Radio Frequency Ranges: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Different radio frequencies are useful for different things. For example, some are used to send TV signals, while others are used for AM radio. Learn about the different radio frequency bands in this lesson.

The Radio Spectrum

We use radio waves to engage in many different forms of communication. But, imagine if there was only one radio frequency and we could only do one thing at a time! So, pick Wi-Fi or TV, but not both at once! That would be really annoying. Luckily, we have a whole spectrum of radio frequencies.

The electromagnetic spectrum contains all the frequencies of electromagnetic waves including visible light waves, microwaves, and radio waves. The radio wave spectrum is the range of electromagnetic waves that have frequencies between 3 kHz (kilohertz) and 300 GHz (gigahertz).

The frequencies within the radio spectrum are divided into ranges called radio frequency bands. Different bands are useful for different things, depending on the frequency of the radio waves in that band.

ITU Bands

There are different ways of breaking up the radio spectrum frequencies into bands. We'll start with the bands used by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Frequency Band
3 kHz-30 kHz Very Low Frequency
30 kHz-300 kHz Low Frequency
300 kHz-3,000 kHz (3 MHz) Medium Frequency
3 MHz-30 MHz High Frequency
30 MHz-300 MHz Very High Frequency
300 MHz-3,000 MHz (3 GHz) Ultra High Frequency
3 GHz-30 GHz Super High Frequency
30 GHz-300 GHz Extremely High Frequency

3 kHz - 300 MHz

Between 3 kHz and 300 MHz, the ITU defines five bands. Let's take a look at what some of the frequencies in these bands are used for:

  • Very Low Frequency (VLF) 3 kHz - 30 kHz: Frequencies in this band are used for navigation and some heart rate monitors.
  • Low Frequency (LF) 30 kHz - 300 kHz and Medium Frequency (MF) 300 kHz - 3 MHz: The actual radio stations begin. AM radio stations use frequencies in both the LF and MF bands. RFID chips for pets also use the frequencies in these bands.
  • High Frequency (HF) 3 MHz - 30 MHz: Shortwave and amateur radios use these frequencies as do airplanes when they have to talk over the horizon and can't see each other.
  • Very High Frequency (VHF) 30 MHz - 300 MHz: FM radio uses frequencies in this band. Some TV broadcasts also use VHF, and airplanes use it when they can see each other.

300 MHz to 300 GHz

Now let's take a look at the three highest frequencies:

Wireless internet uses frequencies in the UHF and SHF range
Wireless router

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