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European Agencies Consider the Expansion of Spectrum for UHF RFID

An upcoming meeting will explore the possibility of assigning the 915 to 921 MHz RF band for RFID applications.
By Rhea Wessel
Apr 01, 2011A group of European spectrum users and administrators will meet at the offices of the Bundesnetzagentur (Germany's Federal Network Agency, which regulates telecommunications and RF spectrum in that country) in Mainz, on Apr. 4-5, to discuss the steps that would need to be taken in order to make more ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) spectrum available in Europe for radio frequency identification and other short-range devices (SRDs).

Compared with other regions around the world, Europe has the least amount of UHF spectrum allotted for RFID applications. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) EN 302 208 standard, used in European countries, specifies the 865.6 to 867.6 MHz UHF band for RFID use, and makes provision for a so-called four-channel plan. An unlimited number of readers can operate in each of the four transmit channels, each of which is 200 kHz in width, while the tag responses utilize the other 11 channels available within that band. In the United States, on the other hand, RFID interrogators and tags can use any of 50 different 500 kHz channels residing in the 902 to 928 MHz UHF band.

ECO's Thomas Weber
The meeting will take place amid concerns from some manufacturers and users of short-range devices regarding the proliferation of RFID and potential frequency interference, as well as worries that uncertainty about spectrum could lead to delays in the implementation of RFID applications.

For instance, Bert Moore, a consultant for automatic-identification trade association AIM Global, wrote in an article posted on the organization's Web site, "Clearly, one concern about the possible allocation of new frequencies is that a considerable amount of money has been spent on research and development of existing RFID systems. Allocation of different frequencies could delay implementations of existing devices because of uncertainty about future regulatory actions and would require significant development costs for new devices."

At the meeting, attendees—including hardware and software makers, as well as users of RFID technologies—will consider a proposal created for ETSI by individuals in the market for RFID, smart metering and SRDs who seek additional spectrum capacity. ETSI adopted the request, and is asking spectrum regulators at the European level for the 915 to 921 MHz band to be made available for use by the RFID market, and to designate the 870 to 876 MHz band to SRDs and smart metering. The existing UHF RFID spectrum—865.6 to 867.6 MHz—would also remain available for radio frequency identification.

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