Home Networking Guide : Direct Connection - Wireless Solutions - using Bluetooth

Bluetooth connection
Figure: Bluetooth direct connection
Two PCs - each with a USB Bluetooth adapter - communicate over Bluetooth radio link.

Bluetooth can be used to connect two computers (desktop PCs or laptops). Each computer must have a built-in Bluetooth radio transceiver or an external Bluetooth adapter that usually connects via a USB port. Bluetooth doesn't require the two computers to be in LOS. Even if you place the computers in different rooms, they still can communicate via Bluetooth because Bluetooth radio signal can pass through wall. Bluetooth supports data rate of up to 1 Mbps (723 kbps effective) in version 1.1 or 1.2 and 3 Mbps in version 2.0 with EDR (Enhanced Data Rate). The maximum distance a Bluetooth adapter can reach depends on its power class, that is between 10 - 100 meters. Check your Bluetooth adapter specification to see its version and power class.

You can do many things using Bluetooth direct connection between two computers. Services that can be performed depend on your Bluetooth adapters and their software support for Bluetooth profiles. The direct connection may be created to perform certain task, such as object push, file transfer, synchronization, and dial-up networking. But it is not a network in the real sense. To perform typical network functions, such as file and printer sharing and Internet connection sharing (resembling the functions of a LAN), you can create a network of the two computers using LAN Access Profile (LAP) or Personal Area Networking (PAN) profile.

LAP is still used for creating an ad-hoc connection between Bluetooth-enabled computers. But it is slowly replaced by the newer PAN profile which is more suitable for establishing an ad-hoc network that allows each computer to access shared resources as if in a LAN. You can connect two Bluetooth-enabled computers using PAN services. There are three types of PAN services, i.e. NAP, GN, and PANU. In this step-by-step guide for Windows XP, a computer with PANU service connects to another computer with GN service. The created network is a PAN which can be used to perform standard TCP/IP services.

The most notable advantage of using Bluetooth for connecting computers is its cross-platform compatibility. It allows two computers with different operating systems (e.g. Windows, Linux, or Mac) to connect and share resources as long as both computers support the same Bluetooth profiles. This capability may come as a built-in feature of the OS or be provided by third party Bluetooth software that typically comes with a Bluetooth adapter.

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