DoT may de-license spectrum for RFID

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Bangalore: Global technology majors, including IBM, HP, NXP Semiconductors and Ricoh Infoprint have approached the Department of Telecom (DoT) for de-licensing the use of spectrum for Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID). The companies are now seeking permission to use 13.56 Mhz frequency band, reports Business Line.

Some of the tags embedded into products for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader. Most commonly used in enterprise supply chain management to improve efficiency of inventory tracking, RFID is now being used in new areas like smart cards used in public transportation, alarm systems, animal tracking and gas cylinder tagging.

Senior DoT officials said that the request made by the companies is under consideration and may be permitted. "All these devices are beneficial and it does not cause any harm from the point of interference with other spectrum users. The U.S. and European regulators have exempted this range of frequency band for short range devices," DoT sources said.

As per DoT records, this band is currently being used partly by ONGC and Essar Oil for their internal communication. RFIDs may not cause any interference to existing users since they involve very low transmit power.

However the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP), which governs spectrum usage in the country, does not have any provisions to use 13.56 Mhz in a license-free environment. According to a DoT internal note, this issue will be taken to the NFAP review meeting.

However, there are concerns about the possibility of someone hacking and using the information stored in RFID chips. RFID coupled with other technologies, could allow tracking of people without their knowledge.

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