RFID development in Europe will not be hindered by frequency, says standards body

Differences in frequency and power levels for radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies between Europe and the US will be negligible and will not affect the competitiveness of UK businesses, according to not-for-profit standards body, e.centre.


Concerns were raised at a recent e.centre RFID conference, that European radio regulations could compromise RFID use across the continent, negating the benefits of the technology. Andrew Osborne, Chief Technology Officer for e.centre, said that the levels expected to be approved would enable European firms to closely emulate US reader systems, which are more powerful. He added that retailers and suppliers alike should therefore continue planning for the widespread adoption of the technology.


"There is a lot of confusion about the power and frequency of RFID tags and readers and this needs to be addressed," he said. "However, there is a clear timetable for European frequency and power regulations to be finalised both at a continental and country level. This means that tags can move internationally and be easily read." 


European regulation of power levels will be resolved later this year, but they are likely to allow operation at 2 Watts ERP (effective radiated power) level, which gives 90 per cent of the range of the 4 Watt EIRP (equivalent isotropic radiated power) level allowed in US readers. Power levels affect the distance at which tags can be read.


The proposed new regulations will enable tags to operate in the 865-868MHz band. The same tags will also work in the 902 to 928-MHz range used in North and South America and in the bands expected to be used in China and Japan.


Osborne concluded, "What is important is that both retailers and suppliers get ready for the arrival of RFID. They should run pilot schemes within those power ranges and frequencies and find which products and systems work best for them ahead of a full deployment."


e.centre launched its EPCglobal Gateway service last month to support its members' moves towards RFID. It gives suppliers and retailers alike access to interest groups, training and regular updates on the latest developments in the technology.

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