DECT vs. Bluetooth: How to choose the right wireless headset

As you hunt for wireless headsets, you’ll likely come across the so-called “DECT standard.” You may find yourself wondering just what DECT is and how it differs from Bluetooth. We hope this post puts the matter to rest.

DECT vs. Bluetooth

DECT stands for “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications,” although it’s also known as “Digital European Cordless Telecommunications” – which makes sense, because it’s a standard that originated in Europe.

It is widely used in wireless phone systems to connect the cordless phone to a base station. DECT has many other applications, ranging from baby monitors to industrial remote controls. But in this post, we’ll focus on the phone systems.

DECT is used for both consumer and corporate phones. In the latter case, it can be used with a PBX (private branch exchange) and a wireless LAN to let users move around the office without losing their calls.

The standard is widely used in most countries. It works near the 1.9 GHz frequency band, where it does not interfere with other wireless technologies, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

We say “most countries,” because North America is a little different. Due to US radio frequency regulations, the country uses its own standard: DECT 6.0. While it’s almost identical to regular DECT, technology that uses the US standard is not compatible with DECT systems elsewhere.

DECT vs. Bluetooth: Security

Security of your wireless conversations is a natural concern.

To quote Dennis Majikas, a service engineer at Jabra: “People are concerned that others may be able to tap into their call via the wireless connection, but that is almost impossible to do once authentication is established.”

It works as follows: First, the headset establishes an authenticated connection with the base. This requires a number of “handshakes” and creates a secure link. Once that happens, the headset turns voice into digital data, encrypts it, and passes only the encrypted data back to the base, making the conversation highly secure.

“DECT uses a 64-bit encryption, and Bluetooth has a 128-bit encryption. So once the headsets are appropriately paired with their base stations, the chance of someone effectively listening in on a call is virtually nil,” says Majikas.

Jabra PRO™ 9400 Series offers a secure DECT connection

DECT vs. Bluetooth: The Distance Dilemma

One of the biggest differences between DECT and Bluetooth is that DECT has a far greater range: around 100 meters (330 feet).

Bluetooth range depends on which class is used:

  • Class 1 has a range of about 100 meters (330 feet).
  • Class 2 is about 10 meters (33 feet).
  • Class 3 is only 1 meter (3 feet).

In an office environment, a Bluetooth base station would typically be Class 1, as would the headset. But a smartphone is usually Class 2, so if that same headset was to answer a call from the smartphone, it would automatically adjust itself to the Class 2 power level. (Class 3 is usually only used for devices such as keyboards and mice.)

But DECT’s greater range can be both a blessing and a curse. In the US, DECT supports a maximum of 60 channels on a given base station. In Europe, that number is 120. In a dense office environment – such as a call center – companies may run out of available channels, even though plenty of additional users are well within range of the base station.

In that case, a few things can be done:

First, the office setup must be carefully thought out – placing base stations sufficiently far away from each other so as not to cause interference.

Second, DECT range can be turned down to about 20 meters (60 feet) in high-density environments to minimize interference.

DECT vs. Bluetooth: Connectivity Considerations

Another difference is that a DECT headset can only connect to one other device – namely the base station that provides a connection to the phone network.

A single Bluetooth device can connect to up to 8 other devices simultaneously.  So the same Bluetooth headset could be used to connect to a user’s mobile phone, computer, tablet, and desk phone.

Jabra Motion Series can connect to multiple devices.

So the headset choice largely depends on how it will be used.

If your users need it only for desk- or computer-based phones – as in a call center – a DECT headset makes sense (as long as you don’t run into the above channel limitation). The headsets will be secure and will let users move about freely.

On the other hand, if the headset will also be used with a mobile phone, then Bluetooth may make more sense. Mobility is less of an issue: People have their mobile phones with them anyway, so they’re well within the 10-meter limit.

The ability to use the same headset for both office and mobile phones is convenient. If you’ve got a UC system that enables uninterrupted hand-offs between computer-based soft phones and mobile devices, that’s even better – a single Bluetooth headset should be all your users need.


Jabra offers a selection of wireless office headsets that support both the Bluetooth and DECT standards.

50 Responses

  1. Jerome February 20, 2015 / 20:38

    I didn’t know about DECT before, thought Bluetooth was the only viable option. Good to hear other technologies are developing. It still seems Bluetooth is the best for my needs so I’ll stick with it for now.

