UK communications watchdog Ofcom yesterday said it plans to make ultra high frequency spectrum available for RFID equipment and that users would not be required to hold a wireless telegraphy license.
Essentially, that means companies could use RFID equipment in the new 865MHZ to 868MHz spectrum without having to pay for it.
While a number of frequency bands already are open to RFID in the UK, the ultra high frequency range supports much higher rates of data transfer. In June, major UK retailer and RFID user Tesco PLC reportedly said regulations on ultra high frequency spectrum had hindered its RFID progress.
Ofcom is now moving to remove that roadblock. Advanced RFID tags could lead to improved efficiency in the supply chain, meaning greater transparency and lower costs for consumers, Ofcom said in a statement. RFID can also be used to store owner information on personal items in an effort to discourage theft. Commercial organizations have emphasized the value RFID would bring to asset management and other areas of the business.
Ofcom, which is responsible for civil use of the UK radio spectrum, said it moved ahead with a license-free RFID spectrum after first getting the green light from the UK’s privacy watchdog Office of the Information Commission.
The OIC released a statement of its own stating that RFID tags may be used in all circumstances where the Data Protection Act 1998 is unlikely to apply, such as tagging pallets of goods and monitoring the movement from warehouse to stores.
Even when personal information is involved it is perfectly possible to comply with the Act, the OIC said. When RFID tags do contain personal information, the Act would apply, it said. In particular, this means that individuals should be aware when information about them is being collected and what it will be used for, read the OIC statement.
Ofcom said that any concerns relating to privacy and RFID usage should be taken to the Department of Trade of Industry and not Ofcom.
Ofcom has published draft regulations, which are open to public consultation until September 12.