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GS1 Australia develop implementation guidelines for RFID devices

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) have ruled that Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices with up to 4W of power may now be used in Australia in the 920-926MHz band.

This follows four years of testing on the use of 4W RFID devices by industry, led by GS1 Australia and the submission of test data to ACMA for review.

Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that allows the identification of tagged items using radio waves.

An RFID tag with a tiny computer chip, containing the Electronic Product Code (EPC), allows users to identify items. As no line of sight is required for RFID to read an EPC, the identification process is fast.

In Australia, the radio frequency spectrum is governed by the ACMA. The Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID services come under a Low Interference Potential Devices (LIPD) class licence, which until now has limited the use of RFID power to 1W between the 918 and 926 MHz band. Robustness of RFID performance is improved with an increase in the allowable power output.

GS1 Australia have developed industry-driven standards for the EPC in Australia and have lobbied with the ACMA for a regulatory change to bring Australia’s UHF RFID systems in line with international standards and regulations of other countries.

Three years ago, ACMA issued a scientific licence to GS1 Australia that enabled the organisation to issue third-party authorisations for the use of site-specific 4W power for trial to companies who wanted to implement RFID.

The purpose of the scientific licence was to gather data to assist ACMA to determine if an increase in power had any effect on devices of adjacent users of the spectrum. Reports on these trials and the results of scientific testing were submitted to the ACMA by GS1 Australia in 2007 and 2008.

In December 2008, the ACMA notified GS1 Australia that they had approved the use of RFID devices up to 4W of power between the 920 and 926 MHz band. This decision was published in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette on 15 January 2009.

According to GS1 Australia, the ACMA decision would improve the efficiency and greater ROI for companies who want to use EPC/RFID systems in their supply chain.

GS1 Australia observe that the decision to approve 4W removed a barrier to the adoption of EPC/RFID within Australia.

GS1 Australia, in conjunction with Australian Industry representative RFID vendors, users and industry associations, have developed an implementation guideline to assist companies that wish to use RFID devices with higher power.

The objective of this document is to provide a set of installation guidelines that can be used for the deployment, installation and commissioning of RFID readers operating up to 4W Effective Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) in Australia and to reduce interference to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular mobile phone networks.

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