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Bluetooth Protocol (Part 1): Basics

and Working
Written By:

Bijal Parikh

Handheld devices like a cell phone, palmtop and laptop were rapidly becoming an integral part of our
daily lives. In most cases, these devices do not have compatible data communication interfaces, or, if
they do, the interface requires cumbersome cable connections and configuration procedures. Isnt it
absolutely fantastic to connect your PC to share music, data and calendar info without using any wires?
Or to wirelessly access phone numbers on your PDA from your cell phone. Driving without holding the
handset makes it dramatically safer and easier. Accessing the internet, print files from your computer and
print photos taken from a digital camera without a single piece of wire lying in your office.

An obvious solution was to get rid of the cables and use short-range, wireless, inexpensive and universally
adopted by device vendors to facilitate on-demand connectivity among devices .The marvel of
engineering gave us the freedom of exchanging data without using yards of wires and popularly
known as Bluetooth. It all started back in 1994 when Ericsson Mobile Communications began a utilitarian
assessment on an inexpensive low-power radio solution between cell phones and phone accessories. The
idea was to build a small radio both in cellular phones and laptop that would replace the cumbersome wires
between them. Four years later Ericsson, along with Nokia, IBM, Toshiba and Intel formed the Bluetooth
Special Interest Group (SIG). These were the leading companies in the field of mobiles, notebook
computers and leaders in the digital market technology. With such big names of the field it immediately
grabbed the media attention and there were very high expectations from the product. But a lot of
complexities and problems were faced initially. Then in 1999 first Bluetooth spec 1.0 was launched and a
year later spec 1.1. Today, the Bluetooth SIG has 3,400 companies.

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for connecting fixed or mobile devices using short
radio link. It aims at providing wireless communication along with small size, minimal power
consumption and low price. The technology was designed to be simple, and the target was to have
it become standard in wireless connectivity. The name of Bluetooth has a very interesting story. The
Bluetooth SIG adopted the code name as a tribute to the tenth-century Viking king Harald Blatand who
peacefully united numerous small kingdoms under his region that were working under different rules same
as done in Bluetooth technology. Harald liked to eat blueberries, which gave his teeth the coloration that
lead to the nickname "Bluetooth."The symbol is also famous as its name and has a very interesting origin.
The logo combines the representation of the Nordic runes Hagalaz (transcribed by 'H') and Berkana
(transcribed by 'B') in the same symbol. This is, HB like Harald Blatand.

What makes Bluetooth special when wireless technologies like IrDA and Wi-Fi existed?

Pitting these technologies against each other would be unfair as each of them have their unique advantages
and complement rather than compete with each other. Though IrDA supported wireless connectivity they
needed optical contact that is direct line of sight and supported one to one data exchange using infra-red
light. For example a remote control and television where we need to hold remote in line of sight of television.
In the same way Wi-Fi offers a means to wirelessly connect one or more computers to each other and a
router so that we can access the Internet. It uses longer distances and transfer data at faster rate as well
but Bluetooth offers a means to link not just computers, but PDAs, headphones, headsets, printersand other
technology with each other. The figure below represents the three networks.

Wireless communication made easy a tag line used to address Bluetooth but it is only for users not for
the developers. The demands of creating Bluetooth-enabled products are very challenging. It should be
flexible application topology so the exchange takes place between the required devices. Power required
by Bluetooth should be low as no one wants a short battery life. Size is a important feature while
designing. It should be small so adding Bluetooth capability to a device should not noticeably increase its
size. A Quality of service is supported for voice and last but not the least Bluetooth cannot cost more than
The promise of Bluetooth- What it can do!!

The promise of Bluetooth is extremely ambitious. Originally conceived as a low-power, short range
technology to replace cables interconnecting devices such as printers, keyboards and mine. It has evolved
its perceived potential to a much larger extent. It has given rise to Personal area network where everything
is accessible within the Personal Operating Space that is related to communicating information both voice
and data. There are various examples where Bluetooth model has been used.

As we can see initially Bluetooth was started in the area of mobile phone. Every manufacturer started
implementing Bluetooth enabled devices in the phones. The reason behind this adoption was to use
wireless headset with the phone which meant phone can be used even if it is in a briefcase or trunk. It was
used to make a mobile phone or cordless modem to provide Dial Up networking which allows connecting
to internet without any physical phone line. Laptop can automatically utilize the users nearby cell phone to
dial and connect to dial-up service. Peer to peer file exchange can be done without the presence of network
infrastructure. For example a salesperson can share the contents of electronic slides with the audience.
Bluetooth enables automatic detection of Bluetooth devices in the room enabling the transfer. Data
synchronization between the devices is permitted by Bluetooth. For example a Bluetooth enabled desktop
computer can wirelessly synchronize its contact list, task information, calendar to a users phone, PDA, or
notebook. Nowadays, HP is making printers and notebooks with embedded Bluetooth technology so they
can automatically detect Bluetooth enabled printers in their area and wirelessly send documents to the
printer without going through lengthy network and printing set-up process.
How does bluetooth work?

