Shortwave radio

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Grundig Satellit 400 solid-state, digital shortwave receiver, c. 1986 Grundig Satellit Professional 400.JPG
Grundig Satellit 400 solid-state, digital shortwave receiver, c. 1986

Shortwave radio is radio transmission using shortwave (SW) radio frequencies. There is no official definition of the band, but the range always includes all of the high frequency band (HF), which extends from 3 to 30 MHz (100 to 10 metres); above the medium frequency band (MF), to the bottom of the VHF band.


Radio waves in the shortwave band can be reflected or refracted from a layer of electrically charged atoms in the atmosphere called the ionosphere. Therefore, short waves directed at an angle into the sky can be reflected back to Earth at great distances, beyond the horizon. This is called skywave or "skip" propagation. Thus shortwave radio can be used for very long distance communication, in contrast to radio waves of higher frequency which travel in straight lines (line-of-sight propagation) and are limited by the visual horizon, about 64 km (40 miles). Shortwave radio is used for broadcasting of voice and music to shortwave listeners over very large areas; sometimes entire continents or beyond. Other uses include military over-the-horizon radar, diplomatic communication, amateur radio enthusiasts’ two-way international communication for hobby, education, and emergency service, as well as for long-distance aviation and marine communications.



Radio amateurs carried out the first shortwave transmissions over a long distance before Guglielmo Marconi. Guglielmo Marconi 1901 wireless signal.jpg
Radio amateurs carried out the first shortwave transmissions over a long distance before Guglielmo Marconi.

The name "shortwave" originated during the beginning of radio in the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was divided into long wave (LW), medium wave (MW), and short wave (SW) bands based on the length of the wave. Shortwave radio received its name because the wavelengths in this band are shorter than 200 m (1,500 kHz) which marked the original upper limit of the medium frequency band first used for radio communications. The broadcast medium wave band now extends above the 200 m / 1,500 kHz limit.

Early long-distance radio telegraphy used long waves, below 300  kilohertz (kHz). The drawbacks to this system included a very limited spectrum available for long-distance communication, and the very expensive transmitters, receivers and gigantic antennas. Long waves are also difficult to beam directionally, resulting in a major loss of power over long distances. Prior to the 1920s, the shortwave frequencies above 1.5 MHz were regarded as useless for long-distance communication and were designated in many countries for amateur use. [2]

Guglielmo Marconi, pioneer of radio, commissioned his assistant Charles Samuel Franklin to carry out a large-scale study into the transmission characteristics of short-wavelength waves and to determine their suitability for long-distance transmissions. Franklin rigged up a large antenna at Poldhu Wireless Station, Cornwall, running on 25 kW of power. In June and July 1923, wireless transmissions were completed during nights on 97 meters (about 3 MHz) from Poldhu to Marconi's yacht Elettra in the Cape Verde Islands. [3]

In September 1924, Marconi transmitted day and night on 32 meters (9.4& MHz) from Poldhu to his yacht in Beirut. Franklin went on to refine the directional transmission by inventing the curtain array aerial system. [4] [5] In July 1924, Marconi entered into contracts with the British General Post Office (GPO) to install high-speed shortwave telegraphy circuits from London to Australia, India, South Africa and Canada as the main element of the Imperial Wireless Chain. The UK-to-Canada shortwave "Beam Wireless Service" went into commercial operation on 25 October 1926. Beam Wireless Services from the UK to Australia, South Africa and India went into service in 1927. [3]

Shortwave communications began to grow rapidly in the 1920s. [6] By 1928, more than half of long-distance communications had moved from transoceanic cables and longwave wireless services to shortwave, and the overall volume of transoceanic shortwave communications had vastly increased. Shortwave stations had cost and efficiency advantages over massive longwave wireless installations. [7] However, some commercial longwave communications stations remained in use until the 1960s. Long-distance radio circuits also reduced the need for new cables, although the cables maintained their advantages of high security and a much more reliable and better-quality signal than shortwave.

The cable companies began to lose large sums of money in 1927. A serious financial crisis threatened viability of cable companies that were vital to strategic British interests. The British government convened the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference [8] in 1928 "to examine the situation that had arisen as a result of the competition of Beam Wireless with the Cable Services". It recommended and received Government approval for all overseas cable and wireless resources of the Empire to be merged into one system controlled by a newly formed company in 1929, Imperial and International Communications Ltd. The name of the company was changed to Cable and Wireless Ltd. in 1934.