  2. Clarence September 29, 2015 / 22:57

    I’m the owner of several Jabra’s Blue Tooth devices. were can I ship my devices to replace the battery My devices are all over the year warranty but that is not relevant to me. My question is there a service center in Miami 33177 that could address this issue or were is the best place to have the battery replaced

  3. Raymond S Bowles October 19, 2015 / 20:04

    My cell phone is Blackberry Passport with the latest OS used by ATT. I’m wondering how well your Eclipse will perform and offer all the enhancements of its capability.

  4. Samuel Aderemi November 11, 2015 / 20:17

    Can I pair a bluetooth headset with a dect base?

    • Daniel Gniazdo November 12, 2015 / 09:59

      Hey Samuel,

      You can’t make DECT talk to Bluetooth directly. However, you can indirectly connect a Bluetooth smartphone to a DECT headset via a special base that bridges that gap. In this post, I’ve written about the Jabra PRO 9470, which does exactly that.

      Hope that helps,

  5. Tony mata November 16, 2015 / 18:46

    Hi I have a jabra bt2080 and on my older phone galaxy s3 I was able to connect it and listen to music but on my newer galaxy s6 I can’t seem to figure it out or it just isn’t capable of doing so, please help if possible

  6. Randy December 16, 2015 / 22:12

    Considering JABRA 9470
    Can I use the headset with my cell phone independently from the base unit?

    • Daniel Gniazdo December 17, 2015 / 09:47

      Hey Randy,

      Glad to hear you’re giving Jabra a thought. The only way the Jabra PRO 9470 can be connected to a Bluetooth phone is via its base unit, unfortunately.

      But if you liked the wearing style, you can take a look at the Jabra Evolve 65, which uses Bluetooth and can therefore connect directly to your smartphone:

      Alternatively, if you’re interested in the base unit functionality, you can get the Jabra Motion in an “Office” variant that has some of the same features as the Jabra PRO:
      (Select “I want to connect to Computer and Deskphone” when customizing the headset)

      Hope that helps,

  7. Johan February 9, 2016 / 19:30

    What’s the battery/usage time difference between DECT and Bluetooth? We’re in a small call center environment (20 people) and I wonder which tech to go for, DECT or Bluetooth, battery will be an important factor.
    Any feedback?

  8. Eric Choi February 17, 2016 / 16:05

    Hello Johan! Our Bluetooth products typically offer up to 6-8 hours of talk time, where on average our DECT products offer 10-12 hours. For this reason, as well as the headset conferencing capabilities for training purposes, DECT systems can be an preferred solution for contact centers. If you’d like to learn more, you can chat with us live at (bottom right). Hope this helps!

  9. Victor dicke February 20, 2016 / 03:06

    Hello my headset can connect with aux cable when I plug it in my phone it doesn’t play from the headphone any tips I could try ?

  10. ABHISHEK BACCHAN March 3, 2016 / 07:57

    I wonder whether the jabra ROX headphones is compatible with my Nexus 7-CELLULAR VERSION.
    How’s the jabra STEP?

    • Daniel Gniazdo May 3, 2016 / 12:05

      Hey Abhishek,

      Both the Jabra ROX and the Jabra STEP should be compatible with any phone that uses Bluetooth to connect to the headphones.

      Should you need some further details, our support page is a great place to start:

      Good luck!


  11. Marc March 11, 2016 / 14:58

    This is a pretty good guide – thanks for posting it. Marc

    • Daniel Gniazdo May 3, 2016 / 12:06

      Hey Marc,

      You’re more than welcome. Glad you found it useful!


  12. Dottie April 4, 2016 / 15:36

    Hello, my name is dottie.
    Im having alittle trouble with my jabra drive. Its paired to my galaxy note 4 on media but i cant get it in the talk answer mode.
    Can u help me. Thank u

  13. Nathan Payne April 15, 2016 / 23:32

    Great guide I didn’t actually know about DECT till this post – interesting to say the least.

    I just started using bluetooth so might be a while till I start using DECT haha! 🙂

    • Daniel Gniazdo May 3, 2016 / 12:09

      Hey Nathan,

      No hurry, there are plenty of new gadgets to check out, right?

      Glad you’ve found this post useful!


