International Standardization Organizations

The main international organizations that create and publish technical standards and specifications are the ISO and IEC. Other important international organizations are the ITU, which governs telecommunication and radiocommunication around the world, and the UPU, which governs postal communication including digital services and mail tracking. These organizations develop global standards and guidelines that are related to the RFID systems.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

The ISO develops technical standards and specifications for various products, services, processes, materials, and systems. The ISO has also developed standards for goods conformity assessment and managerial and organizational practices for industrial and business organizations as well as governments and other regulatory bodies.

ISO standards help with the efficiency, safety, and environmental impact of the development, manufacturing, and supply of products and services. These standards provide the technical basis for governments to create regulations around health, safety, and environmental issues. The ISO's general goal is to safeguard consumers and users of products and services.

The ISO regulates all areas except the parts associated with electricity, electronics, and related technologies, which are governed by the IEC. The ISO and IEC came together, creating the Joint Technical Committee for Information Technology (JTC1).

Table 9.1 describes the most important standards related to RFID systems developed by the ISO (in cooperation with the IEC).

Table 9.1: ISO/IEC Standards Related to RFID
Open table as spreadsheet



ISO/IEC 10373

Identification cards-test methods

ISO 10374

Freight containers-automatic identification (RF automatic identification)

ISO 11784


Animal tracking standards including RFID identification codes for animals and means for animal data communication

ISO 14223

Radio frequency identification of animals-advanced transponders

ISO/IEC 14443

Proximity cards-guidelines for RF power, signal interface, transmission protocol, and physical characteristics

ISO 14814

Road transport and traffic telematics-automatic vehicle and equipment identification-reference architecture and terminology

ISO/IEC 15434

Syntax for high-capacity automatic data capture (ADC) media

ISO/IEC 15459-1

Unique identifiers-Part 1: Unique identifiers for transport units

ISO/IEC 15459-4

Unique identifiers-Part 4: Unique identifiers for supply-chain management

ISO/IEC 15693

Vicinity cards-air interface, initialization, anticollision, transmission protocol, and physical characteristics

ISO/IEC 15961

RFID for item management-Data protocol: application interface

ISO/IEC 15962

RFID for item management-Data protocol: data-encoding rules and logical memory functions

ISO/IEC 15963

RFID for item management-unique identification of RF tags

ISO 1736X series

Series related to shipping container applications of RFID

ISO/DIS 17363

Supply-chain applications of RFID-freight containers

ISO/DIS 17364

Supply-chain applications of RFID-returnable transport items

ISO/DIS 17365

Supply-chain applications of RFID-transport units

ISO/DIS 17366

Supply-chain applications of RFID-product packaging

ISO/DIS 17367

Supply-chain applications of RFID-product tagging

ISO/IEC 18000 series

RFID for item management: applies to air interface management

ISO/IEC 18000-1

Reference architecture and definition of parameters to be standardized

ISO/IEC 18000-2

Parameters for air interface communications below 135 kHz

ISO/IEC 18000-3

Parameters for air interface communications at 13.56 MHz

ISO/IEC 18000-4

Parameters for air interface communications at 2.45 GHz

ISO/IEC 18000-5

Parameters for air interface communications at 5.8 GHz (this part has been withdrawn)

ISO/IEC 18000-6 (A, B and C)

Parameters for air interface communications at 860 to 960 MHz (EPC Class 1 Generation 2-18000 Part 6C)

ISO/IEC 18000-7

Parameters for active air interface communications at 433 MHz

ISO 18185

Freight containers-electronic seals

ISO/IEC 19762-3

Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) techniques-harmonized vocabulary-Part 3: Radio frequency identification (RFID)

ISO 21007

Gas cylinders-identification and marking using RFID

ISO/IEC 22536

Telecommunications and information exchange between systems-near-field communication interface and protocol (NFCIP-1)-RF interface test methods

ISO/IEC 24730

Real-time locating systems (RTLS)

Note that the ISO specifies not only data protocols, but also air interface protocols . What is the difference? A tag data format/data protocol specifies the size and structure of the tag memory, tag data formatting and length, and the means of storing, accessing, and transferring information. A tag data standard is, for example, EPC Class 1 Generation 1 or ISO 15962.

