Why Choose 26 Bit Proximity Cards for Your Access Control System

Why Choose 26 Bit Proximity Cards for Your Access Control System

by Mike Boehm on September 19, 2022

You might not be familiar with the term “proximity card”, but you almost certainly have encountered one. They are those small cards that people wave to access buildings, hotel rooms, offices, and other spaces.


A 26 bit proximity card (aka H10301 format) is the most popular proximity card in the industry. It uses radio-frequency identification to let users access certain areas or systems. These cards are a convenient way to grant people access while keeping your facility secure. Having the right information about 26 bit proximity cards can help you decide if they’re the right choice for your organization. This article covers everything you ever wanted to know about this piece of technology.


What is the 26 Bit H10301 Format?

A 26 bit proximity card is the standard format for proximity cards in the business world. They are also known as the H10301 format. As a customer, you can order 26 bit proximity cards in this open format from any retailer that sells this technology. The fact that it’s open format means that anyone can purchase proximity cards in a given format, and the format definition is published.


How Does a Proximity Card Work?

A proximity card can be read without being inserted into a reader. You don’t even need to take them out of your wallet to use them. Proximity cards communicate to door access readers at 125 kHz. When you swipe the card, the access control panel checks if the number matches one in the internal database. Upon approval, the door will unlock.


Proximity cards function thanks to an antenna and an electrical read-only microchip. The card can talk to an external antenna via the microchip. The chip is an integrated circuit that is embedded in a small piece of semiconducting material, often silicon. Its sole purpose is to transmit the card's identification number and/or site facility code number to the proximity card reader for further verification.


The Nitty Gritty of a 26 Bit Proximity Card 

To fully understand how proximity cards work, let’s take a look at them and the types of information they hold:


  • Parity Bits: Parity bits are typically seen at the beginning and/or end of a card number. They add another level of protection by facilitating the speedy validation of binary data's accuracy. They are used in proximity card technology to ensure the data adds up to an even or an odd number.
  • The Facility Code: The facility code is a number specific to the building or facility that the security system is protecting. It is pre-programmed on each card in the series and ensures that only the cards from your company can enter.
  • The Serial or Card Number: This is exactly what it sounds like. This number represents a cardholder's unique identification number within the system. The system administrator can control user privileges by allowing or disallowing access to particular serial numbers within the system. 65,535 is the maximum number of serial numbers that can be encoded in a standard 26 bit format.


There are 2 parity bits, 8 Facility Code bits, and 16 Cardholder ID bits in the 26 bit H10301 format.


Why the 26 Bit H10301 Format is King

Several different proprietary formats and proximity card systems are available, from 26 bits to 40 bits. Perhaps you've just started thinking about implementing a card system for an added layer of security to your building. If that's the case, you should consider the disadvantages of being tied to a reader manufacturer's proprietary bit format.


You will have more card supplier options if you choose a 26 bit option. Also, the 26 bit format's widespread adoption means it could be compatible with your existing access control infrastructure if you want to make the switch.


Numerous forms of 26 bit proximity cards, key fobs, and micro proximity tags are available from companies that produce this technology. Your door access control readers should be compatible with any of these formats. It’s worth mentioning that customization options for proximity cards surpass those of key fobs. Cards can double as photo ID badges, have point-of-sale strips, and be used with barcode scanners by just simply adding a barcode to the card.


In addition to being low-priced and simple to implement, 26 bit proximity cards are also secure. Your card, key fob, or tag won't work in the access control system until you've programmed the facility code and a starting number.


The Advantage of Facility Codes With 26 Bit Proximity Cards

The facility code was mentioned earlier in the article, but let’s dive into exactly how the facility code works. Consider the facility code as an additional layer of protection in addition to the 5-digit card number.


Facility codes can be programmed from 0 to 255 into a typical 26 bit proximity key. The access control system in your building will recognize only the facility code you choose. Even if the 5-digit card number is a match, entry will be refused to any building that does not match a list of allowed building codes in your system. Installing and using facility codes is an excellent way to increase safety at building entrances.


Availability Of 26 Bit H10301 Cards

The final great thing about 26 bit proximity cards this article will cover is the widespread availability of 26 bit H10301 cards. Unlike proprietary cards, you can buy them from any supplier, making them convenient and cost-effective.


At Authoriz ID, you can buy proximity cards in many different formats, from clamshell cards to printable cards to a variety of key fobs. If you are concerned about compatibility, feel free to contact our support staff to find out if our cards and key fobs are compatible with your Card Access System.


Conclusion: You Can’t Go Wrong With a 26 Bit Proximity Card

Consider the 26 bit proximity card format when shopping for a new access control system for your building. Understanding how the system functions makes it simple to keep your business secure from outsiders. Implementing high-tech security solutions in your company has never been easier or more cost-effective.