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Frequency Bands & Applications

August 2020

The textbook definition of a frequency band is an interval in the frequency domain, delimited by a lower frequency and upper frequency. The International Telecommunication Union has assigned designations to these intervals.

Beginning with the lowest and ending with the highest, we will enumerate the ITU-designated frequency bands and provide examples of their corresponding applications. 

Firstly, the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) band is ideal for underwater communication. Transmitters in the 22 Hz range of this band are useful in pigging, also known as pipeline transportation. The Super Low Frequency (SLF) band is also suitable for submarine communication.

The waves within Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) band are able to penetrate through dirt and rock. Through-the-earth signal transmission is especially useful in secure communications, making it suitable for military applications. TTE is also used in mining. Similarly, the Very Low Frequency (VLF) band can also penetrate dirt and rock for some distance. Thus, geophysicists use VLF-electromagnetic receivers to measure conductivity in the near surface of the earth. VLF frequencies benefit from their long range and stable phase characteristics, allowing them to be quite versatile. Like ELF and SLF, VLF can also penetrate seawater to some extent; the military can use VLF to communicate with submarines near the surface of the water. Historically, VLF has been used for navigation beacons.

Frequency Band | JEM Engineering

The Low Frequency (LF) band is mostly used for AM broadcasting in Europe as well as in areas of Northern Africa and Asia. Similar to VLF, LF can also be used for navigational radio beacons. It can also be used for maritime ship-to-shore communication, as well as transoceanic air traffic control. Like the LF band, the Medium Frequency (MF) band is also mostly used for AM radio broadcasting.

The High Frequency (HF) band is most useful in shortwave radio applications, as well as aviation air-to-ground communications. Dipole antennas, such as the Yagi, quad, and log-periodic antennas, operate within the higher frequencies of the HF band. Because its wavelengths range from one to ten decametres (10 to 100 meters), the HF band is also known as the decametre band

The Very High Frequency (VHF) band is suitable for similar applications as the HF band. Additionally, whereas AM radio operates within the LF and MF bands, FM radio operates within the VHF band

The Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band is perhaps most closely integrated into modern civilian life. In addition to military applications, the UHF band is used in satellite television, mobile phones, Wi-Fi, walkie-talkies, and GPS.
Falling within the microwave band, the Super High Frequency (SHF) band is also optimized for wireless communications. Because the relatively smaller wavelengths of microwaves allow them to be directed in narrow beams, the SHF band is optimal for point-to-point communication using parabolic dishes and horn antennas, for example. Patch antennas typically operate within the SHF band as well. Aside from microwave heating, the SHF band is optimal for satellite links and radar transmitters. The SHF band is also known as the centimetre band because its wavelengths range from one to ten centimeres.
Lastly, the Extremely High Frequency (EHF) band is the highest band on our list. It is also known as the millimetre band, because its wavelengths measure between one to ten millimetres. Because its radio waves are able to be absorbed by the gases in the atmosphere, they only have a short range and can only be used for terrestrial communication over about a kilometer. While certain frequency ranges near the bottom of the band are currently used in 5G cellphone networks, the EHF band is most commonly used in astronomy and remote sensing.

Acronym

Extremely Low Frequency

ELF

Super Low Frequency

SLF

Ultra Low Frequency

ULF

Very Low Frequency

VLF

Low Frequency

LF

Medium Frequency

MF

High Frequency

HF

Very High Frequency

VHF

Ultra High Frequency

UHF

Super High Frequency

SHF

Extremely High Frequency

EHF

Frequency Range

Extremely Low Frequency

3 to 30 Hz

Super Low Frequency

30 to 300 Hz

Ultra Low Frequency

300 to 3000 Hz

Very Low Frequency

3 to 30 kHz

Low Frequency

30 to 300 kHz

Medium Frequency

300 to 3000 kHz

High Frequency

3 to 30 MHz

Very High Frequency

30 to 300 MHz

Ultra High Frequency

300 to 3000 MHz

Super High Frequency

3 to 30 GHz

Extremely High Frequency

30 to 300 GHz

Wavelength (Meters)

Extremely Low Frequency

10,000 to 100,000 km

Super Low Frequency

1,000 to 10,000 km

Ultra Low Frequency

100 to 1,000 km

Very Low Frequency

10 to 100 km

Low Frequency

1 to 10 km

Medium Frequency

100 to 1,000 m

High Frequency

10 to 100 m

Very High Frequency

1 to 10 m

Ultra High Frequency

10 to 100 cm

Super High Frequency

1 to 10 cm

Extremely High Frequency

1 to 10 mm

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