The Gen 2 standard specification supports Radio Frequency transmission in the UHF frequency band between 860 and 960 MHz. While Gen 2 technology affords worldwide uses, the entire frequency range is not available in every country because of different national telecommunications regulations. In North America, Gen 2 systems typically operate between 902 and 928 MHz. European systems operate between 865 and 867 MHz, and Asia tends to use the higher end near 960 MHz. Frequency is an important variable to how RFID systems perform, affecting system range, transaction speed, and also immunity to Radio Frequency interference caused by the physical environment.
The most obvious and dramatic difference between Gen 2 and traditional contactless ID card technologies is range. Gen 2 readers can identify standard, low-cost cards without batteries from about 50 feet away (actual range depends on the installation location and other variables). Range for 13.56 MHz technology is limited to a few inches. The range of any RFID technology depends on the frequency and the amount of reader power that the tag receives. Gen 2 users can adjust the range of their systems by adjusting the power output and by using different antennas, which allow optimizations for range, sensitivity, directionality, and other factors. The same Gen 2 ID card may be readable from more than 50 feet away in one area but only from near contact in another. The ability to set range gives system designers tremendous flexibility. For example, imagine an ID card that provides employee access both to the company parking area and the building. In this case, long range is desirable for the parking area so the gate can open as the employee approaches. To prevent unauthorized people from entering just ahead of or behind the cardholder, ID cards should not unlock more secure areas from long distances. Variable range technology lets facility operators set systems for the proper blend of security, range and convenience.
Each Gen 2 chip contains a unique, preprogrammed static ID number. Users can temporarily or permanently encode additional data in the chip memory and apply different levels of security to various memory blocks. By using the “permalock” feature, organizations can lock data into Gen 2 chip memory to prevent unauthorized users from overwriting data.
Another option is 32-bit password protection that enables chips to be read or rewritten. Password protection can be applied to all or part of chip memory. Gen 2 chips can also be set only to communicate to known readers, a valuable authentication feature that helps prevent hacks and skimming. Finally, many common IT and network security protocols can be applied to networked Gen 2 readers and card printer/encoders.
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