Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Is 'next year' finally here for wireless technology?: "Mike McCamon is clearly frustrated, but he's doing well at holding it together. He is Mr. Bluetooth. That's Bluetooth, the wireless technology. You might have heard of it—the cable-replacement miracle that was supposed to clear the clutter around your personal computer, banish the annoying wire from your cellphone headset and 'cure the common cold,' as McCamon wryly put it.

"McCamon is executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, an outfit based in Kansas whose mission is to perfect and promote the technical standard. He is wise not to make promises. Like most everything else technology-related, Bluetooth got over-hyped during the late '90s. Bluetooth boosters from companies long bankrupt kept promising it would be everywhere 'next year.'"

"Some forces still are holding back Bluetooth, particularly in the United States. Verizon Wireless and SprintPCS, the two major carriers whose cellular networks are based on CDMA wireless technology, largely have shunned Bluetooth. Rivals Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile USA have embraced it."

"Verizon and Sprint, whose cellphone also is based on CDMA technology, are both likely to start feeling more pressure to include a Bluetooth handset in their phone lineups. Up to this point, both companies have seemed to regard Bluetooth as a competitor to the PC cards it markets for bringing Internet access to laptops—and neither company has suggested that its view is changing.

"'The Trojan horse that's going to solve the problem is the car industry,' McCamon said. He says he has heard from frustrated owners of Bluetooth-equipped cars who have Verizon and Sprint service and wonder why those carriers don't have phones that can talk to the car. He enjoys directing those customers to vent their frustration to Verizon and Sprint."

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