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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
A phone for life
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere . . that could be Bluetooth
By BBC News Online internet reporter
Mark Ward in Monaco

The advent of Bluetooth may mean you only need one phone for every call you make, even if you are surfing the internet.

The short-range wireless technology promises to simplify your life by reducing the number of ways people contact you.

A Bluetooth phone will know whether it is being used on the street or in your living room and will route calls over the cheapest network. One handset will be able to do everything.

Samsung's IMT2000
Samsung's IMT2000, touted as the world's first web video phone
But Bluetooth is being added to so many technologies that consumers may find it hard to choose the best combination.

Land and air

The majority of the 28 million people in the UK with a mobile phone still use a landline as well because calls made over the fixed network cost less.

Many also use their fixed line to surf the internet because currently data travels faster over wires.

Data sent over mobile phone networks travels at a rate of 9.6 kilobits per second (kbps) far slower than the 56 kbps possible with a modem.

But future mobile technologies will go much faster than this.

BT Cellnet is introducing a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) for business customers this month which shuffles data around at speeds up to 171.2 kbps.

Third generation

By 2003 the next generation of mobile phone networks, called the Universal Mobile Telecommunication Service (UMTS), should be in operation. This moves data around at up to 2,000 kbps.

A UMTS mobile phone that also works with Bluetooth could be the link between your PC and the internet, removing any need for a fixed line.

The Bluetooth handset should also be able to manage the move from home to mobile networks, so you can start a call before walking out the door and finish it at the bus stop.

But at the same time that these mobile networks are being deployed very high speed fixed services are becoming available.

Broadband access

This month Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services are due to start in the UK that let people surf at speeds up to 500 kbps.

The DSL modems could become the hub of a Bluetooth network that links together all the gadgets in the home.

Toshiba is already making an ordinary modem with Bluetooth, that gives laptops and other computers access to the telephone network.

Makers of hand-held computers such as Palm and Compaq are producing sleeves and backpacks for the gadgets complete with Bluetooth antenna.

Consumer electronics companies such as Philips are not far behind, putting Bluetooth into hi-fi systems, videos and eventually fridges.

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Sony bitten by Bluetooth
06 Jun 00 | Business
Ericsson unveils Bluetooth
13 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Bluetooth products roll out
30 May 00 | Business
Shifting Europe's mobile landscape
23 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's web phone revolution
18 May 00 | Business Basics
The Telecom Revolution
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