Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about the future of technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
During the spring CTIA conference of 2005, a Switched On column expressed hope for Bluetooth. Bluetooth phones were becoming more broadly available in the US and headsets were becoming more affordable, trends that have continued. However, the potential of Bluetooth has been cut short by carriers that have disabled or "crippled" parts of it functionality. The two most common profiles that carriers have disabled are DUN (dial-up networking) which lets you use your Bluetooth handset as a wireless modem, and OBEX (object exchange), which lets you wirelessly trade files between your handset and PC.
DUN is generally disabled to prevent users from taking advantage of data plans intended for the kind of relatively light data usage patterns of a smartphone, whereas some carriers, like Verizon, for instance, disable OBEX to prevent circumventing cellular-based transfer services. While carriers have eased up on some of the profile disabling, the Sidekick 3, for example, supports only headset and file sharing functions.
Communicating Bluetooth compatibility has always offered a dilemma because the wireless technology encompasses several different benefits. Should the Bluetooth Special Interest Group go the route of the WiFi Alliance and offer one logo that might leave out details such as operating frequency, and speed or the PlaysForSure route and offer a confusing composite badge that details all the capabilities?