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Transponder News

A news service reporting on developments regarding the use of radio based tagging transponder systems for commerce and scientific applications. Covering the RFID technologies, EAS technologies and magnetic coupled techniques.

RFID restrictive power regulations and IT

This is the tale of two countries.

RFID passive systems use the power radiated from a reader, to provide them with operating power which they then use to pass back information about their identity. Passive transponders are so energy efficient that they can manage without the need for onboard batteries, an important issue both from the point of view of cost and environmental displosal at the end of their useful lives.

RF energy radiated from an antenna disipates very quickly through space. Everytime the distance from the radiating antenna doubles, the power available quarters.

This is where our tale starts!!
A fictitious Mr Smith has a fictitious radio operating in the same band as that allocated for RFID applications which he uses to listen to broadasts from satelites. In order that RFID systems do not interfere with his rights to listen to the broadcasts, the regulators in Mr Smith's home country in Europe have put a tight restriction on RFID systems allowing a maximum of 0.5 wattsERP so that Mr Smith can still operate his radio interference free just three meters from an RFID reader.

Mr Smith now decides to travel to the fictitious country in Africa called Bopetikosweti. In Bopetikosweti the government has decided that RFID is an important technology that should be encouraged so that it can use advanced Information Systems, where computers are able to automatically identify items in close proximity to the readers, where due to their lack of skilled staff they compliment their small goverment staff by using the most modern technology, both in government, agriculture, health, industry and mining. In Bopetikosweti the governemt has regulated the maximum power radiated from an RFID system as 10 wattsERP. In Bopetikotsweti Mr Smith will find that despite the power being allowed is 20 times that of his home town, he only experiences interference from a reader when he is closer than 13 meters from the reader.!!!

If Mr Smith approached a factory with his radio, and if he did not know where the reader was in the factory, he would be unable to determine the power being used as the levels of interference are identical if he was 3 meters from his home system or 13 meters from the Bopetikotsweti authorised system. In fact what this shows is that the different in regulations only relate to the distance from 3 meters to 13 meters around a reader, and the REST OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY is unaffected. Yet it is these regulations that mean that Bopetikosweti can have the most advanced IT systems in the world, and Europe through its own regulations around the missing 10 meters stays in the dark ages.

There have been major advances in Europe in the past few years in standardising on an RFID frequency at 868MHz. The Europeans now need to take the next step and allow their citizens to start using modern day technology, by relaxing the very restrictive power regulations that really deal with the situations in the very close situations to the RFID readers and not the country as a whole.

Unfortunately only the Europeans can make these changes happen!!!


PS: The Editor has been informed unofficially that the EU are expected to significantly increase the powers for UHF RFID in 2004.

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