New ETSI Standard Approved for Use of RFID in UHF Frequencies

The use of RFID tags in the European Supply Chain has taken a great step forward with the approval by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) of a new standard for the use of RFID in UHF frequencies. This news has even greater impact now that the Frequency Management Working Group of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations has approved the recommendation to make the frequency band associated with this standard available in their 46 Member countries.

The ETSI Technical Committee - Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio spectrum Matters (ERM), has delivered a two part Standard (EN 302 208) that gives the industry much needed guidance on the minimum characteristics considered necessary to make the best use of the available frequencies for RFID. This new standard will allow companies to market High Power RFID tags and readers in all national markets of the European Union and EFTA, by showing compliance with the European Union Radio & Tele-communications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTE Directive).

Karl Heinz Rosenbrock, the ETSI Director General, commented:

"This Candidate Harmonised European Standard has been produced by ETSI at the demand of our Members. We will endeavour to be available to produce further specifications, for UHF and for other frequency ranges as demanded."

EPCglobal, the global organisation that is leading the drive to standardise and promote the Electronic Product Code (EPC), which combines Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) with a network system to capture information and enable real-time identification and sharing of information throughout the global supply chain, welcomes this new standard as a important contribution to enabling interoperability and increased opportunities for manufacturers and retailers.. It is delighted that after three years of sustained effort similar functionalities to those in the US will now be available in Europe, enabling global use of the UHF technology for RFID.

Chris Adcock, president of EPCglobal Inc, said:

"This positive development will help greatly in advancing the use of RFID tags and will enable the use of the EPC across supply chain operations in Europe.

The collaborative efforts of our user community, our expert team and ETSI have enabled this new UHF standard to be agreed throughout Europe."

The importance of this new standard to industry is immediately apparent. Mr Zygmunt Mierdorf, Member of the Management Board of Metro AG, one of the leading retailers worldwide commented:

"We welcome this news. It gives added momentum to our plans to introduce RFID technology, as we will be able to use UHF without having to obtain special licences. Advantageously, it will also allow our suppliers to use the same technology worldwide".

Similarly, Mr Alan Estevez of the US Department of Defense added:

"We are delighted to receive the announcement of the approval of this new standard for RFID at UHF. This spectrum approval provides for interoperability across the supply chain and will help us increase our effectiveness in getting the right material, to the right place at the right time. This news also provides assurances to our suppliers that the industry is maturing and creating RFID standards that will improve supply chain traceability and responsiveness."

ETSI - the European Telecommunications Standards Institute - is officially responsible for standardization in telecommunications, broadcasting and certain aspects of information technology within Europe. It produces a wide range of standards and other technical documentation as Europe's contribution to world-wide standardization. A non-profit making organization based in Sophia Antipolis, France, ETSI unites nearly 700 members from more than 50 countries inside and outside Europe, and brings together manufacturers, network operators, administrations, service providers, research bodies and users - in fact, all the key players in the ICT arena.

The new standard EN 302 208 (parts 1 and 2) applies to RFID interrogators, with either integral or external antennas, used in conjunction with their RFID transponders (tags). The interrogators operate within 200 kHz sub-bands using a modulated carrier. The tags respond with a modulated signal.

Radio frequency identification products covered within the standard are considered by definition short-range devices. Power limits up to a maximum e.r.p. of 2 W are specified for this equipment in the UHF range (865 MHz to 868 MHz).