Long-distance cables had a resurgence beginning in 1956 with the laying of TAT-1 across the Atlantic Ocean, the first voice frequency cable on this route. This provided 36 high quality telephone channels and was soon followed by even higher capacity cables all around the world. Competition from these cables soon ended the economic viability of shortwave radio for commercial communication.

Amateur use of shortwave propagation

Hallicrafters SX-28 shortwave receiver analog tuning dial, circa 1944 Tuning dial, Hallicrafters SX-28.png
Hallicrafters SX-28 shortwave receiver analog tuning dial, circa 1944

Amateur radio operators also discovered that long-distance communication was possible on shortwave bands. Early long-distance services used surface wave propagation at very low frequencies, [9] which are attenuated along the path at wavelengths shorter than 1,000 meters. Longer distances and higher frequencies using this method meant more signal loss. This, and the difficulties of generating and detecting higher frequencies, made discovery of shortwave propagation difficult for commercial services.

Radio amateurs may have conducted the first successful transatlantic tests in December 1921, [10] operating in the 200 meter mediumwave band (near 1,500 kHz, inside the modern AM broadcast band), which at that time was the shortest wavelength / highest frequency available to amateur radio. In 1922 hundreds of North American amateurs were heard in Europe on 200 meters and at least 20 North American amateurs heard amateur signals from Europe. The first two-way communications between North American and Hawaiian amateurs began in 1922 at 200 meters. Although operation on wavelengths shorter than 200 meters was technically illegal (but tolerated at the time as the authorities mistakenly believed that such frequencies were useless for commercial or military use), amateurs began to experiment with those wavelengths using newly available vacuum tubes shortly after World War I.

Extreme interference at the longer edge of the 150–200 meter band – the official wavelengths allocated to amateurs by the Second National Radio Conference [11] in 1923 – forced amateurs to shift to shorter and shorter wavelengths; however, amateurs were limited by regulation to wavelengths longer than 150 meters (2 MHz). A few fortunate amateurs who obtained special permission for experimental communications at wavelengths shorter than 150 meters completed hundreds of long-distance two-way contacts on 100 meters (3 MHz) in 1923 including the first transatlantic two-way contacts. [12]

By 1924 many additional specially licensed amateurs were routinely making transoceanic contacts at distances of 6,000 miles (9,600 km) and more. On 21 September 1924 several amateurs in California completed two-way contacts with an amateur in New Zealand. On 19 October amateurs in New Zealand and England completed a 90 minute two-way contact nearly halfway around the world. On 10 October the Third National Radio Conference made three shortwave bands available to U.S. amateurs [13] at 80 meters (3.75 MHz), 40 meters (7 MHz) and 20 meters (14 MHz). These were allocated worldwide, while the 10 meter band (28 MHz) was created by the Washington International Radiotelegraph Conference [14] on 25 November 1927. The 15 meter band (21 MHz) was opened to amateurs in the United States on 1 May 1952.

Propagation characteristics

Formation of a skip zone Skip Zone Example.gif
Formation of a skip zone

Shortwave radio frequency energy is capable of reaching any location on the Earth as it is influenced by ionospheric reflection back to the earth by the ionosphere, (a phenomenon known as "skywave propagation"). A typical phenomenon of shortwave propagation is the occurrence of a skip zone where reception fails. With a fixed working frequency, large changes in ionospheric conditions may create skip zones at night.

As a result of the multi-layer structure of the ionosphere, propagation often simultaneously occurs on different paths, scattered by the ‘E’ or ‘F’ layer and with different numbers of hops, a phenomenon that may be disturbed for certain techniques. Particularly for lower frequencies of the shortwave band, absorption of radio frequency energy in the lowest ionospheric layer, the ‘D’ layer, may impose a serious limit. This is due to collisions of electrons with neutral molecules, absorbing some of a radio frequency's energy and converting it to heat. [15] Predictions of skywave propagation depend on:

Types of modulation

National Panasonic R3000 analog shortwave radio receiver, circa 1965. Shortwave Radio.jpg
National Panasonic R3000 analog shortwave radio receiver, circa 1965.

Several different types of modulation are used to incorporate information in a short-wave signal.

