ACMA grants licence renewal for RFID readers

Results of RFID pilot study to be released today

Bar code standards body, GS1 Australia, has been granted a 12 month renewal for its current 4 Watt scientific licence.

Australian regulations currently limit RFID power to 1 Watt while much of the world uses 4 Watt.

Read range depends on the power output of the RFID readers, and the difference between 1 Watt and 4 Watt is approximately a 300 percent improvement in read distance and efficiency.

For example, improving the average read range from 1 metre to 3 metres.

In Australia, radio frequency spectrum is governed by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) and UHF RFID services come under the Low Interference Potential Devices (LIPD) class licence.

The current LIPD class licence allows UHF RFID services to operate between 918 to 926 MHz at a maximum power of 1 Watt Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP).

RFID applications have been lagging in Australia when compared to the rest of the world due to the uncertainty surrounding the technology's standards.

GS1 Australia is working to address this issue with the ACMA by seeking an amendment to the LIPD class licence to allow UHF RFID services to operate at 4 Watts in the 920-926 MHz band.

ACMA renewed the current scientific licence at a recent meeting with GS1 Australia and industry representatives.

While the delegation requested a permanent change to the LIPD regulation to allow 4 Watt RFID operation, a 12 month renewal was granted, along with the request that GS1 Australia and industry RFID users continue to provide documentation to alleviate concerns with regards to the uptake of the technology's adoption locally.

Users also need to understand the cumulative effect of RFID systems operating at 4 Watts in close proximity to GSM systems

A project team of business leaders and solution providers, led by GS1 Australia, is currently being formed to examine these key points.

The EPCglobal ratified Generation 2 (referred to as Gen 2) air interface UHF RFID standard is now a part of International Standards Organisation (ISO) standard on RFID technology (ISO 18000 Part 6 Type C).

Gen2 RFID tags and readers where first used in Australia in 2006 as part of the GS1 Australia Patties/Montague pilot when they proved considerably superior to Gen1 technology in facilitating the use of EPC/RFID in a frozen food environment.

It was also used as part of the National EPC Network Demonstrator Project Extension (NDP Extension) when EPC/RFID was integrated into business processes to manage returnable assets, such as pallets, using electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) and paperless delivery.

The results of the NDP Extension will be presented at the Smart 2007 supply chain conference in Sydney today.

To pre-register for a copy of the report go to: http://www.gs1au.org/products/epcglobal/australian_activities/register/index.asp

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Sandra Rossi

Computerworld
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