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TI to Make UHF EPC Tags

Texas Instruments, a leading maker of 13.56 MHz transponders, is moving into the UHF market.
By Bob Violino
Sep 17, 2003By Jonathan Collins

Sept. 17, 2003 - Texas Instruments, one of the world's largest manufacturers of RFID transponders, has announced that it is entering the market for UHF chips. The company, which has long supported international standards, will make tags based on the Electronic Product Code specification, once an EPC standard is established.
TI's Allen

Bill Allen, e-marketing manager for Texas Instruments RFID Systems, says that TI could have EPC tags on the market within six months of a finalized EPC standard. "If the EPC standard is published as planned on October 31, we will have a product ready by the end of April," he says.

TI has been a leader in selling low- and high-frequency RFID tags. It has a large market share in animal tracking, access control and the automobile market. Allen says TI has been looking at UHF systems since 1999. The company decided to enter the market now because of Wal-Mart's recent decision to require its top 100 suppliers to put EPC tags on pallets and cases starting in 2005.

But TI is not abandoning its low- and high-frequency markets. "UHF still has problems, especially reading well at very short distances," Allen says. "We feel that UHF tags have their advantages and disadvantages, so we will continue to market all our products."

Most semiconductor companies make chips and sell them to third parties, which attach antennas and create finished RFID transponders. TI is one of the few silicon fabricators that makes its own transponders. TI has not set pricing for its new UHF tags, but Allen believes this will give TI a cost advantage over competitors that have to buy chips and create transponders.

Allen says TI will likely partner with reader companies in the near term, but he didn't rule out the possibility that the company would manufacture its own UHF readers. He also says that TI will support ISO 18000-6, an emerging international standard for UHF. "We have always pushed for standards and will continue to do so," says Allen.

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