SmartTAG more advanced, 10,000 times faster than RFID; should have more lanes, not less – Efkon – paultan.org12/29/2021
While the government has stated its intent at having radio frequency identification (RFID) as the new standard for toll collection in the country, Efkon Asia believes that the SmartTag system should not be abandoned, but instead have its deployment increased, as it would reduce congestion at toll plazas and help speed up implementation of the intended multi-lane traffic free flow network in the future.
The Austrian technology provider of the infra-red (IR) toll collection system believes that a five million-strong customer base and continuous product upgrades make the system – which utilises a Touch ‘n Go (TnG) card and SmartTag toll reader unit – an ideal means to help achieve the government’s congestion-free objective.
According to Efkon Asia director Helmuth Blasch, the customer base for the system is growing, pointing out that this year alone, around 75% of the 270,000 new passenger cars and commercial vehicles registered in Peninsular Malaysia until September 2021 were delivered with either a SmartTAG-compatible built-in toll reader or portable device.
“This is a clear indication that the IR system continues to enjoy the confidence of top vehicle manufacturers, retailers and owners and has proven its worth as an efficient, convenient and cost-effective cashless toll collection system,” he said.
“Coupled with continuous product upgrades that has significantly improved the system’s reliability and user experience, it is the ideal and much more advanced staging point to achieve the congestion-free highway objective outlined in the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) Blueprint compared to the fledgling RFID payment system.
“In Germany, the nationwide truck tolling system installed on all highways in a MLFF configuration has proven to be highly effective, catering to more than two million trucks travelling at up to 100 km/h. It uses a similar IR technology, like in Malaysia, to validate payment. We have also successfully replicated this test in Malaysia,” he said.
Blasch said that SmartTAG compatible units, which comply with DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) standards and are ECE R10 certified, operate in the 400THz band and are able to transfer data 10,000 times faster than RFID. “Being battery-powered, every unit is active with a wake-up time of just two milliseconds compared to the passive RFID’s 45 milliseconds,” he explained.
The company said that based on the public response to the recent announcement by the works ministry, most highway users prefer the superior convenience, proven reliability and better user experience of the IR system, which has been in use in the country since 2005.
As such, Blasch said that authorities and highway concessionaires should look at increasing rather than reducing SmartTAG lanes if the objective was to reduce congestion at toll plazas.
He said Efkon has been working closely with the local manufacturers of SmartTAG compatible devices to continuously introduce upgrades. “For consumers, SmartTAG compatible built-in toll readers are directly powered by car batteries, while portable units such as the MaxTAG now come with a powerful and long-lasting rechargeable 1000 mAh battery and USB port for easy charging in the car to ensure availability at all times,” he said.
Blasch said that the company will be moving towards digitalisation sometime in the first quarter of 2022 by enabling Bluetooth connection between its devices and smartphones as well as car media systems. “Connection to an e-wallet for easy top-ups will also be possible,” he added.
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