Amateur radio frequency allocation is done by national telecommunication authorities. Globally, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) oversees how much radio spectrum is set aside for amateur radio transmissions. Individual amateur stations are free to use any frequency within authorized frequency ranges; authorized bands may vary by the class of the station license.

Radio amateurs use a variety of transmission modes, including Morse code, radioteletype, data, and voice. Specific frequency allocations vary from country to country and between ITU regions as specified in the current ITU HF frequency allocations for amateur radio.[1] The list of frequency ranges is called a band allocation, which may be set by international agreements, and national regulations. The modes and types of allocations within each frequency band is called a bandplan; it may be determined by regulation, but most typically is set by agreements between amateur radio operators.

National authorities regulate amateur usage of radio bands. Some bands may not be available or may have restrictions on usage in certain countries or regions. International agreements assign amateur radio bands which differ by region.[2][3]

Band characteristics

Low frequency

See also: Low frequency

Medium frequency

See also: Medium frequency

High frequency

See also: High frequency

Very-high frequencies and ultra-high frequencies

Frequencies above 30 MHz are referred to as Very High Frequency (VHF) region and those above 300 MHz are called Ultra High Frequency (UHF). The allocated bands for amateurs are many megahertz wide, allowing for high-fidelity audio transmission modes (FM) and very fast data transmission modes that are unfeasible for the kilohertz-wide allocations in the HF bands.

While "line of sight" propagation is a primary factor for range calculation, much of the interest in the bands above HF comes from use of other propagation modes. A signal transmitted on VHF from a hand-held portable will typically travel about 5–10 km (3 to 6 miles) depending on terrain. With a low power home station and a simple antenna, range would be around 50 km (30 miles).

With a large antenna system like a long yagi, and higher power (typically 100 watts or more) contacts of around 1000 km (600 miles) using the Morse code (CW) and single-sideband (SSB) modes are common. Ham operators seek to exploit the limits of the frequencies usual characteristics looking to learn, understand, and experiment with the possibilities of these enhanced propagation modes.

Sporadic band openings

Occasionally, several different ionospheric conditions allow signals to travel beyond the ordinary line-of-sight limits. Some amateurs on VHF seek to take advantage of "band openings" where natural occurrences in the atmosphere and ionosphere extend radio transmission distances well over their normal range. Many hams listen for hours hoping to take advantage of these occasional extended propagation "openings".

The ionospheric conditions are called Sporadic E and Anomalous enhancement. Less frequently used anomalous modes are tropospheric scatter and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). When overhead, moon bounce and satellite relay are also possible.

Sporadic E

Some openings are caused by islands of intense ionization of the upper atmosphere known as the E Layer ionosphere. These islands of intense ionization are called "Sporadic E" and result in erratic but often strong propagation characteristics on the "low band" VHF radio frequencies.

The 6 metre amateur band falls into this category, often called "The Magic Band", 6 metres will often "open up" from one small area into another small geographic area 1000–1700 km (600 to 1000 miles) away during the spring and early summer months. This phenomenon occurs during the fall months, although not as often.

Tropospheric refraction

Band openings are sometimes caused by a weather phenomenon known as a tropospheric "inversion", where a stagnant high pressure area causes alternating stratified layers of warm and cold air generally trapping the colder air beneath. This may make for smoggy/foggy days but it also causes VHF/UHF radio transmissions to travel or duct along the boundaries of these warm/cold atmospheric layers. Radio signals have been known to travel hundreds, even thousands of kilometres (miles) due to these unique weather conditions.

For example: The longest distance reported contact due to tropospheric refraction on 2 metres is 4754 km (2954 miles) between Hawaii and a ship south of Mexico. There were reports of the reception of one way signals from Réunion to Western Australia, a distance of more than 6000 km (4000 miles).[4]

Tropo-scatter happens when water droplets and dust particles refract a VHF/UHF signal over the horizon. Using relatively high power and a high gain antenna, this propagation will give marginal enhanced over-the-horizon VHF and UHF communications up to several hundred kilometres (miles). During the 1970s commercial "scatter site" operators using huge parabolic antennas and high power used this mode successfully for telephone communications services into remote Alaska and Canadian northern communities.

Satellite, buried fibre optic, and terrestrial microwave access have relegated commercial use of tropo-scatter to the history books. Because of high cost and complexity this mode is usually out of reach for the average amateur radio operator.

