Bluetooth 5 spec promises increased speed, range, and throughput

— 10:08 AM on December 8, 2016

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group pulled back the curtain on the Bluetooth 5 Core Specification. According to the SIG, the new specification's low-energy mode should now offer up to twice the bandwidth and four times the range of the Bluetooth 4.2 spec. The SIG says these improvements should allow developers to carefully tailor their hardware and application's data transmission requirements.

Bluetooth claims that the new standard offers eight times the broadcasting message capacity of Bluetooth 4.2 by providing support for larger data packets. Data packets can now comprise 255 octets, an increase from the 31-octet limit of the previous spec. Bluetooth 5 also allows devices to use broadcasting channels more efficiently. Advertising data can be offloaded from the three traditional advertising channels to one of the 37 possible broadcasting channels. Additionally, mobile phone developers can use slot availability masks to detect and prevent interference on neighboring bands.

Developers using Bluetooth's low-energy mode should also be able to take advantage of longer range or increased bandwidth. The Bluetooth SIG says that devices will be able to transfer larger chunks of data by increasing the spec's bandwidth to 2 Mbps. In applications where range is more important than bandwidth, Bluetooth 5 allows developers to decrease bandwidth to boost the device's range by up to a factor of four. Bluetooth indicates that the system is flexible, allowing developers to adjust range and speed as best fits their application.

The full specifications for Bluetooth 5 are now available. The SIG expects Bluetooth 5 products to start showing up in the first half of 2017.

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