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A Summary of RFID Standards

It's commonly said that there are no standards in RFID. In fact, there are many well-established standards and a few emerging standards. Here's a guide to the most important ones.
By Bob Violino
Gen 2 was designed to be fast-tracked within ISO, but a last minute disagreement over something called an Application Family Identifier (AFI) is likely to slow ISO approval. All ISO RFID standards have an AFI, an 8-bit code that identifies the origin of the data on the tag. Gen 2 has an 8-bit block of code that can be used for an AFI, but it is not required under the standard. (Requiring the eight bits to be used for an ISO AFI would have limited EPCglobal's control over EPCs.) But vendors are making product based on the new Gen 2 standard, which paves the way for global adoption of EPC technology in the supply chain.

ISO Standards
ISO has developed RFID standards for automatic identification and item management. This standard, known as the ISO 18000 series, covers the air interface protocol for systems likely to be used to track goods in the supply chain. They cover the major frequencies used in RFID systems around the world. The seven parts are:

18000–1: Generic parameters for air interfaces for globally accepted frequencies

18000–2: Air interface for 135 KHz

18000–3: Air interface for 13.56 MHz

18000–4: Air interface for 2.45 GHz

18000–5: Air interface for 5.8 GHz

18000–6: Air interface for 860 MHz to 930 MHz

18000–7: Air interface at 433.92 MHz

EPCglobal's Gen 2 standard could be submitted to ISO under 18000-6, but it's not clear when that will happen or how quickly it will be approved. ISO slowed approval of 18000-6 to see if it could be aligned with Gen 2. EPCglobal has set up a committee to try to resolve the issue. Requiring an AFI would require going through a formal process of amending the EPC standard. End users would like there to be one international standard for tracking goods through the open supply chain using UHF RFID tags. But it could take another year before that finally happens.

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