Anomalous trans-equatorial enhancement

F2 and TE band openings from other ionospheric reflection/refraction modes, or sky-wave propagation as it is known can also occasionally occur on the low band VHF frequencies of 6 or 4 metres, and very rarely on 2 metres (high band VHF) during extreme peaks in the 11 year sunspot cycle.

The longest terrestrial contact ever reported on 2 metres (146 MHz) was between a station in Italy and a station in South Africa, a distance of 7784 km (4837 miles), using anomalous enhancement (TE) of the ionosphere over the geomagnetic equator. This enhancement is known as TE, or trans-equatorial propagation and (usually) occurs at latitudes 2500–3000 km (1500 to 1900 miles) within either side of the equator.[5]

Auroral backscatter

An intense solar storm causing aurora borealis (northern lights) will also provide occasional propagation enhancement to HF-low (6-metre) band radio waves. Aurorae only occasionally affect signals on the 2-metre band. Signals are often distorted and on the lower frequencies give a curious "watery sound" to normally propagated HF signals. Peak signals usually come from the north, even if the signal originates from a station to the east or west of the receiver. This effect is most significant in the northern latitudes above 45 degrees.

Moon bounce (Earth-Moon-Earth)

Amateurs do successfully communicate by bouncing their signals off the surface of the moon, called Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) transmission.

The mode requires moderately high power (more than 500 watts) and a fairly large, high-gain antenna because round-trip path loss is on the order of 270 dB for 70 cm signals. Return signals are weak and distorted because of the relative velocities of the transmitting station, moon and the receiving station. The moon's surface is also very rocky and irregular.

Because of the weak, distorted return signals, Moon bounce communications use digital modes. For example, old-fashioned Morse code or modern JT65, designed for working with weak signals.

Satellite relay

Satellite relay is not really a propagation mode, but rather an active repeater system. Satellites have been highly successful in providing VHF/UHF/SHF users "propagation" beyond the horizon.

Amateurs have sponsored the launch of dozens of communications satellites since the 1970s. These satellites are usually known as OSCARs (Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio). Also, the ISS has amateur radio repeaters and radio location services on board.

Amateur television

Main article: Amateur television

Amateur television (ATV) is the hobby of transmitting broadcast-compatible video and audio by amateur radio. It also includes the study and building of such transmitters and receivers and the propagation between these two.

In NTSC countries, ATV operation requires the ability to use a 6 MHz wide channel. All bands at VHF or lower are less than 6 MHz wide, so ATV operation is confined to UHF and up. Bandwidth requirements will vary from this for PAL and SECAM transmissions.

ATV operation in the 70 cm band is particularly popular, because the signals can be received on any cable-ready television. Operation in the 33 cm and 23 cm bands is easily augmented by the availability of various varieties of consumer-grade wireless video devices that exist and operate in unlicensed frequencies coincident to these bands.

Repeater ATV operation requires specially-equipped repeaters.

See also: slow-scan television

Below the MW broadcast band

See also: 630-metre band, 2200-metre band, and 2200-meter band

Historically, amateur stations have rarely been allowed to operate on frequencies lower than the medium-wave broadcast band, but in recent times, as the historic users of these low frequencies have been vacating the spectrum, limited space has opened up to allow for new amateur radio allocations and special experimental operations.

Since parts of the 500 kHz band are no longer used for regular maritime communications[citation needed], some countries permit amateur radio radiotelegraph operations in that band. Many countries, however, continue to restrict these frequencies which were historically reserved for maritime and aviation distress calls.[6]

The 2200 metre band is available for use in several countries, and the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07) made it a worldwide amateur allocation. Before the introduction of the 2200 metre band in the UK in 1998, operation on the even lower frequency of 73 kHz had been allowed between 1996 and 2003.

ITU Region 1

ITU Region 1 corresponds to Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East. For ITU region 1, Radio Society of Great Britain's band plan will be more definitive (click on the buttons at the bottom of the page).

Table of amateur MF and HF bandplans

The following charts show the voluntary bandplans used by amateurs in ITU Region 1. Unlike the US, slots for the various transmission modes are not set by the amateur's license but most users do follow these guidelines.