The air interface protocol defines the rules of communication between tags and interrogators. The air interface protocol includes rules for encoding, modulation, and anticollision, as well as for reading and writing to a tag and other operations. The protocol usually does not define the tag architecture or encoding capacity of the tag. An example of an air interface protocol is the ISO 18000 Part 6A.

A standard that describes both the tag data format and air interface protocol is the EPC Generation 2/ISO 18000 Part 6C.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

The IEC prepares and publishes standards for all electro-related technologies including electronics, magnetic and electromagnetic devices, electroacoustics, multimedia, telecommunication, and energy production and distribution, as well as related areas including terminology and symbols, electromagnetic compatibility, measurement and performance, dependability, design and development, safety, and environmental effects. Standards developed by the IEC are used as a basis for national standards development and as a reference for international contracts. As I mentioned earlier, the IEC produces standards in cooperation with the ISO.

The IEC also produces conformity assessment and certification schemes in order to reassure the end user that the products meet minimum quality standards (which are high). The schemes are operated by the following organizations:

  • IEC System for Conformity Testing and Certification of Electrical Equipment (IECEE)

  • IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components (IECQ)

  • IEC Scheme for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx scheme)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

The ITU is a specialized agency of the United Nations and has 190 member countries, as well as an additional number of sector members and associates. The goal of this organization is to govern and improve international telecommunication technology and radiocommunication-based systems by producing standards and recommendations, assigning radio frequencies, managing the radio spectrum, and developing partnerships between governments and private industries to help improve the telecommunication infrastructure in underdeveloped countries.

The ITU is divided into three main sectors:

  • ITU-D (Telecommunication Development)

  • ITU-R (Radiocommunication)

  • ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization)

The sector that is related to RFID is the Radiocommunication sector. The ITU-R determines the technical characteristics and operational procedures for various wireless technologies and services. This sector also manages the radio-frequency spectrum and assigns the frequencies to various technologies and purposes.

You were probably wondering why certain frequency bands are used for RFID and not others and why some regions (Europe, for instance) have to fight hard to get a reasonable chunk of the frequency so that the RFID systems can be implemented and efficiently used. The ITUR's system is behind the reason. The frequency spectrum between 9 kHz and 400 GHz has been divided into 1,265,000 terrestrial frequency assignments, 87,096 assignments servicing 590 satellite networks, and another 46,179 assignments related to 3,163 satellite earth stations. So now you can see that RFID cannot choose its frequency bands but has to fit in with wireless and cellular networks, satellites, television and radio broadcasting, and other radio-based systems.

For the purpose of frequency assignment and management, the ITU divides the world into three main regions:

  • Region 1 Includes Europe, Africa, the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf (including Iraq), and the former Soviet Union

  • Region 2 Includes North and South America

  • Region 3 Consists of Asia (excluding the former Soviet Union) and the Middle East east of the Persian Gulf, including Iran, Australia, and Oceania

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

The UPU is the main organization overseeing postal services around the world. It participates in the development of quality, universal, efficient, and accessible postal services for people around the globe by guaranteeing the free circulation of postal items, promoting standards adoption and the application of technology, and addressing customer needs.

The UPU has also developed standards related to RFID technology. It has produced the working draft standards listed in Table 9.2, which were eventually presented to the ISO to provide some information and basis for ISO RFID standards development.

Table 9.2: UPU Standards Related to RFID
Open table as spreadsheet




Identification and marking using radio frequency identification technology: Reference architecture and terminology


Data presentation in ASN.1


Identification and marking using radio frequency identification technology: System requirements and test procedures


Radio frequency identification (RFID) and radio data capture (RDC) systems-air interfaces: Communications and interfaces Part A: Definitions of parameters to be standardized


Radio frequency identification (RFID) and radio data capture (RDC) systems-air interfaces: Communications and Interfaces Part B: Parameter values for 5.8 GHz RFID systems


Radio frequency identification (RFID) and radio data capture (RDC) systems-air interfaces: Communications and interfaces Part C: Parameter values for 2.45 GHz narrow band RFID systems


Radio frequency identification (RFID) and radio data capture (RDC) systems-air interfaces: Communications and interfaces Part G: Parameter values for 13.56 MHz band RFID systems

CompTIA RFID+ Study Guide Exam RF0-101, includes CD-ROM
CompTIA RFID+ Study Guide Exam RF0-101, includes CD-ROM
Year: 2006
Pages: 136 © 2008-2017.
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