Difference between Wireless LAN and Bluetooth

Key Difference: Wireless LAN (WLAN) stands for Wireless Local Area Network. It refers to a network that connects two or more devices by using wireless data connections over short distances. Bluetooth is a short range technology standard which allows devices to communicate in a wireless manner. Bluetooth works in lower distance range than in comparison to a typical wireless LAN. Wireless LANs (802.11b) are also faster than in comparison to Bluetooth. However, Bluetooth is a better option when communication needs to take place between smart phones, etc. Bluetooth technology is new than in comparison to WLAN. Basically, WLAN and Bluetooth are both used to cater to two different types of wireless connectivity requirements.

Wireless LAN or WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. It refers to a network that connects two or more devices by using wireless data connections over short distances. It can be considered as an extension of a LAN. WLAN is generally implemented by transmission modes like spread-spectrum radio transmission and infrared transmission. Infrared is based on transmission of infrared light. On the other hand, radio transmission makes use of the radio transmission on the ISM free-license GHz range.

The components that make up a WLAN are:

  • Wireless access point – It is a tiny box containing one or more aerials. A connector is also present in the box which attaches it to the rest of the wired LAN. The number of access points may differ from one scenario to the other. Access points handle the receiving and transmitting of data to all the wireless devices in their area.
  • Wireless network card – This card acts as a radio receiver/transmitter for a specific computer. Today, most of the laptops have this facility within its structure. However, in case it is not present, installation is required.

There are three commonly used WLAN systems:

  • 802.11b

Based on 2.4GHz

Typical throughput 3 to 5Mb/s

Well established and low cost

  • 802.11g

Based on 2.4GHz

Typical throughput 6 to 20Mb/s

  • 802.11a

Based on 5GHz

Typical throughput 6 to 28Mb/s

Bluetooth is a short range technology standard which allows devices to communicate in a wireless manner. The devices can be computers, mobiles or handheld devices. Like WLAN, Bluetooth technology does not require any cables to connect the devices. Bluetooth-enabled devices work within a range of 10 meters. Ericsson Mobile Communication is credited for starting the project named as Bluetooth.

It uses a chip that can be easily plugged into devices like phones and computers. It uses a particular radio frequency to transmit the data. Bluetooth is regarded to be a very safe technology. It has the capability to connect upto 8 devices at the same time. It is mostly preferred for transferring files from one phone to the other. One can also send music files and pictures wirelessly with the help of this technology. Bluetooth technology uses modifications of existing wireless LAN techniques.

Both WLAN and Bluetooth are important technologies in the wireless platform.

Comparison between wireless LAN 802.11b and Bluetooth:

 

Wireless LAN

Bluetooth

Definition

Wireless LAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network. It refers to a network that connects two or more devices by using wireless data connections over short distances.

Bluetooth is a short range technology standard which allows devices to communicate in a wireless manner.

Distance Range

Up to 200 feet

 Less than 30 feet

Bandwidth

High

Low

Security issues

Can occur, still controllable

Minimum

Speed

Comparatively more

Comparatively less

Central Access Point

Required

Not required

Identification of the network

By locating a central router of a wireless network switch.

By checking out the Bluetooth control panel (on phone or computer)

Image Courtesy: equars.com, bose.com

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