160 metres

See also: 160-metre

160 metres 1810 – 1838 1838 – 1840 1840 – 1843 1843 – 2000
IARU Region 1

80 metres

See also: 80-metre band

80 metres 3500 – 3570 3570 – 3600 3600 – 3620 3620 – 3800
IARU Region 1

60 metres

See also: 60-metre band

60 metres 5258.5 – 5264 5276 – 5284 5288 – 5292 5298 – 5307 5313 – 5323 5333 – 5338 5351.5 – 5366.5, UK 5354 – 5358 5362 – 5374.5 5378 – 5382 5395 – 5401.5 5403.5 – 5406.5
IARU R1 (WRC-15) & UK WRC-15 alloc.
Also additional channels allocated to WRC-15 Band (or channel) for Bahrain*, North Macedonia,[7] Portugal, Republic of Ireland and Israel.
60 metres 5250 – 5450
Bulgaria, Denmark
5370 – 5450 Estonia, 5260 – 5410 Norway, 5275 – 5450 Kenya, 5060 – 5450 Somalia.

40 metres

40 metres 7000 – 7040 7040 – 7050 7050 – 7060 7060 – 7100 7100 – 7200
IARU Region 1
Note: 7000 – 7300 Somalia

30 metres

30 metres 10100 – 10130 10130 – 10150
IARU Region 1

20 metres

20 metres 14000 – 14070 14070 – 14099 B 14101 – 14350
IARU Region 1

17 metres

17 metres 18068 – 18095 18095 – 18109 B 18111 – 18168
IARU Region 1

15 metres

15 metres 21000 – 21070 21070 – 21110 21110 – 21120 21120 – 21149 B 21151 – 21450
IARU Region 1

12 metres

12 metres 24890 – 24915 24915 – 24929 B 24931 – 24990
IARU Region 1

10 metres

10 metres 28000 – 28070 28070 – 28190 B 28225 – 29200 29200 – 29300 29300 – 29510 29510 – 29700
IARU Region 1


  CW and data ( ≤ 200 Hz bandwidth).
  CW, RTTY and data ( ≤ 500 Hz bandwidth).
  CW, RTTY, data, NO SSB ( ≤ 2.7 kHz).
  CW, phone and image ( ≤ 3 kHz bandwidth) SECONDARY.
  CW, phone and image ( ≤ 3 kHz bandwidth).
  CW, data, packet, FM, phone and image ( ≤ 20 kHz bandwidth).
  CW, RTTY, data, test, phone and image.
  Reserved for satellite links.
  Reserved for beacons.

ITU Region 2

ITU Region 2 consists of the Americas, including Greenland.

The frequency allocations for hams in ITU Region 2 are:

ITU band Band name Frequencies (kHz/MHz/GHz)
Lower end Upper end
5, LF (kHz) 2200 metres 135.7 kHz 137.8 kHz
1750 metres Power restricted, but no license required in
unallocated 160–190 kHz broadcast band.
6, MF (kHz) 630 metres 472 kHz 479 kHz
160 metres 1800 2000
7, HF (MHz) 80 metres 3.5 MHz 4.0 MHz
60 metres Channelized: 5.332, 5.348, 5.358.5, 5.373, 5.405
or 5.351.5–5.366.5 or 5.250–5.450
40 metres 7.0 7.3
30 metres 10.1 10.15
20 metres 14.00 14.35
17 metres 18.068 18.168
15 metres 21 21.45
12 metres 24.89 24.99
10 metres 28.0 29.7
8, VHF (MHz) 6 metres 50 MHz 54 MHz
2 metres 144 148
1.25 metres 219 220
222 225
9, UHF 70 centimetres 420 MHz 450 MHz
33 centimetres 902 928
23 centimetres 1240 1300
13 centimetres 2300 2310
2390 2450
10, SHF (GHz) 9 centimetres 3.3 GHz 3.5 GHz
5 centimetres 5.650 5.925
3 centimetres 10.0 10.5
1.2 centimetres 24.00 24.25
11, EHF 6 millimetres 47.0 47.2
4 millimetres 75.5 81.0
2.5 millimetres 122.5 123.0
2 millimetres 134 141
1 millimetre 241 250

Special note on the channelled 60 metre band

(ARRL 60-Meter Operations [1]

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the primary user of the 60 metre band. Effective 5 March 2012 the FCC has permitted CW, USB, and certain digital modes on these frequencies by amateurs on a secondary basis.

The FCC Report and Order permits the use of digital modes that comply with emission designator 60H0J2B, which includes PSK31 as well as any RTTY signal with a bandwidth of less than 60 Hz. The Report and Order also allows the use of modes that comply with emission designator 2K80J2D, which includes any digital mode with a bandwidth of 2.8 kHz or less whose technical characteristics have been documented publicly, per Part 97.309(4) of the FCC Rules. Such modes would include PACTOR I, II or III, 300-baud packet, MFSK, MT63, Contestia, Olivia, DominoEX and others.