Bluetooth is a short range communication that is simple, secure and available everywhere. Billions
of devices ranging from mobile phones and computers to medical devices and home entertainment
products are enabled with Bluetooth devices.

In simple terms Bluetooth takes the information normally carried by wire and transmits it at a special
frequency to another Bluetooth device. Both sending and receiving devices have same Bluetooth
receiver chip, which translates data into wireless transmission and then back to normal again
depending on the sender or receiver. Any Bluetooth device can be a master or slave depending on
the application.Every device is equipped with a microchip (trans-receiver) that transmits and receives in
the frequency of 2.4 GHz which is available to the whole world. Besides the information, there are three
channels of voices available. The information can be exchanged at a speed up-to 1 megabit per second or
2 megabit for second in Second Generation of this Technology). Frequency hopping allows communicating
inclusively without interferences. The transmitted data is divided into packets and each packet is transmitted
on one of the 79 designated Bluetooth channels. Each channel has a bandwidth of 1 MHzs. The first
channel starts at 2402 MHz and continues up to 2480 MHz in 1 MHz steps. It usually performs 800 hops
per second, with Adaptive Frequency-Hopping enabled. The master sets the hopping sequence, and the
slaves synchronize to the Master. A cluster is formed by a master and up to seven active slaves known as
Pico nets. The slaves in a Pico net only communicate with the master. A scatter net can be formed by
linking two or more Pico nets. When a device is present in more than one Pico net, it must time-share and
synchronize to the master of the Pico net with which it is currently communicating. Networks in Bluetooth
are far more diverse and dynamic. As they are constantly formed and dissolved Bluetooth devices move in
and out of range so there are limitless ways to connect them. The figure below summarizes the Bluetooth
With the basic understanding of information exchange in Bluetooth system we now move ahead to


The Bluetooth operates in the frequency range of 2.4 GHz. Though this band is available worldwide it may
differ in some countries. This is the frequency band of scientific and medical industries 2.45 GHz (ISM*).
The ISM* is opened for any system of radio and take care of the interferences of monitors, the controls for
doors of garage, the wireless telephone and microwave oven. The ranges of the bandwidth in The United
States and Europe are between 2.400 to 2.483,5 MHz and it covers part of France and Spain. The range
of the bandwidth in Japan is between 2.471 to 2.497 MHz So the system can be used worldwide due to
that transmitters of radio covers 2.400 and 2.500 MHz and makes it possible to select the appropriate
frequency. ISM The industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands were originally reserved
internationally for the use of RF electromagnetic fields for industrial, scientific and medical purposes other
than communications. In general, communications equipment must accept any interference generated by
ISM equipment.

Country Frequency range RF channels

Europe & USA 2400-2483.5 MHz F =2402 + k MHz k = 0,..,78

Japan 2471-2497 MHz F =2473+ k MHz k=0,22

Spain 2445-2475 MHz F =2449+ k MHz K=0,22

France 2446.5-2483.5 MHz F =2454+ k MHz K=0,..22

Table representing frequency band of various countries.


According to the power of emission the equipments are qualified in 3 categories ranging from 1mW to
10mW. The recipient equipment must have at least 70dBm. The chips are incorporated in portable devices
and powered by batteries and thats why they should have minimum consumption of power up-to 97% less
than a mobile phone so the battery of phone lasts longer. If Bluetooth devices do not exchange information
then they establish the way of wait to save energy. The power of transmission that is used as specification
is of 1 mW for a scope of 10 m, 100 mW for a scope of up to 100 m.

Device power class Range

Class 1 100mW ~ 100 m

Class 2 2.5mW ~10 m

Class 3 1mW ~1 m


The connections have a maximum range of 10 meters, though using amplifiers it is possible to come up to
100 meters, but creating some distortion interferes. Maybe it doesnt look too much, but it is necessary to
remember that these devices were created by the intention of using them in closed environments and little

Type of Data and Clients

It can carry both data and voice as an exchange. The different types of users of Bluetooth can be computers,
PDA, mobile phone, etc. There are many other places Bluetooth is used. For example mobile phones, head
set, stereo headphones, audio adapter, printer, keyboard, GPS system and many more.
Data Transfer Rate
It is one of the important features in Bluetooth device. Data transfer rate is defined as the speed at which
data is transmitted from one device to another. It generally ranges from 1 mega -bite to 24 mega- bite
depending on the type of Bluetooth device version as shown below.

Maximum output
Version Data rate Application

Version 1.2 1Mbit/s .7Mbits/s

Version 2.0 3 Mbit/s 2.1Mbits/s

Version 3.0 24Mbits/s -

Frequency Hopping
It is method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly switching a carrier wave among many channels
using a pseudorandom sequence known both to transmitter and receiver. It is useful to avoid
collision where many devices use same frequency to send the signal and avoid interference.
Since the ISM band is open to anyone, radio systems operating in this band must cope with several
unpredictable sources of interference, such as baby monitors, garage door openers, cordless phones and
microwave ovens (the strongest source of interference). Interference can be avoided using an adaptive
scheme that finds an unused part of the spectrum, or it can be suppressed by means of spectrum spreading.
In the United States, radios operating in the 2.45-GHz ISM band are required to apply spectrum-spreading
techniques if their transmitted power level exceeds 0 dBm [2]. Bluetooth radios use frequency-hop (FH)
spread spectrum, since it better supports low-cost, low-power radio implementations. In addition, they better
cope with near-far problems: a nearby jammer is effectively suppressed by the narrow channel filter as
long as its jammer TX spectrum does not coincide with the selected hop channel. FH systems divide the
frequency band into several hop channels. During a connection, radio transceivers hop from one channel
to another in a pseudorandom fashion. The instantaneous (hop) bandwidth is small in FH radios, but
spreading is obtained over the entire frequency band. This results in low-cost narrow-band transceivers
with maximum immunity to interference.

