The Spectrum of Radio Frequencies

The spectrum of radio frequencies (RF) is divided into twelve bands. Each band is made up of a range of frequencies and wavelength ranges. The full spectrum runs from 3 hertz (Hz) to 3,000 gigahertz (GHz). The name and range of each band is set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Each band also has a set of designated usages. This helps prevent interference between transmissions and ensures that receivers and transmitters on each band are compatible with each other. When you’re building a device designed to work on any of these bands, you’ll want to consider using a quadrature hybrid coupler to prevent signal interference and degradation. Below is a list of what each frequency along the spectrum is used for.

3-3,000 Hz

This range covers three bands: extremely low frequency, super low frequency, and ultra low frequency. These bands are most often used for submarine communication. Ultra low frequency can also be used for communications within mines. You’ll find very little else down here at this end.

3-3,000 kHz

Moving up the spectrum, the next three bands are very low frequency, low frequency, and medium frequency. On these bands, you’ll find navigation, time signals, AM radio (specifically longwave broadcasting in Europe and parts of Asia, and medium-wave broadcasts), and amateur radio broadcasts. You’ll also find health and rescue technology, such as wireless heart rate monitors and avalanche beacons.

3-3,000 mHz

These frequencies cover high frequency, very high frequency, and ultra high frequency. You’ll find amateur and professional FM radio, television broadcasts, aircraft communications (both aircraft-to-ground and aircraft-to-aircraft), and weather radios on this band. RFID technology utilizes the high frequency band, while your cellphone uses the very high frequency band. The ultra high frequency band also has microwaves, Bluetooth, and GPS systems.

3-3,000 GHz

Finally, the last three bands are super high frequency, extremely high frequency, and tremendously high frequency. You’ll find wireless LAN, radar, satellites, and radio astronomy on these bands. Some amateur radio and all satellite radio can be found on the super high frequency. Tremendously high frequency is also used for work into medical and scientific advances, such as x-ray replacement technology or radio frequency spectroscopy. 

Whenever you are using RF, make sure your device is on the correct band for its intended use. This will not only ensure that your devices functions as intended, but it can also keep you in compliance with the law.