Some of the world’s biggest tech firms have built rival for Bluetooth AND Wi-Fi – here’s why you should be worried

Graphic showing wavelengths to indicate a Nearlink wireless network
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The first products using Nearlink – a revolutionary next-generation wireless protocol – are hitting the market, with Huawei leading the charge.

The company's Huawei Mate 60, MatePad Pro 13.2, and Freebuds Pro are among the first devices shipping with the Nearlink standard, which Huawei is championing as a much faster and more effective rival to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Announced at its HDC 2023 event in August, Nearlink works by making the most of existing wireless technologies, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, according to Huawei Central.

The benefits include 60% less power consumption, six times the data transmission speeds, and they support roughly ten times the device connections. 

The standard is designed to strip away latency (offering latency of 1/30th of a millisecond) while offering high bandwidth to boot.

Not only is Huawei loading its latest devices with Nearlink, but it’s also leading a consortium of 300 tech companies to build the standard – all Chinese apart from Mediatek and St Gobain – to integrate the standard into their products. 

This group includes a broad range of companies from sectors such as automotive, AV, home appliances, as well as electronics, and they specifically include Lenovo, Hisense, Honor, among others.

No major US names including the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, AMD, or Nvidia, are included, leading to a very real possibility the technology could take off in China and leave the rest of the world behind. 

There are, however, alternatives, including the ultra-wideband (UWB) technology Apple is developing for its devices, including the new iPhone 15 series.

Although the US has blacklisted Huawei, it remains a significant player in the global technology market. 

A China-only wireless protocol built and developed only by Chinese companies – led by Huawei – may result in a parallel form of networking that’s impossible to peer into – especially when it comes to shaping how the standard improves over time, and what that means for users and businesses.

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Keumars Afifi-Sabet
Channel Editor (Technology), Live Science

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is the Technology Editor for Live Science. He has written for a variety of publications including ITPro, The Week Digital and ComputerActive. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, having previously held the role of features editor with ITPro. In his previous role, he oversaw the commissioning and publishing of long form in areas including AI, cyber security, cloud computing and digital transformation.