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Specialist Task Force 397 Phase 3:
Verification of mitigation techniques for the co-existence of E-GSM-R and RFID

Who we are:

Team Leader: Josef Preishuber-Pfluegl, CISC Semiconductor GmbH
Detlef Führer, FBConsulting s.r.l
Team Members: Dirk Schattschneider, Deutsche Bahn AG
Georg Ramsch, Checkpoint Systems
Dieter Horst, Siemens AG 

What we do:

This STF will in Phase 3 develop RFID equipment that supports mitigation methods developed in Phase 1 and Phase 2. The equipment will be used for test series with the target to show that UHF RFID and E-GSM-R as used by the railways can co-exist in the 915-921 MHz band.

For more details, see our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

The European Commission has identified RFID as a technology that can bring fundamental improvements to the Community. This is not only in terms of improvements to the efficiency of business but also in terms of the quality of people’s lives. Already RFID is being adopted at an increasing rate across a wide range of applications.

 To make provision for this growth in demand, in 2008 ETSI submitted a request to ECC for additional spectrum at UHF for RFID. Details of this request are described in SRDoc TR 102 649-2. The document identified that the frequency range 915 – 921 MHz, which acts as a guard band between the uplink and downlink for GSM, was substantially unused. ECC was asked to consider whether this band could be designated for use by RFID.

 Not long afterwards the railways said that they wished to extend the downlink band used by GSM-R to include the frequency range 918 – 921 MHz. The ECC agreed to their request. In subsequent discussions between the railways and ERM TG34, the railways said that they were agreeable to sharing the band with RFID provided that it did not adversely affect their operations.

 In order to investigate whether sharing would be possible, ETSI established STF 397. The work of this task force was divided into two phases. During the first phase the experts in the STF devised mitigation techniques that would prevent interference between RFID and E-GSM-R. Their theoretical predictions were supported by practical measurements. The results from Phase 1 are described in the Technical Specification TS 102 902. The results from Phase 1 were used as the basis for the subsequent work in Phase 2. This work involved the specification of the tests that would be required in an ETSI standard to ensure that RFID equipment would not interfere with E-GSM-R and that the mitigation techniques would function as intended. Phase 2 concluded with the publication of a Technical Specification (TS 102 903) and a successful demonstration of principle.

 The purpose of the work is to validate that the mitigation techniques specified during Phases 1 and 2 of STF 397 perform as intended in a real operating environment. The requirement for these tests is essential in order to demonstrate that E-GSM-R and RFID can co-exist in the same band. To do this an agreed set of tests will be carried out at a working site nominated by the railways.

 Additional spectrum at UHF will give considerable benefits to RFID. If the proposed band is agreed, it will permit the use of higher powers and faster data rates. Higher power levels will become increasingly necessary with the demand for greater reading ranges and the need for improved reading reliability. Faster data rates will enable the technology to be used with faster moving tagged items or alternatively in situations where higher populations of tags need to be identified (such as with multiple tagged items in pallets). A further benefit is that, with the use of frequency diversity, it will be possible to overcome the problem of standing wave nulls. Also frequency diversity can be used as a means of location, which will provide end-users with very significant operational benefits. From an ETSI perspective one of the major benefits will be that RFID in Europe would operate within the same band used globally by most of the other major trading nations. This will resolve problems associated with the movements of tagged goods between Regions. The global harmonisation of frequencies will also be in line with the broad objectives of the ITU.

The successful conclusion of the compatibility study by ECC-SE24 will rely heavily on the input provided by STF 397. If the recommendation by SE24 is positive, it will hopefully lead to the publication of a deliverable by WGFM recommending designation of shared use of the band 915 – 921 MHz by RFID. Such an outcome will lead to the development of a new version of the ETSI standard EN 302 208, which would make possible the use of RFID in the new band.

How we do it:

The work will be carried out in three parts commencing in the first quarter of 2012.

  • Part 1 Specification of the modifications to the hardware and firmware of two interrogators for conversion to demonstrators for use in the tests. Specification of the acceptance tests for the demonstrators. Preparation of the test plan for the Preliminary Tests and the Trial at an operational site.
  • Part 2 Implementation of the specified modifications for the conversion of two interrogators into demonstrators. Subsequently the performance of the demonstrators shall be validated against the specified acceptance tests.
  • Part 3 Preliminary Tests will be carried out at an operational site that is representative of a typical railway environment. This will enable a number of key parameters to be optimised. Subsequently a full trial will be performed at a working site operated by the railways. The Trial will verify that the mitigation techniques perform as intended under an agreed set of scenarios.

Based on the successful outcome of the demonstration of principle, there is every reason to believe that the mitigation techniques will perform satisfactorily. However there remains a risk that the modification of interrogators to include some of the more advanced features described in TS 102 902 may present some unforeseen challenges. This could cause a delay or a possible modification to the programme.


A Technical Specification will be published specifying the changes required to interrogators together with acceptance tests following modification. The document will also define the test plan both for the preliminary tests and for the trial at an operational site.

A Technical Report will be produced that describes the results of the Preliminary Tests and of the Trial at the operational site.

Time plan:

The following steps will be necessary to perform the work

  • Start of the work 6 Feb 2012
  • Complete draft TS 15 Apr 2012
  • Approval draft TS by TG34 1 May 2012
  • Start work on conversion of interrogators to demonstrators 1 May 2012
  • Acceptance of demonstrators 31 August 2012
  • Start preliminary tests 15 September 2012
  • Start trials 15 October 2012
  • Complete draft TR 15 December 2012
  • Submission of TS and TR to ERM/TG34 for approval 15 December 2012
  • Final STF report and project closure 31 January 2013
  • ERM/TG34 approval TS, TR and Final Report February 2013
  • TC ERM approval March 2013
  • Publication April 2013

How to contact us:

If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader Josef Preishuber-Pflügl ( )


This information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2012-02-13 09:55:38