  14. keith kim May 2, 2016 / 18:28

    hi I have model # HFS100
    please help me . there is no voice sound any more
    did I set something wrong?
    I need your help thanks

  15. mojtaba May 7, 2016 / 21:13

    My jabra is NT6. Language my jabra changed to chainess , How change to English ?

  16. David June 2, 2016 / 02:59

    What does the number after DECT (such as DECT 3 or DECT6) refer to?

    • Daniel Gniazdo June 2, 2016 / 10:12

      Hi David.

      As described above, “DECT 6.0” is the US variation that operates at a slightly different frequency range. From this Wikipedia article:

      “The “6.0” in DECT 6.0 does not equate to a spectrum band, but is a marketing term coined by Rick Krupka while at Siemens for DECT devices manufactured for use in the United States and Canada. Although DECT 6.0 operates at 1.9 GHz, it was decided the term DECT 1.9 might have confused customers who equate larger numbers (such as the 2.4 and 5.8 in existing 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz cordless telephones) with later products. The DECT and DECT 6.0 technologies are essentially identical, except for operating frequency. The term DECT 6.0 is also sometimes inappropriately advertised in Australia, even though Australia uses the same allocated spectrum frequencies as Europe.”

      To the best of my knowledge, “DECT 3” is not a term that’s officially in use. Do you have a context for where you’ve seen it?


  17. Jason Waite June 24, 2016 / 16:09

    The DECT has been around since the 1990s. The standard was being developed in the late 80s–I’m sure every one of you used a DECT cordless phone in the 90s or early 2000s prior to the ubiquity of cellular phones.

  18. Rick Long July 21, 2016 / 21:56

    Would normally use dect with Lan or Pbx? I have been looking for a good analysis of DECT on Lan vs Pbx and all I can find was best bluetooth ear muffs articles which partially addressed this. Thanks

  19. Donald S. Watts July 23, 2016 / 10:28

    Thks for taking your time to write this article. Im consfusing in choosing wireless headset with bluetooth and it s really useful when i read your article Glad to found your blog!

  20. Amir July 30, 2016 / 01:12

    My Jabra stealth’s language was English but suddenly change to Chinese.How can I change it to English?

  21. Lewis August 1, 2016 / 15:38

    Its unfortunate that not many people are aware of the security functionalities that Bluetooth offers. 128-bit encryption should be more than enough for just about any circumstance if call privacy is a concern. DECT seems to be less common than Bluetooth, one of the reasons is probably that Bluetooth happens to be superior in many ways, including the number of devices that can be connected and the level of encryption that is offered. This is a great resource to point your customers to if they are a bit confused as the what the differences are between the two.

    • Jack August 2, 2016 / 16:57

      You must be misinformed as both DECT and Bluetooth are insecure.
      About Bluetooth : “maximal security of E0 is equivalent to that provided by 65-bit keys, and that longer keys do not improve security”.
      Even NSA published a Bluetooth Security Recommendations paper.
      And DECT has been cracked by dedected.

  22. Gloria August 12, 2016 / 04:27

    Need instructions for Headset jabra vbt135

  23. Terry M. Oneil August 31, 2016 / 15:59

    I was so confused when choosing at hearing before reading this article. Thank Daniel. The share really useful

  24. Ironhorsetrading September 10, 2016 / 15:33

    This is very nice! I am also a headset lover! but i find it sometimes very expensive to buy headsets from time to time due to the latest updates! but thanks for this Daniel

  25. Bridget September 16, 2016 / 10:14

    This was actually really informative. Glad I found this, because I was just about to buy a bluetooth and I didn’t know what I should get. I’m thinking I’ll go with DECT now. Thanks for posting this info!

  26. Nick September 18, 2016 / 08:36

    Hey Daniel,

    Cheers for the guide, it’s very interesting especially as the iPhone 7 will create a larger wireless headphones market than before.

  27. Shubham modke September 20, 2016 / 18:55

    Not giving a command What to do?????

  28. Ramita October 8, 2016 / 14:52

    I tried to connect the headset with my phone many times and I still can’t find it on my phone.

  29. Christopher Lloyd October 13, 2016 / 00:14

    Hello to all,

    Headphones come in a number of different styles, that are going to fit your ears and sound differently when you wear them. The first thing you should narrow down, when deciding on a pair of headphones is which form factor you want.


  30. SK October 15, 2016 / 05:38

    Do you think the added encryption capability of bluetooth is worth the trade off in terms of range of DECT?

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