US regulators have modified the rules governing the 2.4GHz radio spectrum used by AirPort and Bluetooth devices.
Significantly, the Federal Communications Commission has changed its rules in order to allow wireless LAN (Local Area Network) devices such as AirPort to co-exist with Bluetooth devices on the same bandwidth.
The changes also mean developers using the 2.4GHz band won't be limited to 11Mbps (megabits per second) data rates, opening the doors for mass production of faster next-generation wireless LAN products.
Excepting software upgrades and slight adjustments to hardware, Apple hasn't updated its AirPort wireless networking products since its launch in 1999.
The chairman of the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (Wi-Fi), Dennis Eaton, praised the changes, saying it will result in products with higher data rates and lower interference.
“The FCC has been extremely responsive to the industry and consumers. It recognizes how precious the spectrum is,” he said.
Previous rules kept data rates capped at 11Mbps in the 2.4GHz band. There is no effective data-rate limit under the new rules.
Eaton also believes the FCC rulings will result in dual-band devices: “The technology is headed toward dual-band chip sets in as soon as six months."
The news means manufacturers will be able to deploy more products with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.