Much-maligned wireless technology Bluetooth got a shot in the arm this week as a hotel in Manchester became the first in the world to offer access to hotel services, internet and email through Bluetooth devices.
The Weston Building, Conference Centre and Hotel has placed access points in various areas such as the reception, lounge, bar and some business rooms. This is just the first step in creating access points across the whole city in time for the Commonwealth Games, which are to take place next July.
A total of 70 wireless hotspots are planned in such areas as restaurants, shopping centres and airports in the city by the end of February next year.
Bluetooth integrator, Netario, hopes to expend the number of cities with access to the technology to 13 by the end of September 2002.
Many experts remain unconvinced by the technology and feel that other technologies, such as Wi-Fi, have a better chance at general acceptance. But Bluetooth's backers stoutly defend it and point to its ongoing evolution.
"People still have the misconception that Bluetooth is a short-range tool," said Petri Mikkola, support manager of wireless communications company, Blue2Space. "Much has happened since the beginning of Bluetooth."
He said that that his company has managed to extend the original range of ten meters to well beyond 1500 meters using a Class-2 (2.5mW) Bluetooth chip. They hope to extend this even further when they begin testing with Class-1 (100mW) radio chips at the beginning of next year.
Experts were sceptical that having Bluetooth access points will help it out of its current dilemma.
"Providing access points in a hotel is by no means going to solve the problems that Bluetooth up against at the moment," said Rob Gear of analysts, Ovum.
"The main problem is lack of devices. There really is not a great deal of point providing access when no-one has a Bluetooth device to do anything useful with."
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