When will ZigBee RF4CE land in Europe?

-May 27, 2015

ZigBee RF4CE explained


ZigBee RF4CE (Radio Frequency 4 Consumer Electronics) is the popular wireless communication protocol that enables interoperability between remote controls and a variety of TVs, set-top boxes, gateways and other home networking and entertainment systems from different manufacturers. ZigBee RF4CE standardizes the communications protocol and establishes a pathway for Cable Operators and other MSO’s (Multiple Service Operators) to provide new Smart Home subscription services to the consumer. In the US, most remote controls and set-top boxes have already adopted RF4CE as their primary communication protocol.

It will be just a matter of time until ZigBee RF4CE becomes the standard of choice worldwide in the Europe, Asia, the Americas and other parts of the world as well.

The only question is when?

In this white paper, we are discussing some of the technical aspects of RF4CE, why cable companies and operators are quickly adding RF4CE to their remote controls, and why RF4CE is a better choice for remote controls than Bluetooth.

Why has RF4CE become very successful in the US?


After several years of use by US cable companies and internet service providers, the advantages of ZigBee RF4CE are eminently clear.

Operators are quick to praise the reliability and the interactivity of RF in comparison with infrared (IR). “IR is the last technology around in the home dating from the previous century”.

Maybe the biggest technical difference between RF and IR is the fact that RF enables two-way, non line-of-sight communication, where IR is only one-way (from the remote control to the set-top box or TV, but not in the other direction), and IR requires point-and-shoot.

No more point and shoot


As the RF4CE remote does not have to be aimed at the device like IR, pointing the remote at the device is no longer required. This means that the set-top box or home gateway can be hidden behind the television or in a closed cabinet.

Excellent range


The RF reliability is important. Like its sister technology WiFi, RF4CE can cover an entire home so the set-top box does not need be in line of sight of the remote control. It does not even have to be in the same room as the TV, entertainment center, or other controlled devices.

Ultra low power requirement


By using RF4CE, which requires very little power to operate, battery life is significantly improved and can even exceed the life of the remote control. Longer battery life is an important feature for the operators because many customer service calls are generated just because of dead batteries in the remote.   Reducing service calls for problems like these can significantly reduce the operator’s costs and maximizing profits. Long battery life is an important reliability feature for the operators.

Hybrid solution


RF4CE can also function in a hybrid model – supporting both tomorrow’s RF connected devices as well as legacy IR devices. Many TV makers are shipping dual operation remote controls that support both technologies.


The benefits of RF4CE remote controls are now obvious – how have we been able to zap without it…


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