Plans by Tesco to roll out the UK's largest radio frequency identification project are being held up by red tape surrounding ultra high-frequency tag technology.
The supermarket chain plans to equip 4,000 sites across the UK with RFID tags. When completed, the system will be one of the most advanced RFID deployments in the world.
Tesco is using RFID readers from ADT and middleware from Oat systems. The UHF technology is based on the EN302208 specification from the European Telecoms Standards Institute.
Simon Palinkas, Tesco programme manager responsible for the roll-out, said, "The performance of RFID is not what I want it to be due to regulations."
He said EU regulations regarding the use of the 865MHz to 868MHz radio spectrum have affected the project. "EN302208 is a difficult standard. It is difficult to get kit and you require a site licence," he said.
The potentially huge cost of obtaining licences from Ofcom is holding back deployment of the technology, Palinkas said.
He believes EN302 208 is an inferior standard to its US equivalent. "There are problems getting 70 to 100 readers working at the same time," he said.
A spokesman for Ofcom said the regulator was aware of the potential benefits of RFID and "was minded to exempt the use of this equipment from licensing".
But to do so Ofcom must first hold a consultation, which is not likely to begin before the end of the year.