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RFID Technologies and Frequencies: Global Standards & Applications

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Aug 29, 2023
  • RFID
RFID Technologies

“There are many things a business needs to learn about RFID technologies and global frequencies standards.”

Before implementing an RFID system into your operations, you must understand it properly to harness its full power and potential. Similar to any telecommunication technology, even RFID is heavily regulated by the government to ensure its safe usage.

So, let’s discuss all there is to know about RFID technologies and frequencies.

What is RFID Technology?

The term stands for Radio Frequency Identification, it is a type of communication technology that is used for AIDC operations. AIDC stands for, Automatic Identification and Data Collection, meaning technologies that are used to collect data and used for identification purposes, and work automatically.

In the case of RFID, these systems use wireless communication to send and receive data between different components. By exchanging this information, these systems can quickly identify and track the movement of assets between different checkpoints.

How Does it Work?

As mentioned above, this technology works by utilizing wireless communication. RFID systems use radio signals to transmit and receive data. An RF system consists of three major parts, namely – Tags/Labels, Readers, and Antennas.

The tags or labels go onto the assets and contain a microchip and a small antenna. The chip has a memory that stores the information about the assets. And uses the antenna to receive the signals from the rest of the system and communicate with them.

The readers work together with the antennas. A reader will generate a digital signal and send it to the antenna. The antennas connected to the readers will convert them into electromagnetic signals (radio waves) and broadcast them outwards.

The antennas create a field of influence around it, known as the interrogation zone. Once a tag enters this zone, it can use radio backscattering or electromagnetic induction to send back a carrier signal with the information stored in its memory. This allows RFID systems to operate without the need to be in the line of sight of one another.

Types of RFID Technologies in the Market

Due to their compatibility and automation, there are many types of RFID technologies available in the market. You can divide these systems based on different criteria. So, let’s start with that.

Operating Frequency

Different types of RFID systems can use different frequencies of radio signals to communicate. On the basis of the operating frequency, we can classify this technology into 4 types.

Low Frequency (LF)

As the name suggests, these devices operate on the lowest frequency signals. Due to the lower frequency, they have less data-carrying capacity. They are also low-powered, meaning they have less range and communication speed. Most systems nowadays, don’t use low-frequency signal bands, due to their limited functioning.

High Frequency (HF)

These systems operate in a higher range than LF systems. Unlike the LF which operates in Kilohertz (kHz), HF systems operate in Megahertz (MHz). These devices have a much better operating range and data transfer speed than LF systems. These components fall in the Goldie-Locks zone of the RFID world. They have a good transfer rate due to the high frequency but can still work in environments with water and metal surfaces.

Ultra-High Frequency (UHF)

These components operate using some of the highest radio signal frequencies available. UHF RFID systems have exceptionally good data transfer speeds. They also have high-powered signals that give them an extended range. Usually, UHF systems can communicate for 8 to 12 meters. The biggest issue with these systems is that they are extremely vulnerable to liquids and metal surfaces.


These systems communicate in the highest frequency bandwidth in the radio spectrum. These tags are generally not available in the passive tag category, as they require a lot of power which is not possible with backscattering.

These components operate in signals ranging in Gigahertz and have the highest data transfer speed and range of any other type of RFID technology.

Tag Power Source

The second criterion for the classification of RF technologies is the source of power for the tags. This technology works by the propagation of electromagnetic signals. And to generate these signals, you need energy/electricity. There are three types of RFID systems depending on their power source, namely – Passive, Active, and Battery-Assisted Passive.

Passive Systems

A passive RF tag lacks an internal power source. Instead of broadcasting a signal on its own, these tags use signal backscattering to transmit information. Whenever these tags encounter interrogation signals from the reader, their antennas reflect the signal from various angles (known as backscattering).

Active Systems

An active system has an integrated coin battery and a transmitter inside it. These help the tags broadcast a signal of their own. Having an internal power source, allows the tags to propagate a high-powered signal. Giving them an exceptionally high range of communication. Usually, active tags can communicate a little over 100 meters.

BAP Systems

These are the battery-assisted passive systems, as noted by the name, these are passive tags with an internal battery. These are still considered passive because the battery doesn’t provide them the power to broadcast a signal since these tags lack a transmitter. Instead, the internal power source allows the tag’s antennas to fully reflect the signals from the reader.


This is an important criterion for the classification of RF systems. Depending on the application, the manufacturers can use a variety of different materials to make the tags. For example, inlay only consists of a substrate that acts are a layer of protection between the chip and the environment.

On the other hand, there are tags made from ceramic that are extremely resistant against physical damage.

Communication Range

Lastly, the operational range of an RFID system. There are two types of RF systems, based on the range at which they communicate. These are Near-Field Communication and Far Field Communication.

NFC (Near-Field Communication) systems generally operate within 10 centimeters of the antenna. These use electromagnetic induction (induced coupling), to power up and transmit signals. In the case of Far-Field Communication, the tags use backscattering to communicate. Depending on the input power, frequency, size; these tags can communicate from a few inches to 12 meters.

What is Operating Frequency?

By now you probably understand that tags operate on different frequencies, but do you actually know what frequency is? As you already know, RF systems work by wireless communication using radio signals. Radio signals travel in a wave. Meaning they do not travel straight, but rather oscillate sideways while moving, kind of like a snake.

The frequency of any signal refers to the number of waves (oscillations) a signal makes within a given time frame. Generally, we calculate the number of waves in one second and represent this using the SI unit hertz. The operational frequency of an RFID system can affect a lot about its nature and application.

