What radio frequencies are used to read RFID tags? Are different frequencies utilized for inventory tracking, as opposed to monetary transactions?
The main frequencies used by passive tags are 125 KHz, 134 KHz (low-frequency), 13.56 MHz (high-frequency) and 860 to 956 MHz (ultrahigh-frequency). Active tags typically use 433 MHz, 2.45 GHz and sometimes 5.6 GHz.
Any of these frequencies can be employed for inventory-tracking purposes, depending on the range required. LF and HF tags, for instance, are sometimes used to track inventory on shelves, if a company needs to track items within a couple of feet. Active tags can be used to track inventories of larger items over distances of 100 feet or more. Passive UHF is emerging as a popular choice for inventory in warehouses, DCs and stockrooms, because it is cheaper than active tags and offers a read range sufficiently long for tags to be read as products move through a dock door, or on items stacked high on racks.
Virtually all systems that use RFID for monetary transactions operate at 13.56 MHz. That's because the shorter read range is an advantage (you don't want shoppers in adjacent aisles to both be charged for a purchase), and because there is a well-established air interface protocol for secure transactions at that frequency (ISO 14443). Near-Field Communication (NFC), which is also being adopted for payment and other applications, uses 13.56 MHz as well.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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