things such as take their laptops, sit under a tree, get into Lotus Notes and find out what’s going on, Rabin said.

“It’s just a wonderful thing. Bluetooth does not have the guts to do this.”

Both of the technologies lie in the same frequency spectrum – 2.4GHz – which has raised some questions and concerns over interoperability, and what one technology will mean to the other. What essentially seems to be occurring is some good old-fashioned mudslinging, according to Rabin.

“There was a lot of vested interest in the 802.11 guys disparaging Bluetooth, and there’s a lot of vested interest in Bluetooth guys – not disparaging 802.11 – but arguing that there’s not a real issue,” he explained.

A lot of testing results that Rabin has seen indicate that the devices can co-exist “quite happily. In fact, the major chip manufacturers are actually putting the same devices on the same chips because they have intelligent ways of switching back between (the two).”

The issue of physical or technical incompatibility seems to be untrue, he said.

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