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Radio spectrum

The radio spectrum is the part of the electromagnetic 1.1 ITU

spectrum from 8.3 kHz to 3000 GHz allocated to some 40
Radiocommunication services in line to the Radio Reg- The ITU radio bands are designations dened in the ITU
ulations (RR) of the International Telecommunications Radio Regulations. Article 2, provision No. 2.1 states
Union (ITU).[1] The transmission, emission and/or recep- that the radio spectrum shall be subdivided into nine fre-
tion of radio waves for specic telecommunication pur- quency bands, which shall be designated by progressive
poses of radio waves is strictly regulated by the national whole numbers in accordance with the following table[4] ".
The table originated with a recommendation of the IVth
Dierent parts of the radio spectrum are allocated for dif- CCIR meeting, held in Bucharest in 1937, and was ap-
ferent radio transmission technologies and applications. proved by the International Radio Conference held at At-
In some cases, parts of the radio spectrum is sold or li- lantic City in 1947. The idea to give each band a number,
censed to operators of private radio transmission services in which the number is the logarithm of the approximate
(for example, cellular telephone operators or broadcast geometric mean of the upper and lower band limits in Hz,
television stations). Ranges of allocated frequencies are originated with B.C. Fleming-Williams, who suggested it
often referred to by their provisioned use (for example, in a letter to the editor of Wireless Engineer in 1942. (For
cellular spectrum or television spectrum).[3] example, the approximate geometric mean of Band 7 is
10 MHz, or 107 Hz.)[5]
This column does not form part of the table in Provision No.
2.1 of the Radio Regulations

1 By frequency 1.2 Comparison of radio band designation

A band is a small section of the spectrum of radio com-
munication frequencies, in which channels are usually 2 By application
used or set aside for the same purpose.
Above 300 GHz, the absorption of electromagnetic radia- 2.1 Broadcasting
tion by Earths atmosphere is so great that the atmosphere
is eectively opaque, until it becomes transparent again Broadcast frequencies:
in the near-infrared and optical window frequency ranges.
To prevent interference and allow for ecient use of the Longwave AM Radio = 148.5 kHz 283.5 kHz
radio spectrum, similar services are allocated in bands. (LF)
For example, broadcasting, mobile radio, or navigation
devices, will be allocated in non-overlapping ranges of Mediumwave AM Radio = 530 kHz 1710 kHz
frequencies. (MF)

Each of these bands has a basic bandplan which Shortwave AM Radio = 3 MHz 30 MHz (HF)
dictates how it is to be used and shared, to avoid
interference and to set protocol for the compatibility Designations for television and FM radio broadcast fre-
of transmitters and receivers. See detail of quencies vary between countries, see Television channel
bands: frequencies and FM broadcast band. Since VHF and
Use_Summary_Master-06212010.pdf UHF frequencies are desirable for many uses in urban
As a matter of convention, bands are divided at areas, in North America some parts of the former tele-
wavelengths of 10n metres, or frequencies of 310n hertz. vision broadcasting band have been reassigned to cellular
For example, 30 MHz or 10 m divides shortwave (lower phone and various land mobile communications systems.
and longer) from VHF (shorter and higher). These are Even within the allocation still dedicated to television,
the parts of the radio spectrum, and not its frequency al- TV-band devices use channels without local broadcast-
location. ers.


The Apex band in the United States was a pre-WWII allo- 2.6 Industrial, scientic, medical
cation for VHF audio broadcasting; it was made obsolete
after the introduction of FM broadcasting. The ISM bands were initially reserved for non-
communications uses of RF energy, such as microwave
ovens, radio-frequency heating, and similar purposes.
2.2 Air band However, in recent years the largest use of these bands
has been by short-range low-power communications sys-
tems, since users do not have to hold a radio operators li-
Airband refers to VHF frequencies 118 to 137 MHz, used
cense. Cordless telephones, wireless computer networks,
for navigation and voice communication with aircraft.
Bluetooth devices, and garage door openers all use the
Trans-oceanic aircraft also carry HF radio and satellite
ISM bands. ISM devices do not have regulatory protec-
tion against interference from other users of the band.

