Bluetooth Low Energy Prepares to Jump to 6GHz for Another 20 Years of Wireless Progress

Taking a leaf from Wi-Fi's book, Bluetooth Low Energy is about to make the jump to the 6GHz band — boosting performance as it does.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that it is planning on expanding Bluetooth Low Energy's (BLE's) spectrum coverage to new license-free mid-spectrum frequencies — including the 6GHz band.

"Over the last twenty years, Bluetooth technology has made our lives more productive, safer, healthier, and joyful," claims a clearly enthusiastic Mark Powell, Bluetooth SIG chief executive, of the short-range wireless technology's impact. "The Bluetooth SIG community is constantly evolving the technology to meet ever expanding market demands for wireless communications. Expanding into the 6GHz spectrum band will ensure the community can continue to make the enhancements necessary to pave the way for the next twenty years of Bluetooth innovation."

After development began at Ericsson Mobile 1989 as a means for connecting wireless headsets to mobile phones, Bluetooth grew to a cross-vendor standard with the first Bluetooth-compliant devices launched in 1999. Originally, the Bluetooth standard used a section of the 2.4GHz spectrum — but an upcoming version of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specification will allow it to shift to higher frequencies, increasing data rates and avoiding interference in radio-rich areas.

Just as traditional Bluetooth shares the airwaves with Wi-Fi, though, so too does the new higher-frequency variant — jumping on to the same 6GHz band as Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7. "Designating 6GHz for unlicensed use creates a valuable spectrum resource that is recognized globally for its ability to bring tremendous socioeconomic benefits," says Wi-Fi Alliance chief executive and president Kevin Robinson. "Wi-Fi Alliance looks forward to collaborating with the Bluetooth SIG to ensure our successful co-existence in the band."

The new standard isn't quite ready for release to Bluetooth device makers, however: it is actively under development through the Higher Bands for LE Subgroup of the Bluetooth SIG, part of the Core Specification Working Group — and, at the time of writing, no members had gone public with a roadmap to release.

Additional information is available on the Bluetooth SIG website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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