Bluetooth 5 spec promises increased speed, range, and throughput

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.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Will it finally allow iFans to send and receive photos from us cheap mortals who are on Android?

    • blastdoor
    • 3 years ago

    To quote John Gruber:

    [quote<]"Next year it will work great" should be the motto of Bluetooth.[/quote<]

      • End User
      • 3 years ago

      Daring Fireball is in my top 10 of sites I go to on a daily basis. Gruber is way off on this topic. I’d die without Bluetooth.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        It’s fine for the most part, but when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The aftermarket bluetooth in our van is a great example. My wife complains because her iPhone gets disconnected periodically. I’m about to chuck the unit for other reasons. Turning it to another input and back is enough to fix this, though.

          • End User
          • 3 years ago

          That is not the fault of bluetooth. That is just a crappy product.

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    It’s still the disastrous 2.4GHz band.

    So many things use 2.4GHz now that it’s a collision-tastic, high-latency mess. I have Bluetooth mice from Logitech and Microsoft and Bluetooth headphones that I’ve used with various laptops (Intel and Atheros adapters) as well as CSR dongles for desktops and in most locations Bluetooth is problematic with sound latency and jitter, or obvious mouse latency.

    They really need a new radio frequency for this stuff.

      • designerfx
      • 3 years ago

      This isn’t quite an answer, there are literally tons of reasons why we use 2.4ghz. We can’t just magically switch frequencies. [url<]http://gizmodo.com/5629814/giz-explains-why-everything-wireless-is-24ghz[/url<] . Then you get to what's already in use, of which the answer is: a hell of a lot more than a bluetooth mouse and headphones. [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13-centimeter_band[/url<]

        • Chrispy_
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah, it’s more that 2.4GHz is for range and penetration and it suffers because of the sheer congestion with every other RF device in an office/household.

        5GHz is far less congested, and less used because it has shorter range and penetration. That shouldn’t matter though, most bluetooth things are for use in “personal space” range and the signal needs to penetrate clothing or work within a single room in 99% of use cases.

        I’d gladly take the higher bandwidth and lower congestion of 5GHz if it were available on bluetooth. Congestion at 2.4GHz is a real problem and when Bluetooth is often used for audio or input devices, the latency and inconsistency caused by packet collisions, timouts and resends are very noticeable. Wireshark on a 2.4GHz connection is as enlightening as it is depressing.

          • UberGerbil
          • 3 years ago

          Yeah, back when Bluetooth was just arriving I [i<]assumed[/i<] it was on the 5GHz band precisely because shorter range is a [i<]feature[/i<] for a "personal area network" technology like that, and at the time only 802.11a was in that band (and hardly anybody used it; I had my trusty LinkSys WAP set to use it exclusively because my urban neighborhood was already filling up with b/g hotspots but .11a was deserted, and I didn't need more range). Trouble is, now that the standard is established I'm sure they don't want to get into the kind of USB 3.x mess that would result from having new hardware using a separate band (even if it also could fall back to 2.4). Though because BT already has an issue with audio quality, and audio is probably the largest single user of sustained BT bandwidth, there's probably an opportunity for the BT SIG to introduce an audio-specific BT subvariant (with some kind of snazzy, beats-audio-style branding) mandating better codecs and using the 5GHz band. Of course, there's a chicken-and-egg issue with devices, but given the turnover in phones (and assuming the necessary circuits got added to the SoCs as matter of course) that would eventually go away -- and I'm sure all the makers of BT speakers and audio devices would [i<]love[/i<] the opportunity to sell everybody a new version all over again -- especially if they could tout genuinely higher audio quality (even though most people seem perfectly happy with what they're getting over BT right now). That said, the penetration capability of 2.4MHz comes in handy sometimes. I put in a Grom Audio kit to replace the high-tech-for-the-early-90s CD changer in the trunk of my car, and was shocked to discover the Blutetooth dongle happily connected to my phone even though two firewalls (the physical, metal kind) and the entire engine was blocking the line-of-sight (it's a mid-engine car).

          • designerfx
          • 3 years ago

          I’d agree, bluetooth is using crowded airspace. However, they are trying to compensate for it by simply hopping a billion subchannels. Adoption will likely drop sharply if they change frequency. Nothing that exists currently is really designed to compensate for the congestion, because 5ghz could potentially reach equivalent congestion to 2.4ghz soon enough, and then what? We are still talking a single improved approach to a single frequency range in an era of software defined radios, etc.

          Wireless technology in general needs to be looking either a different way to handle a frequency range or look for an alternative. 60ghz’s short range is nice/ideal for certain things and I don’t get why it’s not used for things that fit it’s range, for example. Say even 60ghz is being used for fast transmissions – it shouldn’t *only* be used for fast transmissions. It would make sense to instead have things go similarly to lower frequency ranges at further distances, but then this requires everything else to accommodate the same. Such as 60ghz/5ghz/2.4ghz/900mhz falloff or something equivalent to how cellphones can operate.

            • UberGerbil
            • 3 years ago

            Well, the solution to congestion in general is Ultra Wideband. But that has a chequered history already (mostly because of business, not technical issues), and while I know the BT SIG was looking at adopting it back in the BT 4.0 spec timeframe, Wikipedia tells me that failed because of vague IP issues.

            • Chrispy_
            • 3 years ago

            The solution to congestion is to stop allowing the FCC to hog all the useful bandwidth with legacy crap like analogue TV and radio. 99.99999% of modern radio usage is happening in 0.000001% of the available EM spectrum because AM radio and analogue TV need that space for important stuff like shopping channels to rip off the elderly.

            Yes. I’m that cynical.

      • albundy
      • 3 years ago

      i stopped using BT headphones since it messed with my keyboard and mouse. every time i turned them on, a key would get stuck and mouse would get stuck on a click. went back to RF everything and will never look back.

      • tsk
      • 3 years ago

      Really? I’ve never ever had any problems with bluetooth 4.0 and newer verions, in any enviornment.

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