Audio modes


Amplitude modulation is the simplest type and the most commonly used for shortwave broadcasting. The instantaneous amplitude of the carrier is controlled by the amplitude of the signal (speech, or music, for example). At the receiver, a simple detector recovers the desired modulation signal from the carrier. [17]


Single sideband transmission is a form of amplitude modulation but in effect filters the result of modulation. An amplitude-modulated signal has frequency components both above and below the carrier frequency. If one set of these components is eliminated as well as the residual carrier, only the remaining set is transmitted. This reduces power in the transmission, as roughly 23 of the energy sent by an AM signal is in the carrier, which is not needed to recover the information contained in the signal. It also reduces signal bandwidth, enabling less than one-half the AM signal bandwidth to be used. [17]

The drawback is the receiver is more complicated, since it must re-create the carrier to recover the signal. Small errors in the detection process greatly affect the pitch of the received signal. As a result, single sideband is not used for music or general broadcast. Single sideband is used for long-range voice communications by ships and aircraft, citizen's band, and amateur radio operators. Lower sideband (LSB) is customarily used below 9 MHz and USB (upper sideband) above 9 MHz.


Vestigial sideband transmits the carrier and one complete sideband, but filters out most of the other sideband. It is a compromise between AM and SSB, enabling simple receivers to be used, but requires almost as much transmitter power as AM. Its main advantage is that only half the bandwidth of an AM signal is used. It is used by the Canadian standard time signal station CHU. Vestigial sideband was used for analog television and by ATSC, the digital TV system used in North America.


Narrow-band frequency modulation (NBFM or NFM) is used typically above 20 MHz. Because of the larger bandwidth required, NBFM is commonly used for VHF communication. Regulations limit the bandwidth of a signal transmitted in the HF bands, and the advantages of frequency modulation are greatest if the FM signal has a wide bandwidth. NBFM is limited to short-range transmissions due to the multiphasic distortions created by the ionosphere. [18]


Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is a digital modulation for use on bands below 30 MHz. It is a digital signal, like the data modes, below, but is for transmitting audio, like the analog modes above.

Data modes


Continuous wave (CW) is on-and-off keying of a sine-wave carrier, used for Morse code communications and Hellschreiber facsimile-based teleprinter transmissions. It is a data mode, although often listed separately. [19] It is typically received via lower or upper SSB modes. [17]


Radioteletype, fax, digital, slow-scan television, and other systems use forms of frequency-shift keying or audio subcarriers on a shortwave carrier. These generally require special equipment to decode, such as software on a computer equipped with a sound card.

Note that on modern computer-driven systems, digital modes are typically sent by coupling a computer's sound output to the SSB input of a radio.


Portable shortwave receiver's digital display tuned to the 75 meter band Shortwave Radio Dial.jpg
Portable shortwave receiver's digital display tuned to the 75 meter band

Some established users of the shortwave radio bands may include:

Sporadic or non-traditional users of the shortwave bands may include:

Shortwave broadcasting

See International broadcasting for details on the history and practice of broadcasting to foreign audiences.

See List of shortwave radio broadcasters for a list of international and domestic shortwave radio broadcasters.

See Shortwave relay station for the actual kinds of integrated technologies used to bring high power signals to listeners.

Frequency allocations

The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), organized under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union, allocates bands for various services in conferences every few years. The last WRC took place in 2007.

At WRC-97 in 1997, the following bands were allocated for international broadcasting. AM shortwave broadcasting channels are allocated with a 5 kHz separation for traditional analog audio broadcasting.

Metre BandFrequency RangeRemarks
120 m2.3–2.495 MHztropical band
90 m3.2–3.4 MHztropical band
75 m3.9–4 MHzshared with the North American amateur radio 80m band
60 m4.75–5.06 MHztropical band
49 m5.9–6.2 MHz 
41 m7.2–7.6 MHzshared with the amateur radio 40m band
31 m9.4–9.9 MHzcurrently the most heavily used band
25 m11.6–12.2 MHz 
22 m13.57–13.87 MHz
19 m15.1–15.8 MHz 
16 m17.48–17.9 MHz 
15 m18.9–19.02 MHzalmost unused, could become a DRM band
13 m21.45–21.85 MHz 
11 m25.6–26.1 MHzmay be used for local DRM broadcasting

Although countries generally follow the table above, there may be small differences between countries or regions. For example, in the official bandplan of the Netherlands, [25] the 49 m band starts at 5.95 MHz, the 41 m band ends at 7.45 MHz, the 11 m band starts at 25.67 MHz, and the 120 m, 90 m, and 60 m bands are absent altogether. Additionally, international broadcasters sometimes operate outside the normal WRC-allocated bands or use off-channel frequencies. This is done for practical reasons, or to attract attention in crowded bands (60 m, 49 m, 40 m, 41 m, 31 m, 25 m).

