HF (High frequency) radio frequencies are between 3 and 30 MHz. Also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decameters (ten to one hundred metres). Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted Medium-frequency (MF), and the next higher frequencies are known as Very high frequency (VHF). Shortwave (2.310 - 25.820 MHz) overlaps and is slightly lower than HF. VHF (Very high frequency) is the radio frequency range from 30 MHz to 300 MHz.
Currently VHF is at the low-end of practical frequency usage, new systems tending to use frequencies in SHF and EHF above the UHF range. Common uses for VHF are FM radio broadcast, television broadcast, land mobile stations (emergency, business, and military), long range data communication with radio modems, Amateur Radio, marine communications, air traffic control communications and air navigation systems (e.g. VOR, DME & ILS).
UHF (Ultra high frequency) designates a range of electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 300 MHz and 3 GHz (3,000 MHz), also known as the decimetre band or decimetre wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decimetres (10 cm to 1 metre). Radio waves with frequencies above the UHF band fall into the SHF (super high frequency) and EHF (extremely high frequency) bands, all of which fall into the microwave frequency range.
HF radio use
The high frequency band is very popular with amateur radio operators, who can take advantage of direct, long-distance (often inter-continental) communications and the "thrill factor" resulting from making contacts in variable conditions. International shortwave broadcasting utilizes this set of frequencies, as well as a seemingly declining number of "utility" users (marine, aviation, military, and diplomatic interests), who have, in recent years, been swayed over to less volatile means of communication (for example, via satellites), but may maintain HF stations after switch-over for back-up purposes. However, the development of Automatic Link Establishment technology based on MIL-STD-188-141A and MIL-STD-188-141B for automated connectivity and frequency selection, along with the high costs of satellite usage, have led to a renaissance in HF usage among these communities. The development of higher speed modems such as those conforming to MIL-STD-188-110B which support data rates up to 9600 bit/s has also increased the usability of HF for data communications. Other standards development such as STANAG 5066 provides for error free data communications through the use of ARQ protocols.
VHF radio use
VHF propagation characteristics are ideal for short-distance terrestrial communication, with a range generally somewhat farther than line-of-sight from the transmitter (see formula below). Unlike high frequencies (HF), the ionosphere does not usually reflect VHF radio and thus transmissions are restricted to the local area (and don't interfere with transmissions thousands of kilometres away). VHF is also less affected by atmospheric noise and interference from electrical equipment than lower frequencies. Whilst it is more easily blocked by land features than HF and lower frequencies, it is less affected by buildings and other less substantial objects than UHF frequencies.
UHF radio use
UHF is the most commonly used frequency bands for transmission of television signals. Modern mobile phones also transmit and receive within the UHF spectrum. UHF is widely used by public service agencies for two-way radio communication, usually using narrowband frequency modulation, but digital services are on the rise. Narrowband radio modems use UHF and VHF frequencies for long range data communications e.g. for supervision and control of power distribution networks and other SCADA and automation applications. There has traditionally been very little radio broadcasting in this band until recently. The Global Positioning System also uses UHF.
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