The first information about the new Bluetooth 5 standard appeared in June this year. Initial reports were very optimistic. It was expected that new wireless communication standard will offer data transfer speed reaching up to 100 Mbps. Now we all rave about the fact that the new standard will be two times faster than the previous, but it will be still slow. Bluetooth 5 will transmit data at a speed of 2 Mbps, which is 20 times slower than in case of the already available Bluetooth 3.1 + HS (High Speed) solution.
So why these delights? We do not deceive ourselves, Bluetooth standard had never been designed to transfer files. Of course, you can do this, but this wireless solution is used for telemetry, which is a small portion of data e.g. from temperature sensor or medical equipment. Our editorial staff had already dealt with this topic. In June, we have compiled the most important information available at that time about the Bluetooth technology. People claim that the Bluetooth module is the reason of short battery lifetime of their smartphones. However, this is not true, because the Low Energy mode has been already introduced in Bluetooth 4.2. New standard is going to improve this aspect, so this standard will be suitable for use in so-called Internet of things.
Bluetooth 5 will offer 2 Mbps, what is 2x faster than the Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy.
This speed increase will be sufficient to significantly reduce the time needed to update the device software. Bluetooth 5 was designed among other things for our smartwatches and smartbands. These devices do not send too many data, but they have their own software, which from time to time has to be updates. This operation has to be done automatically and wirelessly with the minimal user intervention. Another advantage of the new standard is 4x greater range.
Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy offers a theoretical range of 100 meters and low power consumption. Theoretically, the newest version of this technology is going to operate at distances up to 400 meters. Of course this is the theoretical value which can be achieved only in the perfect environment (i.e. open space). From experience I know that Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy has a very large range. I found out about this several times. However, this aspect will be improved in the upcoming standard. Bluetooth 5 will have the similar power consumption level to Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy and four times greater coverage. Thanks to this, the IoT devices will be able to communicate the home or building.
Bluetooth 5 will be less disruptive to the operation of other wireless technologies.
The new standard provides a mechanism that will automatically detect and prevent interference on the ends of the 2.4 GHz band and adjacent LTE channels. I do not know if you have noticed, but the data transmission via Bluetooth can significantly slow down the Wi-Fi network. Fortunately Bluetooth 5 will be less selfish and will be able to operate in environments where there is a lot of different wireless networks. This will be done by detecting free time slots during which transmission is possible.
The new standard will ensure also the backward compatibility with Bluetooth 4.2, 4.1 and 4.0 devices which support the Low Energy mode. The new Bluetooth 5 can also have an implementation of the Basic Rate / Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR) transmission mode. In this case, the backward compatibility will be maintained also for Bluetooth 1.1 and newer devices. Still, we do not know when we will see the first Bluetooth 5.0 device in stores. All in all, nothing is lost, because this type of technology needs a lot of time to adapt to the market. I am sure that when new chips will become to be respectively cheap, then manufacturers will replace all Bluetooth 4.2 modules.