The new digital audio broadcasting format for shortwave DRM operates 10 kHz or 20 kHz channels. There are some ongoing discussions with respect to specific band allocation for DRM, as it mainly transmitted in 10 kHz format.

The power used by shortwave transmitters ranges from less than one watt for some experimental and amateur radio transmissions to 500 kilowatts and higher for intercontinental broadcasters and over-the-horizon radar. Shortwave transmitting centers often use specialized antenna designs (like the ALLISS antenna technology) to concentrate radio energy at the target area.


Soviet shortwave listener in Borisoglebsk, 1941 Soviet SWL URS3-108-B.jpeg
Soviet shortwave listener in Borisoglebsk, 1941

Shortwave does possess a number of advantages over newer technologies, including the following:


Shortwave radio's benefits are sometimes regarded as being outweighed by its drawbacks, including:

Shortwave listening

A pennant sent to overseas listeners by Radio Budapest in the late 1980s RADIOBUDAPESTPENNANTLATE80s.JPG
A pennant sent to overseas listeners by Radio Budapest in the late 1980s

The Asia-Pacific Telecommunity estimates that there are approximately 600 million shortwave broadcast-radio receivers in use in 2002. [28] WWCR claims that there are 1.5 billion shortwave receivers worldwide. [29]

Many hobbyists listen to shortwave broadcasters. In some cases, the goal is to hear as many stations from as many countries as possible (DXing); others listen to specialized shortwave utility, or "ute", transmissions such as maritime, naval, aviation, or military signals. Others focus on intelligence signals from numbers stations, stations which transmit strange broadcast usually for intelligence operations, or the two way communications by amateur radio operators. Some short wave listeners behave analogously to "lurkers" on the Internet, in that they listen only, and never attempt to send out their own signals. Other listeners participate in clubs, or actively send and receive QSL cards, or become involved with amateur radio and start transmitting on their own.

Many listeners tune the shortwave bands for the programmes of stations broadcasting to a general audience (such as Radio Taiwan International, China Radio International, Voice of America, Radio France Internationale, BBC World Service, Voice of Korea, Radio Free Sarawak etc.). Today, through the evolution of the Internet, the hobbyist can listen to shortwave signals via remotely controlled or web controlled shortwave receivers around the world, even without owning a shortwave radio. [30] Many international broadcasters offer live streaming audio on their websites and a number have closed their shortwave service entirely, or severely curtailed it, in favour of internet transmission.

Shortwave listeners, or SWLs, can obtain QSL cards from broadcasters, utility stations or amateur radio operators as trophies of the hobby. Some stations even give out special certificates, pennants, stickers and other tokens and promotional materials to shortwave listeners.

Shortwave broadcasts and music

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen Stockhausen 1994 WDR.jpg
Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

Some musicians have been attracted to the unique aural characteristics of shortwave radio which – due to the nature of amplitude modulation, varying propagation conditions, and the presence of interference – generally has lower fidelity than local broadcasts (particularly via FM stations). Shortwave transmissions often have bursts of distortion, and "hollow" sounding loss of clarity at certain aural frequencies, altering the harmonics of natural sound and creating at times a strange "spacey" quality due to echoes and phase distortion. Evocations of shortwave reception distortions have been incorporated into rock and classical compositions, by means of delays or feedback loops, equalizers, or even playing shortwave radios as live instruments. Snippets of broadcasts have been mixed into electronic sound collages and live musical instruments, by means of analogue tape loops or digital samples. Sometimes the sounds of instruments and existing musical recordings are altered by remixing or equalizing, with various distortions added, to replicate the garbled effects of shortwave radio reception. [31] [32]

