The In’s & Out’s of Bluetooth Certification

Having engineered our fair share of Bluetooth products at Breadware, we asked our very own, Liz Mancuso, Director of NPI, to share her guiding wisdom for obtaining certification.

So You Want to Use The Bluetooth Logo on Your Product?

In order to do so, you have to navigate the maze of requirements from Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) to prove your design will meet both Bluetooth’s quality and performance standards. There are multiple steps to this process, which can be confusing – but don’t fret, this article will give a quick overview of how things generally work and what you can expect.

Bluetooth Product Categories

First, there are three main categories of products recognized by Bluetooth. Generally, any Bluetooth product available for sale in the market will need to be qualified as an End Product.

Component

A design that supports at a minimum, all the mandatory requirements for one or more layers in the Core Specification and/or Protocol, Service, or Profile Specifications. E.g. – Link Layer (LL), RF-PHY, Host.

Subsystem

A design that is a controller (RF-PHY + LL) , Host (L2CAP +ATT + SM + GATT + GAP), or a Profile.

End Product

A design that supports, at a minimum, a complete core architecture with the corresponding controller and host core configurations and optionally Protocols/Services/Profiles outside the core Bluetooth Specification. (Cypress BLE Solutions: Bluetooth Qualification and Declaration, n.d.)

To Test or Not to Test

In order to submit an End Product for certification with Bluetooth, you will need to determine whether or not you need to complete formal testing, which can, of course, be costly and/or time-consuming.

Qualifying Your Product with No Required Testing.

To be able to omit testing, your end product will need to reference a certified subsystem or other certified end product. Referencing a Bluetooth module (even though it is pre-certified) is not sufficient, as the module is considered a component, not a subsystem or end product to Bluetooth.

For example, say you are developing an End Product that contains a Nordic Bluetooth chip. The subsystem you would need to reference is the firmware you are using from Nordic, which is called SoftDevice.

Nordic SoftDevice s132 v6.1.1, has a Qualified Device ID (QDID) of 125047. The QDID is an important item that Bluetooth SIG will need to know if you are submitting an end product without testing.

Additionally, you are not allowed to use standard Bluetooth services and still omit testing. If you use the standard services, Bluetooth SIG will want to test to ensure that they were implemented properly, so that they will work with any device. However, if you develop custom services, testing is not required.

Qualifying Your Product with Required Testing

If you are submitting an End Product for certification and it does not reference an existing qualified subsystem or end product, you will then have to engage perform Required Testing. You will also have to provide reports of that testing to the Bluetooth SIG.

Required testing can be done by a 3rd party Qualified Test Facility or alternatively it is possible to perform in house testing for Protocol Stack and Profiles using Profile Tuning Suite (PTS). You will need to generate test logs and reports, and submit a test declaration document to Bluetooth SIG.

So how much is this going to cost?

Costs are always variable depending on your specific situation, however, here is an example of what you could see if you are going through the Bluetooth Certification:

Bluetooth SIG Membership Annual Fees
  • Adopter Member: Free
  • Associate Member (revenue greater than $100M): $35,000
  • Associate Member (revenue less than $100M): $7,500
  • Declaration/Listing Fee (per submission)
  • $4,000 Associate Member
  • $8,000 Adopter Member
  • $2,500 (Startup companies listing their first two products pay a reduced fee)
  • Testing Fees for Labs
  • Approved chipset: ~$6,000
  • Unapproved chipset: ~$30,000
  • This is really confusing, is there someone that can help?

    Yes! BluetoothSIG provides a list of Qualified consultants are available to help walk you through the process.

    Or, you can simply contact us to discuss your project and where we can help.