On 60-metre hams are restricted to only one signal per channel and automatic operation is not permitted. In addition, the FCC continues to require that all digital transmissions be centred on the channel-centre frequencies, which the Report and Order defines as being 1.5 kHz above the suppressed carrier frequency of a transceiver operated in the Upper Sideband (USB) mode. As amateur radio equipment displays the carrier frequency, it is important for operators to understand correct frequency calculations for digital "sound-card" modes to ensure compliance with the channel-centre requirement.

The ARRL has a detailed band plan for US hams showing allocations within each band.

RAC has a chart showing the frequencies available to amateurs in Canada.

Table of amateur MF and HF allocations in the United States and Canada

160 m 1800 – 2000
 United States 1800 – 2000
General, Advanced, Extra
80 / 75 m 3500 – 4000
 United States 3500 – 3525 3525 – 3600 3600 – 3700 3700 – 3800 3800 – 4000
Novice / Technician
60 m 5330 – 5406
 Canada 5332.0 5348.0 5358.5 5373.0 5405.0
 United States 5332.0 5348.0 5358.5 5373.0 5405.0
General, Advanced, Extra
Basic (hon.), Code, Adv.
Note: US licensees operating 60 m are limited to 100 watts PEP ERP relative to a 1/2 wave dipole.

Canadian operators are restricted to 100 watts PEP.[8]

40 m 7000 – 7300
 United States 7000 – 7025 7025 – 7125 7125 – 7175 7175 – 7300
Novice / Technician
30 m 10100-10150
 United States
Note: US limited to General, Advanced and Extra licensees; 200 watts PEP
20 m 14000 – 14350
 United States 14000-14025 14025-14150 14150-14175 14175-14225 14225-14350
17 m 18068 – 18168
 United States 18068 – 18110 18110 – 18168
General, Advanced, Extra
15 m 21000 – 21450
 United States 21000 – 21025 21025 – 21200 21200 – 21225 21225 – 21275 21275 – 21450
Novice / Technician
12 m 24890 – 24990
 United States 24890 – 24930 24930 – 24990
General, Advanced, Extra
10 m 28000 – 29700
 United States 28000 – 28300 28300 – 28500 28500 – 29700
Novice / Technician
General, Advanced, Extra
Note: The 10 metre table is one-third scale, relative to the other tables


  CW, RTTY and data (US: ≤ 1 kHz bandwidth).
   CW, RTTY, data, MCW, phone (AM and SSB), and image (narrow band SSTV modes only).
  CW, phone and image.
  CW and SSB phone (US: Novice & Technician 200 watts PEP only).
  CW, RTTY, data, phone and image.
  CW (US: Novice & Technician 200 watts PEP only).
  CW, Upper sideband suppressed carrier phone, 2.8 kHz bandwidth (2K80J3E) data (60H0J2B and 2K80J2D), 100 watts ERP referenced to a 12 wave dipole.
  CW, RTTY and data (US: ≤ 1 kHz bandwidth; Novice & Technician 200 watts PEP).

ITU Region 3

ITU region 3 consists of Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and Asia south of Siberia. The IARU frequency allocations for hams in ITU Region 3[9] are:

ITU band Band name Frequencies (MHz)
Lower end Upper end
5, LF 2200 metres 135.7 kHz 137.8 kHz
6, MF 630 metres 472 kHz 479 kHz
160 metres 1.8 2.0
7, HF 80 metres 3.5 3.9
60 metres 5.351.5 5.366.5
40 metres 7.0 7.3
30 metres 10.1 10.15
20 metres 14 14.35
17 metres 18.068 18.168
15 metres 21 21.45
12 metres 24.89 24.99
10 metres 28 29.7
8, VHF 6 metres 50 54
2 metres 144 148
9, UHF 70 centimetres 430 450
23 centimetres 1240 1300

Bands above 1300 MHz: societies should consult with the amateur satellite community for proposed satellite operating frequencies before deciding local bandplans above 1300 MHz.

Not all Member Unions follow this plan. As an example, the ACMA does not allow Australian Amateurs to use 3.700 MHz to 3.768 MHz and 3.800 MHz to 3.900 MHz, allocating this region to Emergency and Ambulatory services (Allocations can be found conducting a search of the ACMA Radcomms register [2]. )

The Wireless Institute of Australia has charts for Amateur frequencies for Australia.

