Band plan

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The radio frequency is traditionally separated in separate "slices" or "bands" of frequencies that have all their own use. By convention, certain bands are reserve to certain uses, most of the time because of the physical properties of the frequency or the environment.

This page aims to provide a quick overview of the broad properties of each band. The Wikipedia article on bands has more extensive documentation about propagation characteristics.

Radio Bands

Those are the bands of the radio spectrum relevant to amateur radio. Although ham radio operators have been very creative at exploring the full range of the radio spectrum, most operations hold in those areas.

  • LF 30 - 300 kHz
  • MF 300 kHz - 3 MHz
  • HF 3 - 30 MHz (aka shortwave)
  • VHF 30 - 300 MHz
  • UHF 300 MHz - 3000 MHz (3 GHz)
  • SHF 3,000 - 30,000 MHz (see also Microwave and other bands)

Band characteristics and usage

Each of those band have particular characteristics. Since the vast majority of operations (if we lump together the 160m band within HF) happens within HF, VHF and UHF, we're going only to look at those here.

HF Bands

There are a number of amateur HF bands used worldwide, although the bands and frequencies legally available vary from country to country. HF is renowned for its capability of long range communication, because of the way sky waves propagate.

HF bands used today include:

Band (wavelength) Purpose
160 metres Night, DX
80 metres Night and local day
60 metres ?
40 metres Night and local day, DX
30 metres CW and digital
20 metres Most popular DX, night and day
17 metres DX, night and day
15 metres Daytime
12 metres Daytime
10 metres Daytime during solar maximum

Note: although 160m is a Medium Frequency/MF band, it is often lumped in with the HF bands for simplicity.

VHF/UHF/Microwave Bands

Related wiki pages:

VHF, UHF, and Microwave bands and frequencies available to amateurs vary more widely from country to country than HF bands do.

Amateur bands used today include:

Most of those bands share similar propagation characteristic: we're usually talking about line of sight (ground wave) communication, although it is often taken up as a challenge for ham operators to go beyond those pesky restrictions with various techniques like Tropospheric ducting, moon bounce and bouncing off meteor scatter and aurora borealis. Certain frequencies (mostly 70cm and 2m) are often used to communicate with space satellites.

Actual allocations

What those band allocation mean in term of frequencies that the ham operators are allowed to work with varies according from region to region. This is regulated by the ITU, or more precisely the IARU, which manages regulations for each of the 3 ITU regions. Countries then make up their own local allocation in accordance (generally) with the region they are in.

Regional Band Plans

Within three regions around the world, different "plans" are agreed upon by Amateur Radio Operators to divide up the authorized band into sections. Each section is targeted to a specific operating mode (e.g., SSB, FM, Digital, etc). The ITU separated the world in 3 separate regions:

  • Region 1 encompasses Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe, and Asiatic Russia
  • Region 2 encompasses North America, South America, and Greenland
  • Region 3 encompasses India, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and Pacific nations.

See also the IARU website for details of those allocations.

Country Band Plans

Each country has its own conventions that are an application of the general band plans.

See also

External links

HF and MF 160 metres * 80 metres* 60 metres * 40 metres * 30 metres * 20 metres * 17 metres * 15 metres * 12 metres * 10 metres
VHF 6 metres * 4 metres * 2 metres * 1.25 metres
UHF 70 centimetres * 33 centimetres * 23 centimetres * 13 centimetres
Microwave 9 centimetres * 6 centimetres * 3 centimetres * 1.25 centimetres * Bands above 24GHz
See also US bandplan