What is RFID?

What is RFID?

What is RFID? 2501 1313 Efruz ÖZHÜSREV

What is RFID? How is it defined?

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the wireless non-contact use of radio frequency waves to transfer data. RFID systems usually consist of an RFID reader, RFID tags and antennas.

How RFID Works?

Tagging items with RFID tags allows users to automatically and uniquely identify and track inventory and assets. RFID takes auto-ID technology to the next level by allowing tags to be read without line of sight and having a read range from a few centimeters to over 20+ meters, depending on the type of RFID.

RFID has come a long way from its initial application in World War II to identify aircraft as friend or foe. Of course, not only does the technology continue to improve year over year, but the cost of implementing and using an RFID system continues to decrease, making RFID more cost-effective and efficient.

RFID Types

Within the Electromagnetic Spectrum, there are three main frequency ranges used for RFID transmissions. These are; Low Frequency, High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency.

Low Frequency RFID Systems

General Frequency Range: 30 – 300 kHz
Primary Frequency Range: 125 – 134 kHz
Reading Range: Contact – 10 Centimeters
Average Cost per Tag: US$ 0.15 – US$ 5.00
Applications: Animal Tracking, Access Control, Car Keychain, High Volume Liquid and Metal Applications
Pros: Works well near Liquids and Metals, Global Standards
Cons Very Short Reading Range, Limited Memory Quantity, Low Data Transmission Rate, High Production Cost

LF RFID Systems not exceeding 10 centimeters, also called Proximity

Low Frequency (LF) systems are generally produced at 125 KHZ.

High Frequency RFID Systems

Primary Frequency Range: 13.56 MHz
Reading Distance Close Contact – 30 Centimeters
Average Cost per Tag: USD 0.10 – 10.00
Applications: DVD Kiosks, Library Books, Personal ID Cards, Poker/Gaming Chips, NFC Applications
Pros: NFC Global Protocols, Larger Memory Options, Global Standards
Cons Short Reading Interval, Low Data Transmission Rate

High Frequency 13.56 MHZ HF RFID Systems

13.56 MHZ is defined as high frequency.

Ultra High Frequency RFID Systems

General Frequency Range: 300 – 3000 MHz
Primary Frequency Ranges: 433 MHz, 860 – 960 MHz

Ultra High Frequency is defined as UHF

The wave frequency defined as UHF in RFID systems corresponds to 868 MHZ.

There are two types of RFID available in the Ultra High Frequency range: Active RFID and Passive RFID

Primary Frequency Range: 433 MHz, (can use 2.45 GHz – under Ultra High Frequency Range)
Reading Range: 30 – 100+ Meters
Average Cost per Tag: US$ 25.00 – US$ 50.00
Applications: Vehicle Tracking, Auto Manufacturing, Mining, Construction, Asset Tracking
Pros: Very Long Read Range, Lower Infrastructure Cost (compared to Passive RFID), Large Memory Capacity, High Data Transmission Rates
Cons: High Cost per Tag, Transportation Restrictions (due to batteries), Need for Complex Software, High Interference from Metals and Liquids; Few Global Standards

In addition to active and passive RFID tags, there are also semi-active or semi-passive RFID tags defined as BAP. You can get detailed information about BAP tags from this link.

Passive RFID

Primary Frequency Ranges: 860 – 960 MHz
Reading Distance Close Contact – 25 Meters
Average Cost per Tag: USD 0.09 – USD 20.00
Applications: Supply Chain Tracking, Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Electronic Tolling, Inventory Tracking, Race Scheduling, Asset Tracking
Pros: Long Reading Range, Low Cost per Tag, Wide Range of Tag Sizes and Shapes, Global Standards, High Data Transmission Rates
Cons High Equipment Costs, Medium Memory Capacity, High Interference from Metals and Liquids

Primary Subsets of Passive RFID

The relatively wide 860 – 960 MHz range is recognized as the ‘Global Standard’ for UHF Passive RFID; however, its late adoption has led to the range being further divided into two key sub-groups – 865 – 868 MHz and 902 – 928 MHz.

865 – 868 MHz – ETSI

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is the governing body that sets and supports nationwide standards for communication over multiple channels, including Radio Waves, in Europe. According to ETSI regulations, RFID equipment and tags are only allowed to communicate in the smaller frequency range of 865 – 868 MHz, since other types of radio communications are allocated to subsets of the broader 860 – 960 MHz range. Our beautiful country is also subject to this regulation.

Since ETSI sets the standards for Europe, but when buying tags and equipment, the standard can be called ETSI or EU, which stands for Europe.

902 – 928 MHz – FCC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the governing body in the United States that sets and promotes nationwide communications standards through multiple channels, including Radio Waves. FCC regulations specify that RFID tags and equipment can only operate between 902 – 928 MHz because, like Europe, other types of communications are allocated to the remaining portions of the wider 860 – 960 MHz range.

RFID Equipment or Tags that are FCC certified or located in the North American Frequency Range, or NA, may be used in North America.

RFID Frekansları Tablosu

Distribution of RFID Signals by Region


As both ETSI and FCC were the first major standards to be approved, many countries adopted one or the other, or created their own standards in a subset of both frequency ranges. For example, Argentina chose to adopt the FCC range of 902 – 928 MHz, while neighboring Armenia chose to implement its own smaller 865.6 – 867.6 MHz band within the ETSI range.

While regional regulations such as FCC and ETSI are typically discussed using frequency ranges, there are other characteristics that each country regulates, such as the amount of radiated power (ERP or EIRP). Some countries are stricter and regulate where RFID can be used, the amount of frequency “hopping” that must be used, or that a license is required to use RFID. In our country, the Telecommunications Authority sets the standards for the use of this technology. Therefore, it may be necessary to obtain the necessary permissions from the TK as the authority for the import, installation and commissioning of related products.

*Each region needs its own regional operating frequency, contact us to find yours.



With nearly 20 years of management, system analysis, product development and software experience, he leads the digital transformation projects of companies from different sectors. He offers optimized projects and sustainable solutions in the field of information technologies with RFID, RTLS, Pick To Light, IoT and Industry 4.0 solutions, special software and integrations. Follow on LinkedIn

All Posts By: Efruz ÖZHÜSREV
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