How can we use radio frequency identification technology to track our devices? Is there a case study that we can utilize as a benchmark?
We published a story about the tracking of telecommunications equipment in 2007 (see Telcos' Dual Vision for RFID). In the article, writer Elizabeth Wasserman described how AT&T has employed RFID to record when a piece of equipment is added to or removed from a repair vehicle.
It sounds like you want to use RFID to track thousands of deployed pieces of equipment across a wide geographic area. AT&T's approach—to place a tag on each piece of equipment, and to then read each tag whenever an item is installed or removed from the network—might suffice. If you want to utilize the technology to continually monitor the whereabouts of every deployed item, 24-7, in real time, then I'm unaware of any telecom company currently doing this. What's more, it would be very costly to deploy a real-time location system (RTLS) to monitor thousands of deployed devices across a wide geographic area.
However, if most of the telecom equipment to be tracked is concentrated within central offices and data centers, then it would be feasible to track equipment 24-7 in real time. A number of companies are doing just that, including telecom service provider Comcast (see Comcast Puts RFID in Data Centers to Track Assets), as well as non-telecom companies, including Cisco Systems (see Cisco Tracks IT Assets Via RFID) and Bank of America (see Bank of America Deploys RFID in Data Centers).
In addition, we have run a number of articles about tracking IT assets (of which telecom assets are a particular type). See T-Systems, Intel Test RFID to Track Servers at Model Data Center and Vizualiiz's LightsOn Solution Uses RFID to Locate Servers as examples.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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