2.3 Marine band 2.7 Land mobile bands

The greatest incentive for development of radio was the Bands of frequencies, especially in the VHF and UHF
need to communicate with ships out of visual range of parts of the spectrum, are allocated for communication
shore. From the very early days of radio, large oceango- between xed base stations and land mobile vehicle-
ing vessels carried powerful long-wave and medium-wave mounted or portable transceivers. In the United States
transmitters. High-frequency allocations are still desig- these services are informally known as business band ra-
nated for ships, although satellite systems have taken over dio. See also Professional mobile radio.
some of the safety applications previously served by 500
Police radio and other public safety services such as re
kHz and other frequencies. 2182 kHz is a medium-wave
departments and ambulances are generally found in the
frequency still used for marine emergency communica-
VHF and UHF parts of the spectrum. Trunking systems
are often used to make most ecient use of the limited
Marine VHF radio is used in coastal waters and relatively number of frequencies available.
short-range communication between vessels and to shore
The demand for mobile telephone service has led to large
stations. Radios are channelized, with dierent channels
blocks of radio spectrum allocated to cellular frequencies.
used for dierent purposes; marine Channel 16 is used
for calling and emergencies.
2.8 Radio control
2.4 Amateur radio frequencies Reliable radio control uses bands dedicated to the
purpose. Radio-controlled toys may use portions of
Amateur radio frequency allocations vary around the unlicensed spectrum in the 27 MHz or 49 MHz bands,
world. Several bands are common for amateurs world- but more costly aircraft, boat, or land vehicle models use
wide, usually in the shortwave part of the spectrum. dedicated radio control frequencies near 72 MHz to avoid
Other bands are national or regional allocations only due interference by unlicensed uses. Licensed amateur ra-
to diering allocations for other services, especially in the dio operators use portions of the 6-meter band in North
VHF and UHF parts of the radio spectrum. America. Industrial remote control of cranes or railway
locomotives use assigned frequencies that vary by area.

2.5 Citizens band and personal radio ser-

2.9 Radar
Radar applications use relatively high power pulse trans-
Citizens band radio is allocated in many countries, using mitters and sensitive receivers, so radar is operated on
channelized radios in the upper HF part of the spectrum bands not used for other purposes. Most radar bands are
(around 27 MHz). It is used for personal, small busi- in the microwave part of the spectrum, although certain
ness and hobby purposes. Other frequency allocations are important applications for meteorology make use of pow-
used for similar services in dierent jurisdictions, for ex- erful transmitters in the UHF band.
ample UHF CB is allocated in Australia. A wide range
of personal radio services exist around the world, usu-
ally emphasizing short-range communication between in-
dividuals or for small businesses, simplied or no license 3 See also
requirements, and usually FM transceivers using around
1 watt or less. Bandplan

Bandstacked 5 References
Cellular frequencies
ITU-R Recommendation V.431: Nomenclature
DXing of the frequency and wavelength bands used in
telecommunications. International Telecommuni-
Frequency allocation cation Union, Geneva.
Geneva Frequency Plan of 1975 IEEE Standard 521-2002: Standard Letter Designa-
tions for Radar-Frequency Bands
North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement
Open spectrum AFR 55-44/AR 105-86/OPNAVINST
3430.9A/MCO 3430.1, 27 October 1964 su-
Radio astronomy perseded by AFR 55-44/AR 105-86/OPNAVINST
3430.1A/MCO 3430.1A, 6 December 1978: Per-
Radio communication system forming Electronic Countermeasures in the United
Scanner (radio) States and Canada, Attachment 1,ECM Frequency
Two-way radio
6 External links
U-NII A reference to radio spec-
WARC bands trum allocations.
Radio spectrum: a vital resource in a wireless
4 Notes world European Commission policy.

[1] International Telecommunications Unions Radio Regula-

tions, Edition of 2012.

[2] ITU Radio Regulations Article 1, Denitions of Radio

Services, Article 1.2 Administration: Any governmental
department or service responsible for discharging the obli-
gations undertaken in the Constitution of the International
Telecommunication Union, in the Convention of the In-
ternational Telecommunication Union and in the Admin-
istrative Regulations (CS 1002).

[3] Colin Robinson (2003). Competition and regulation in util-

ity markets. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 978-

[4] ITU Radio Regulations, Volume 1, Article 2; Edition of

2008. Available online at

[5] Booth, C.F. (1949). Nomenclature of Frequencies. The

Post Oce Electrical Engineers Journal 42 (1): 4748.

[6] IEEE Std 521-2002 Standard Letter Designations for

Radar-Frequency Bands.

[7] Table 2 in [6]

[8] Norman Friedman (2006). The Naval Institute Guide to

World Naval Weapon Systems. Naval Institute Press. pp.
xiii. ISBN 978-1-55750-262-9.

[9] Leonid A. Belov; Sergey M. Smolskiy; Victor N.

Kochemasov (2012). Handbook of RF, Microwave, and
Millimeter-Wave Components. Artech House. pp. 2728.
ISBN 978-1-60807-209-5.

[10] Waveguide frequency bands

and interior dimensions

7 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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Radio spectrum Source: Contributors: Mulad, Treutwein, DavidCary,
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