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Appendix C | Technology as a key determinant of viability

Box C2

Transmission frequency

RFID tags use low, high, ultra-high and microwave frequencies. Each frequency

has advantages and disadvantages that make them more suitable for some

applications than for others.

Low frequency tags operate within the band 30 kHz to 300 kHz, but typically at

125 kHz or 134 kHz. Their read range is one metre and the rate of data transfer

is slow, but they are less subject to interference than UHF tags.

UHF tags operate within the band 300 MHz to 3 GHz, but typically between 866

and 960 MHz. They can send information faster and farther than high and low

frequency tags, but the radio waves don’t pass through items with high water

content, such as fruit, at these frequencies.

Microwave tags generally refer to RFID tags that operate at 5.8 GHz. They have

very high transfer rates and a read range of 10 metres, but are expensive and

use a lot of power.

event of theft, accident or driver’s sudden illness is becoming commonplace as the

cost of devices fall and an increasing number of vehicles are factory-fitted with the

system.

While GPS is currently the only fully functional satellite navigation system, the

European Union and the European Space Agency have collaborated to produce an

alternative, independent system, Galileo, due to be fully functional in 2008.

There have been a number of hurdles regarding the use of GPS for road user charging.

Technical issues involve the question of accuracy and ‘urban canyons’ where signal

is poor. However, these appear to be resolved by the launch of an extra six GPS

satellites, bringing the total to 30 and ensuring ‘redundancy’ in the system.

Pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance, using satellite tracking systems, have been

available from two insurance companies (Norwich Union and Progressive) for several

years. The sophisticated heavy vehicle charging system introduced in Germany in

January 2005 utilises the new Galileo satellite positioning system, supplemented by

roadside beacons using DSRC. This system can be readily adapted to vary charges

with levels of congestion. 90

Trials using GPS tracking systems are currently being conducted in a number of

countries. The European Union commissioned the European Space Agency (ESA) to

evaluate the feasibility of using satellite technology to implement a pan-European

road charging system. The research follows a European Commission proposal,

published in April 2003, recommending that all vehicle owners should pay road tolls

electronically by 2010.

The major obstacle to the use of GPS in the various national and pan-national

congestion charging schemes, for which it is currently being considered, is the

90. As the system currently operates, trucks with a gross mass over 12 tonnes pay according to how far they drive along

the motorways, with rates depending on the emissions classification. Under the scheme, lorries pay between 0.09

and 0.14 per kilometre depending on their emission levels and number of axles.

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