12-04-2015 11:31 AM - edited 12-04-2015 03:31 PM
Occasionally, we get people asking us about our Aruba Beacons use of Bluetooth and their effect on Wi-Fi network interference.
If you're going to be deploying hundreds of Bluetooth low-energy Aruba Beacons throughout a location, it seems reasonable to suppose that that may have some effect on overall Wi-Fi network performance in some way.
What I do know is that our Aruba Engineers have done extensive testing on the effect of Aruba Beacons on Wi-Fi network performance. They've found no measurable interference caused by Aruba Beacons and Bluetooth low-energy devices on Wi-Fi networks. Since you're here, I expect you'd like to know a little bit more about why this is, right?
First of all, Aruba Beacons aren't constantly transmitting. One of the reasons why we can get such great battery life out of our Beacons (1-2 years, in best case scenarios) is that they only transmit at periodic intervals--what we call chirping. If it caused interference, it would only be in those brief bursts of activity. There is another reasons why Beacons don't interfere with Wi-Fi signals though.
Cleverly, although the Bluetooth standard uses the same 2.4Ghz frequency band as Wi-Fi does, Aruba Beacons only uses channels reserved for an advertising mode on that frequency (channels 37, 38, and 39, if you're curious). Because Wi-Fi doesn't use those channels at all. This advertising mode is used for the purposes of device discovery. For those using a Meridian-powered app, the Aruba Beacons are saying, "I'm here!" The app and the Meridian platform take it from there. Unlike a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, Aruba Beacons don't need the type of constant connection that would tend to possibly cause interference with Wi-Fi signals.
You can read more about these advertising channels in this EETimes article "Bluetooth 4.0: An introduction to Bluetooth Low Energy—Part I":
I'm sure that there are other interference issues that I've not covered here. If I've got some something wrong, please let me know!