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Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz[3]) from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks (PANs). Invented by Dutch electrical engineer Jaap Haartsen, working for telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables.

Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which has more than 30,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The IEEE standardized Bluetooth as IEEE 802.15.1, but no longer maintains the standard. The Bluetooth SIG oversees development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. A manufacturer must meet Bluetooth SIG standards to market it as a Bluetooth device. A network of patents apply to the technology, which are licensed to individual qualifying devices.

Bluetooth operates at frequencies between 2402 and 2480 MHz, or 2400 and 2483.5 MHz including guard bands 2 MHz wide at the bottom end and 3.5 MHz wide at the top. This is in the globally unlicensed (but not unregulated) industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency band. Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum. Bluetooth divides transmitted data into packets, and transmits each packet on one of 79 designated Bluetooth channels. Each channel has a bandwidth of 1 MHz. It usually performs 800 hops per second, with Adaptive Frequency-Hopping (AFH) enabled. Bluetooth Low Energy uses 2 MHz spacing, which accommodates 40 channels.

Originally, Gaussian frequency-shift keying (GFSK) modulation was the only modulation scheme available. Since the introduction of Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, ?/4-DQPSK (differential quadrature phase shift keying) and 8DPSK modulation may also be used between compatible devices. Devices functioning with GFSK are said to be operating in basic rate (BR) mode where an instantaneous bit rate of 1 Mbit/s is possible. The term Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) is used to describe ?/4-DPSK and 8DPSK schemes, each giving 2 and 3 Mbit/s respectively. The combination of these (BR and EDR) modes in Bluetooth radio technology is classified as a "BR/EDR radio".

Bluetooth is a packet-based protocol with a master/slave architecture. One master may communicate with up to seven slaves in a piconet. All devices share the master's clock. Packet exchange is based on the basic clock, defined by the master, which ticks at 312.5 µs intervals. Two clock ticks make up a slot of 625 µs, and two slots make up a slot pair of 1250 µs. In the simple case of single-slot packets, the master transmits in even slots and receives in odd slots. The slave, conversely, receives in even slots and transmits in odd slots. Packets may be 1, 3 or 5 slots long, but in all cases the master's transmission begins in even slots and the slave's in odd slots.

The above is valid for "classic" Bluetooth. Bluetooth Low Energy, introduced in the 4.0 specification, uses the same spectrum but somewhat differently; see Bluetooth Low Energy#Radio interface.

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