Here we can see that channel time is divided into slots of 625uS. Each packet can occupy 1, 3 or 5 slots.
The hopping frequency keeps constant within the packet. The master uses the odd number of slots to send
the packets and slave uses even numbered.

Ad hoc Network
Ad hoc network is a decentralized wireless network where they do not rely on preexisting infrastructure
such as routers instead each device participates in routing by routing data to the other nodes. An ad hoc
network typically refers to any set of networks where all devices have equal status on a network and are
free to associate with any other ad hoc network device in link range. Bluetooth also uses ad hop networking
and is based on peer connectivity: a device carrying a Bluetooth radio can make a connection to any other
device carrying a Bluetooth radio. There is no wired infrastructure with base stations or access points that
can support the call setup or can provide low-power modes. In a Bluetooth system the master device can
connect up-to seven other devices forming a network known as Pico net.

For example a computer can connect to seven different Bluetooth enabled devices such as mouse, printer,
CD-player, keyboard etc. The Pico net is a group of several devices that are in the same radio coverage
where they share same channel that is constituted between two and eight other units. Two or more
Bluetooth units that share a FH channel form a Pico net. To regulate traffic on the channel, one of the
participating units becomes a master of the Pico net. However, users on the same channel must share
capacity. Since the channel capacity is only 1 MHz, as more and more users are added, throughput per
user quickly drops to less than some 10 kb/s. The spectral bandwidth available is 79 MHz, but cannot be
used effectively when every unit must share the same 1-MHz hop channel. Therefore, another solution has
been adopted. Units that share the same area and that are within range of one another can potentially
establish ad hoc connections between themselves. However, solely units that truly want to exchange
information share the same 1-MHz channel of a Pico net. This solution permits several Pico nets to be
created with overlapping coverage areas.

Each Pico net channel applies its own pseudorandom hopping sequence through the 79-MHz medium. The
Pico nets are uncoordinated and hop independently. Within the Pico net, the participants have to share the
1 MHz, but multiple Pico nets share the entire 79 MHz, thus increasing the capacity. A collection of multiple
Pico nets is called a scatter net. A maximum of 10 Pico nets can be connected to form a scatter net. A
figure below shows how Pico net works.
A typical Ad hoc network.
Bluetooth Protocols
Bluetooth is not a single protocol but is made of different protocols seven to be exact. Each of these
protocols work at different part of Bluetooth completing the Bluetooth configuration. Bluetooth hardware
can be represented in a diagram with host, Bluetooth radio, link controller and link manager.

Each part on the hardware runs on certain protocols and comibining them gives us a compact
structure of bluetooth device.

Bluetooth protocol comprises of a number of protocols which can be divided into four categories. Each of
these protocols is responsible for specific type of task and stands on its own. In the previous Bluetooth
article we talked about the basic terms, the specific values of power, frequency, range and many more.
The concept of master, slaves, Pico nets and scatter net forming ad-hoc network. This part of Bluetooth
will deal with the protocols responsible for the working of Bluetooth technology. The four categories in
which these protocols are divided are shown below:
Bluetooth Core Protocols
The baseband enable the radio frequency link between Bluetooth devices to form a Pico-net. Information
is exchanged in packets in Bluetooth. A packet is a binary data unit that carries information required by
the user which can be routed through a computer network. Both circuit switching and packet switching is
used to transfer the packets in the network. Packet-switched networks move data in separate, small
blocks -- packets -- based on the destination address in each packet. When received, packets are
reassembled in the proper sequence to make up the message. Circuit-switched networks require
dedicated point-to-point connections during calls and generally used in telephone lines for exchange.
The Link Manager Protocol
The link manager protocol is responsible for setting a link between two Bluetooth devices. This protocol
layer is responsible for security issues like authentication, encryption, exchanging and checking the link
and encryption keys.
Logical Link Control and Adaptation - Layer (L2CAP)
The Bluetooth logical link control and adaptation layer supports higher level multiplexing, segmentation
and reassembly of packets and quality of service communication and groups. This layer is not
responsible for reliability and uses ARQ to ensure it.
Service Discovery Protocol (SDP)
SDP is the basis for discovery of services on all Bluetooth devices. This is essential for all Bluetooth
models because with SDP device information, services and the characteristics of the services can be
queried and after that connection between two or more Bluetooth devices may be established .Other
service discovery protocols such as Jini,UpnP etc. maybe used in conjunction with the Bluetooth SDP