Bluetooth Version 5

Bluetooth is a wireless technology, that operates on the 2.4 Ghz to 2.485GHz frequency. It’s primary use is for exchange of data between wireless devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital camera. Initially developed by Ericsson, in 1994 it has reached it 5th iteration as of June 2016, offering low cost, security and high rates of use globally.

The technology is maintained by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group(SIG), which has overseen the development of the Bluetooth standard, and also oversees licensing of the technology in to hardware manufactures. Members of the SIG, include Ericsson, Intel, Microsoft, Apple, IBM and Nokia. SIG companies are now at an all-time high with 30,000 members.

Earlier this month, on December 7th 2016 the SIG officially adopted Bluetooth 5 as the latest version of the Bluetooth core. Latest updates to Bluetooth 5 include longer range and faster speeds, as well as improved interoperability. Let’s take a look at how the technology has developed, and look at what the latest version brings:

Comparison of Bluetooth Versions

Bluetooth Version Maximum Speed Maximum Range Focus
1.2 721 kbits / s Basic Rate
2.0 3 Mbits / s Basic Rate + EDR
3.0 24 Mbits / s Basic Rate + EDR + HS
4.0 25 Mbits / s 60 m Basic Rate + EDR + HS +LE
5 50 Mbits / s | 2 Mbit /s throughput 240 m Internet of Things


Bluetooth 5 key updates:

  • Name: Previously, SIG named Bluetooth versions with ending .0, however the latest version is a single digit 5.
  • Speed: 2x Increase speed increase to 50 Megabytes per second
  • Range: 4x Increase Up to 240 meters
  • Broadcast Message Capacity: 800% Increase broadcast message capacity

Two Flavors

There are two implementation of the Bluetooth specification:

  • Bluetooth Basic Rate / Enhanced Date Rate (BR / EDR) adopted in version 2.0/2.1
    • Short Range and Continuous Wireless Connection. Used for cases such as streaming audio.
  • Bluetooth with low energy (LE) adopted in version 4.0/4.1/4
    • Short Bursts of Long-Range radio connection. Used for cases, such as devices connected to the IoT where applications don’t require a continuous connection but rather good batter life.
  • Dual Mode: Supports both BR/EDR(audio headsets) and LE devices(wearable). Used in cases such as smartphones that need to connect to both flavors.

Internet of Things(IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been defined in Recommendation ITU-T Y.2060 (06/2012) as a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies.  In other words, devices such as mobile phones are equipped with sensors, and software that allow them to exchange data. For example, your fridge might want to communicate with your smartphone to let it know that there is no milk.

Bluetooth 5 pay special attention to the IoT by offering reliable IoT connections, and supports the adoption of beacons which decreases barriers within an area to enable a better IoT experience. The increased speed will allow for higher rates of data transmission, such as the next generation of Bluetooth audio and the increased range means that you can turn your entire home or building into a connected environment.

“Bluetooth 5 will transform the way people experience the IoT by making it something that happens simply and seamlessly around them,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG. “Increasing operation range will enable connections to IoT devices that extend far beyond the walls of a typical home, while increasing speed supports faster data transfers and software updates for devices. And now with the ability to broadcast a much richer set of information, Bluetooth 5 will make beacons, location awareness, and other connection less services an even more relevant part of an effortless and seamless IoT experience”

Due to the fact that more and more devices part of the IoT, the other competing wireless technology within the same space is Wi-Fi.

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