Frequently Asked Questions about Near Field Communication Technology and NFC Tags
- What is NFC? What are NFC Tags?
- Do NFC Tags need power supply?
- How can I write NFC Tags?
- How long do NFC Tags store information?
- What Temperature is needed for NFC Tags to work properly?
- Can NFC Tags be rewritten? How many times?
- Can NFC Tags be blocked, in order to make them NOT rewritable?
- Can NFC Tags be encrypted?
- How can I enable NFC on my phone?
- How much battery consumes the NFC sensor of my phone?
- What is the secure element?
- What are the differences between NFC and RFID?
What is NFC? What are NFC Tags?
NCF stands for Near Field Communication. It is a contactless protocol to trasfer files. NFC Tags are microchips with an antenna, which can contain information and be read easily and quickly by an NFC-enabled mobile phone or tablet.
Do NFC Tags need power supply?
No, NFC Tags do not require power. They are in fact triggered by the magnetic field of the NFC sensor. NFC Tags are, from this point of view, potentially eternal.
How can I write NFC Tags?
The NFC Tag can be programmed with a mobile application or an NFC Readers and Writers for desktop computers. There are apps and software for each operating system.
How long do NFC Tags store information?
Forever. Or at least until they are destroyed or damaged. The information can be rewritten, but also protected or encrypted.
What Temperature is needed for NFC Tags to work properly?
NFC Tags work properly between -20° and 70° Celsius / between -4° and 158° Fahrenheit.
Can NFC Tags be rewritten? How many times?
NFC Tags are rewritable by default. Potentially, the NFC Tag can be rewritten endlessly. They are guaranteed to be rewritten up to 100,000 times (depending on the IC). However, you can also block them, so that they will no longer be rewritten.
Can NFC Tags be blocked, in order to make them NOT rewritable?
Yes, the tags can be blocked. The NFC Tags that are blocked cannot be overwritten. New NTAG21x NFC Tags can be also password-protected, so you can rewrite them only if you know the password.
Can NFC Tags be encrypted?
Only some NFC chips support hardware encryption encoding. Below are the most common chips, with relative cryptography supported.
- MIFARE® DESFire® (DES, 2K3DES, 3K3DES, AES)
- NXP ICODE® DNA (AES 128 bit)
- MIFARE Ultralight® C (3DES)
- NTAG® 4xx DNA (AES-based CMAC)
- MIFARE Classic® (not safe, not recommended)
How can I enable NFC on my phone?
It depends on the model and operating system. In summary:
- Android: Settings > Wireless & Networks > (More) > NFC
- Windows Phone: App list > Settings > Tap to share / Tap to pay > NFC
- BlackBerry: Manage Connections > NFC
How much battery consumes the NFC sensor of my phone?
The consumption of the NFC sensor is almost irrelevant. In addition, it consumes battery only when it is in use, similar to GPS. This feature allows you to leave the NFC sensor enabled, no problems for the consumption of the battery.
What is the secure element?
The secure element is a dynamic environment in which application code and application data can be securely stored and administered and in which secure execution of applications occur. The element resides in highly secure crypto chips. The element provides delimited memory for each application and other functions that can encrypt, decrypt, and sign the data packet.
The secure element could be implemented either by a separate secure smart card chip (currently implemented in most of the NFC-enabled mobile phone pilots), in the SIM/UICC (which is used by GSM mobile phone operators to authenticate subscribers on their networks and maintain personalized subscriber information and applications), or in an SD card that can be inserted in the mobile phone. The secure element implementation approach will be selected by the mobile operator implementing the service and/or by the payment service provider (for SD card implementations).
What are the differences between NFC and RFID?
NFC technology is a special type of RFID technology. RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) identifies the range of technologies that use radio waves for data transmission. Four sub-categories of RFID are identified, based on the respective operating frequency:
- LF (low frequencies): 125 kHz - 134.2 kHz
- HF (high frequencies) or NFC: 13.56 MHz
- UHF (ultra high frequencies): 860 MHz - 960 MHz
- SHF (super high frequencies): 2.45 GHz
The NFC technology is that which operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz and is the only one, among those RFID, to be compatible with mobile phones equipped with NFC. The LF and HF frequencies have a radius of a few centimeters, while the UHF and SHF frequencies have a wider range, up to several meters. If you are looking for UHF RFID Tags or readers, we recommend visiting RFID.it