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Can RFID Track Cell-Tower Assets?

Posted By RFID Journal, 03.20.2014

Do you think using tags on items located in a tower would be problematic, due to signal interference?

—Name withheld


It could be. It would depend on the type of RFID system being used, as well as the cell tower's broadcast frequency.

Time division multiple access (TDMA), code division multiple access (CDMA) and integrated digital enhanced network (IDEN) technologies typically broadcast at 800 MHz or 1900 MHz, while Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) solutions in the United States broadcast at 850 MHz, 1800 MHz or 1900 MHz. Some systems might operate close to 900 MHz, depending on the regulations in place within a particular country.

Passive low-frequency (LF) RFID systems operate at 125 kHz or 134 kHz. Passive high-frequency (HF) systems operate at 13.56 MHz. Passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID systems operate at 860 MHz to 960 MHz. And active RFID systems operate at 433 MHz, 915 MHz, 2.45 GHz and 5.6 GHz. I would say there would be little interference with LF and HF systems, but it is possible for cell towers to interfere with passive UHF systems, if the cell tower were broadcasting in the 900 MHz range.

Keep in mind that energy radiating out from the cell tower might not affect items at the tower's base, or the ability to read tags on the back of cell antennas, though I would conduct some tests to be sure. If any of our readers have experience with tracking assets around a cell tower, I would be grateful if they would please share their learnings below.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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