Delays and Uncertainty Challenge RFID Standards in China

Government silence, EPCGlobal's aggressive move into market leave national standard in limbo, ABI reports

Government silence, EPCGlobal's aggressive move into market leave national standard in limbo, ABI reports

Oyster Bay, NY — August 21, 2006 — Silence from the national government and aggressive marketing by radio frequency identification standards body EPCGlobal are combining to create a climate of uncertainty around the issue of RFID standards in China, according to a new report from ABI Research.

While official efforts toward setting a Chinese RFID standard remain in limbo, the challenge for the near future will be the rapidly changing conditions "on the ground," ABI's recent study, "The RFID Market in China: Assessment of Chinese RFID Market Opportunities and Regulatory Issues."

In July 2006, EPCglobal's UHF Generation 2 air interface protocol was incorporated into the ISO/IEC 18000 6 Amendment 1, as Type C. But according to ABI Research analyst Junmei He, "As the RFID standard issue enters a new stage aimed at speeding up the adoption of RFID tags globally, the Chinese government remains silent about where the national RFID standard is heading."

Challenges for Government

One month previously, a Chinese RFID technology policy whitepaper was published without even a discussion of the national standard issue. Meanwhile, EPCglobal is seizing the initiative. In April 2006, EPCglobal Hong Kong launched its EPCglobal Industry Support Program (EISP) to lend financial, technological and implementation support for EPC adoption in enterprises across Hong Kong and Southern China.

The Chinese government is now facing at least three challenges to setting up its own standard. First, Chinese manufacturers' partners in the supply chain will require them to use RFID tags complying with the international standard EPCglobal UHF G2.

At the same time, Chinese manufacturers' foreign clients that are planning to adopt RFID will request that shipments carry tags complying with the EPC UHF G2 standard. Finally, EPCglobal's aggressive move in the heartland of Chinese manufacturing is now turning the EPCglobal UHF G2 standard into a de facto standard on the mainland.

"Late Already"

"The reality is that for the Chinese government, it is no long important when the national standard will be released. It is late already," says He. "More urgent problems are to decide how the government should cooperate or negotiate with EPCglobal; to establish policies to protect the development of the domestic RFID industry; and to secure the benefits of RFID for Chinese tag users in the coming RFID era."

The ABI study "The RFID Market in China" examines the Chinese RFID market, including low, high and ultra high (LF, HF, UHF) and microwave. It introduces major projects, and discusses the applications of different RFID frequencies. A company profile section introduces the major Chinese RFID vendors, including integrated circuit (IC) vendors, hardware vendors, packaging and tag vendors and integrators.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Contemplating RFID? Here are three critical questions to answer before embarking on a radio frequency identification initiative. Read "Recognizing Real RFID Adoption Potential," in the February/March 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— A recent independent study revealed that Wal-Mart customers are finding the items they wanted in stock more often due to the retailer's use of RFID technologies when compared to control stores. Read more in "Wal-Mart Achieving Improved On-shelf Availability with RFID, Study Finds" on