Frequency Standards for RFID

Most countries have specific laws and standards in place when it comes to wireless communication & telecommunication. These standards are carefully set to ensure public safety and least interruptions in operations. Depending on the country, they have a regulatory authority that sets these standards, like the FCC, DoT, SAC, etc.

However, before we dive into the different standards for RFID components around the world, let’s discuss where standards are the same. Most of the difference in standards occurs in UHF systems. Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) systems don’t have different standards in different regions. This is because, these systems mostly use magnetic induction to transmit data, meaning there is no chance of interruptions even if the tags are operating in the same frequency.

However, when it comes to UHF and active tags, these operate using free space radio frequency propagation. Basically, if two systems use the same frequency to communicate, the signals from one system can interfere with the signals from the other system. This can cause major disruptions.

This is why, the majority of these systems use signal hopping techniques and operate in different frequency bandwidths for the same type of operational frequencies. So, let’s check out the difference in frequency standards of different countries.


The regulator authority in India is known as the DoT, in full form, the Department of Telecommunication. The DoT has decided to keep a standardized frequency bandwidth for UHF and active systems. The DoT has also made the need for a license unnecessary for operating wireless systems in this frequency range. Granted that the antenna power does not exceed 1 W, with an operating frequency bandwidth of 200 kHz.

Frequency Class


Ultra-High Frequency

865 – 867 MHz

Active Systems

3.5 GHz

United States of America

In the US, the regulatory authority for RF operations is the FCC (Federal Communication Commission). The basic standard for ultra-high frequency systems in the United States is 902 – 928 MHz.


The regulatory authority that sets the standard of RFID communication in Europe is the ETSI, a full form, of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute. According to ETSI, UHF RFID systems have different frequency range standards depending on the power output.

Power Output

Frequency Range

0.1 Watt

865 – 866.5 MHz

2 Watt

866.5 - 867.5 MHz

0.5 Watt

867.5 - 868 MHz


In Japan, The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Post and Telecommunications sets the RFID frequency standards for UHF systems. The frequency standard is 952 – 954 MHz. The user may also require a license to operate such systems, depending on the power rating. If the antenna power output is below 10 mW, then no license is required. However, for systems ranging from 10 mW to 1 W, the users need a license.

What is RFID Used For?

There are many different applications of RFID technology in a variety of industries. These can range from tracking, management, security, and monitoring. So, let’s talk about the industries that use these systems.

(A). Retail Outfits

Many retail shops/stores rely on RFID for tagging their stock. These tags mainly provide these stores with improved security by preventing items from leaving the stores without authorization. In addition, these systems also automate inventory management operations and reduce the time it takes.

(B). Warehouses

With the large volume of products in the inventory in warehouses, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of things. Using RF technology makes it much simpler to manage warehouse operations. These systems automate time-consuming tasks like managing shipping manifests, locating items, cyclic audits, generating orders, etc.

(C). Supply Chains

The term supply chain encapsulates the entirety of the movement of a product from the point of manufacturing to the hands of the customers. With the help of RF systems, users can easily monitor the movement and the status of the storage environment for these items throughout the supply chain. Providing accurate tracking, quality control, and security.

(D). Parking Lots

A very popular application of RFID technology is Access Control. Most parking lots nowadays use RF tags to identify and grant access to authorized vehicles. This not only makes the parking facilities more secure but also automated.

(E). Toll Plazas

Companies like FasTags, use RF stickers on vehicles to automate or at least speed up tool booths. These stickers allow the booths to automatically charge the toll amount from the vehicles.

(F). Banks

Lastly, another popular use of RFID is in the banking sector. Have you ever seen a debit/credit card with a Wi-Fi symbol on it? That is to indicate that your card is NFC enabled. These cards have a small RFID inlay inside of them that allows contactless payment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the ISO standards for low-frequency RFID?

There are three very popular ISO standards used in low-frequency RFID tags. These are – ISO 18000-2, 11784, and 11785.

Q2. What is the difference between ISO 15693 and ISO 14443?

The are several key differences between the ISO 15693 and ISO 14443 standards. But let’s discuss the three key differences between the two.

(A). Read Range

In terms of reading range, ISO15693 is a clear winner, with a range of almost 3 feet, when compared to ISO14443’s range of 7 to 15 cm.

(B). Data Transfer Rate

ISO14443 has a much faster rate of data transfer, due to its higher Baud capacity. To clarify, the data transfer capacity of ISO15693 is 26,000 Baud, while for ISO14443 it is 106,000 Baud.

(C). Target Applications

Due to their differences, they both are suited for remarkably different applications. Whilst ISO15693 is perfect for confined environments with minimal tracking requirements, like libraries. ISO14443 is far better for access control applications, due to their small read range, making it much safer.

Q3. Who invented RFID?

The official inventor of RFID is an American inventor by the name of Charles Walton, who he files for his first RFID patent in the year 1983. Although a lot of people contributed towards to creation of this technology, but Walton is popularly known for its inventory, due to holding 10 RFID patents.

Q4. Which software is used for RFID?

There is no software that you need to read an RFID tag with a reader. The reader comes in and is built with all the required technologies. However, to connect the reader with your computer & database, and engage in tracking & identification operations, users require specialized software.

Generally, most businesses prefer to employ a 3rd party developer to create custom software for their business. The biggest benefit of custom software is that everything about it is designed to aid in the operations of your business.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Aug 29, 2023

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