The New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters (NZART) has charts for Amateur frequencies for New Zealand.

The Japanese have charts for Amateur frequencies in Japan[10]

Space operations

See also: amateur radio satellite

Radio amateurs may engage in satellite and space craft communications; however, the frequencies allowed for such activities are allocated separately from more general use radio amateur bands.

Under the International Telecommunication Union's rules, all amateur radio operations may only occur within 50 kilometres (31 mi) of the Earth's surface. As such, the Amateur Radio Service is not permitted to engage in satellite operations; however, a sister radio service, called the Amateur Satellite Service, exists which allows satellite operations for the same purposes as the Amateur Radio Service.

In most countries, an amateur radio license conveys operating privileges in both services, and in practice, the legal distinction between the two services is transparent to the average licensee. The primary reason the two services are separate is to limit the frequencies available for satellite operations. Due to the shared nature of the amateur radio allocations internationally, and the nature of satellites to roam worldwide, the ITU does not consider all amateur radio bands appropriate for satellite operations. Being separate from the Amateur Radio Service, the Amateur Satellite Service receives its own frequency allocations. All the allocations are within amateur radio bands, and with one exception, the allocations are the same in all three ITU regions.

Some of the allocations are limited by the ITU in what direction transmissions may be sent (EG: "Earth-to-space" or up-links only). All amateur satellite operations occur within the allocations tabled below, except for AO-7, which has an up-link from 432.125 MHz to 432.175 MHz.

International amateur satellite frequency allocations
Range Band Letter[a] Allocation[11] Preferred sub-bands[b] User status[11] Notes[11]
HF 40 m 7.000 – 7.100 MHz Primary
20 m 14.000 – 14.250 MHz Primary
17 m 18.068 – 18.168 MHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
15 m H 21.000 – 21.450 MHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
12 m 24.890 – 24.990 MHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
10 m A 28.000 – 29.700 MHz 29.300 – 29.510 MHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
VHF 2 m V 144.000 – 146.000 MHz 145.800 – 146.000 MHz Primary
UHF 70 cm U 435.000 – 438.000 MHz NIB[c]
23 cm L 1.260 – 1.270 GHz NIB[c] Only uplinks allowed
13 cm S 2.400 – 2.450 GHz 2.400 – 2.403 GHz NIB[c]
SHF 9 cm S2 3.400 – 3.410 GHz NIB[c] Not available in ITU region 1.
5 cm C 5.650 – 5.670 GHz NIB[c] Only uplinks allowed
5.830 – 5.850 GHz Secondary Only downlinks allowed
3 cm X 10.450 – 10.500 GHz Secondary
1.2 cm K 24.000 – 24.050 GHz Primary
EHF[d] 6 mm R 47.000 – 47.200 GHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
4 mm 76.000 – 77.500 GHz Secondary
77.500 – 78.000 GHz Primary
78.000 – 81.000 GHz Secondary
2 mm 134.000 – 136.000 GHz Primary Entire amateur radio band
136.000 – 141.000 GHz Secondary
1 mm 241.000 – 248.000 GHz Secondary Entire amateur radio band
248.000 – 250.000 GHz Primary
  1. ^ AMSAT band letters. Not all bands have been assigned a letter by AMSAT.
  2. ^ For some allocations, satellite operations are predominantly concentrated in a sub-band of the allocation.
  3. ^ a b c d e Footnote allocation. Use is only allowed on a non-interference basis to other users, as per ITU footnote 5.282.[11]
  4. ^ No amateur satellite operations have yet occurred at EHF; however, AMSAT's P3E is planned to have an R band down-link.

See also


  1. ^ "HF Band Table". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Frequency Bands". ARRL. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  3. ^ Larry D. Wolfgang et al., (ed), The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs, Sixty-Eighth Edition , (1991), ARRL, Newington CT USA ISBN 0-87259-168-9 Chapter 37
  4. ^[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 October 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Odobreno koristenie na 5 Mhz
  8. ^ "Policy and Technical Framework for Amateur Service Use in the 5 MHZ Band". 21 January 2014.
  9. ^ Region 3 Band allocations "Band Plans IARU Region 3". International Amateur Radio Union - Region 3. 15 October 2015. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  10. ^ Amateur frequencies for Japan "Japanese Bandplans" (PDF). The Japan Amateur Radio League, Inc. (JARL). 5 January 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "FCC Online Table of Frequency Allocations" (PDF). 47 C.F.R. Federal Communications Commission. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2011.