Personal Area Networks: Bluetooth or IEEE 802.11?
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Interconnecting all our electronic devices we carry around, such as cellular phones, PDAs, and laptops, with wireless links requires a cheap, low-power radio technology that still delivers good performance. In this context, the Bluetooth wireless technology was developed to meet the requirements introduced by these personal area networks (PANs). However, today we see a widespread deployment of wireless local area network (WLAN) radios (primarily IEEE 802.11b) also in small devices, such as PDAs. This paper will compare the PAN capabilities of a Bluetooth-based system with an IEEE 802.11b-based system. In order to focus the comparison on link and networking functionality, the IEEE 802.11b radio is assumed to be operating at the same power level as the Bluetooth radio (i.e., assuming a 0 dBm radio). Results are obtained by means of simulations in which throughput and delay are measured for multihop and overlaid PANs. Estimations on power usage are also given in the simulations. The results indicate that as the number of PANs increases, the Bluetooth-based PANs basically maintain the same bandwidth per PAN, while the corresponding IEEE 802.11-based PANs suffer significantly from the increased co-channel interference. However, for cases with a few co-channel-interfering PANs (2-3 PANs hosting about 10-15 nodes), the IEEE 802.11b-based PANs offer a higher bandwidth per user than the corresponding Bluetooth PANs, which corresponds to the difference in link bandwidth between the two systems. At high interference levels, the Bluetooth PAN offers a higher capacity than the IEEE 802.11 PAN. The latter also shows unfairness among TCP connections in the PAN at high loads. The energy efficiency, defined as successfully transmitted bits per energy unit, decreases sharply for IEEE 802.11 with increased number of PANs, while Bluetooth maintains a constant level. Packet delays are also shown to be more stable for the Bluetooth PAN than for the IEEE 802.11 PAN as the number of PANs increases.
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