Monday, May 10, 2010

Where Did Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Come From?

Where Did Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Come From? Part 1

May 9th will be the 25th anniversary of the Report and Order in Docket 81-413 that created the regulatory basis for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a variety of other lesser known products. While many people think it is the origin of unlicensed systems, unlicensed has been allowed since the late 1930s but under restrictive rules that allowed a certain frequencies to be used for narrowly restricted applications in response to industry requests. What set the May 1985 decision apart was the lack of restrictions on use, interference focused technical regulations, and more generous transmitter power than previously allowed.

Your blogger would love to be able to document that in the early 1980s he foresaw the need for wireless LANs and thus planned the rules or this application. In the early 1980s LAN technology was known to techies, Bob Metcalfe was an MIT classmate. But there was no general consensus that LANs would ever be widespread or that RLANs were needed.

As has been said previously, technology moves at “Internet speed” and governments move at “government speed”. Thus it would have been impossible to directly anticipate such a need. Several years later the European Union did anticipate the RLAN need and tried to address it with its GSM-like consensus standards process. The result was HiperLAN which never had much impact.

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