The first attempts by serious composers to incorporate radio effects into music may be those of the Russian physicist and musician Léon Theremin, [33] who perfected a form of radio oscillator as a musical instrument in 1928 (regenerative circuits in radios of the time were prone to breaking into oscillation, adding various tonal harmonics to music and speech); and in the same year, the development of a French instrument called the Ondes Martenot by its inventor Maurice Martenot, a French cellist and former wireless telegrapher. Karlheinz Stockhausen used shortwave radio and effects in works including Hymnen (1966–1967), Kurzwellen (1968) – adapted for the Beethoven Bicentennial in Opus 1970 with filtered and distorted snippets of Beethoven pieces – Spiral (1968), Pole , Expo (both 1969–1970), and Michaelion (1997). [31]

Cypriot composer Yannis Kyriakides incorporated shortwave numbers station transmissions in his 1999 ConSPIracy cantata. [34]

Holger Czukay, a student of Stockhausen, was one of the first to use shortwave in a rock music context. [32] In 1975, German electronic music band Kraftwerk recorded a full length concept album around simulated radiowave and shortwave sounds, entitled Radio-Activity . [35] The The's Radio Cineola monthly broadcasts drew heavily on shortwave radio sound. [36]

Shortwave's future

PC spectrum display of a modern software defined shortwave receiver Penny Mercury.jpg
PC spectrum display of a modern software defined shortwave receiver

The development of direct broadcasts from satellites has reduced the demand for shortwave receiver hardware, but there are still a great number of shortwave broadcasters. A new digital radio technology, Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), is expected to improve the quality of shortwave audio from very poor to standards comparable to the FM broadcast band. [37] The future of shortwave radio is threatened by the rise of power line communication (PLC), also known as Broadband over Power Lines (BPL), which uses a data stream transmitted over unshielded power lines. As the BPL frequencies used overlap with shortwave bands, severe distortions can make listening to analog shortwave radio signals near power lines difficult or impossible. [38]

According to Andy Sennitt, former editor of the World Radio TV Handbook,

“shortwave is a legacy technology, which is expensive and environmentally unfriendly. A few countries are hanging on to it, but most have faced up to the fact that the glory days of shortwave have gone. Religious broadcasters will still use it because they are not too concerned with listening figures”. [37]

However Thomas Witherspoon, editor of shortwave news site wrote that

“shortwave remains the most accessible international communications medium that still provides listeners with the protection of complete anonymity”. [39]

According to Nigel Fry, head of Distribution for the BBC World Service Group,

“I still see a place for shortwave in the 21st century, especially for reaching areas of the world that are prone to natural disasters that destroy local broadcasting and Internet infrastructure”. [37]

See also

Related Research Articles

Transmission medium Conduit for signal propagation

A transmission medium is something that can mediate the propagation of signals for the purposes of telecommunication. Signals are typically imposed on a wave of some kind suitable for the chosen medium. For example, data can modulate sound, and a transmission medium for sounds may be air, but solids and liquids may also act as the transmission medium. Vacuum or air constitutes a good transmission medium for electromagnetic waves such as light and radio waves. While material substance is not required for electromagnetic waves to propagate, such waves are usually affected by the transmission media they pass through, for instance, by absorption or reflection or refraction at the interfaces between media. Technical devices can therefore be employed to transmit or guide waves. Thus, an optical fiber or a copper cable is used as transmission media.

Very high frequency The range 30-300 MHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

Very high frequency (VHF) is the ITU designation for the range of radio frequency electromagnetic waves from 30 to 300 megahertz (MHz), with corresponding wavelengths of ten meters to one meter. Frequencies immediately below VHF are denoted high frequency (HF), and the next higher frequencies are known as ultra high frequency (UHF).

Ultra high frequency The range 300-3000 MHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

Ultra high frequency (UHF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies in the range between 300 megahertz (MHz) and 3 gigahertz (GHz), also known as the decimetre band as the wavelengths range from one meter to one tenth of a meter. Radio waves with frequencies above the UHF band fall into the super-high frequency (SHF) or microwave frequency range. Lower frequency signals fall into the VHF or lower bands. UHF radio waves propagate mainly by line of sight; they are blocked by hills and large buildings although the transmission through building walls is strong enough for indoor reception. They are used for television broadcasting, cell phones, satellite communication including GPS, personal radio services including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, walkie-talkies, cordless phones, and numerous other applications.

Very low frequency The range 3-30 kHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

Very low frequency or VLF is the ITU designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 3–30 kHz, corresponding to wavelengths from 100 to 10 km, respectively. The band is also known as the myriameter band or myriameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten myriameters. Due to its limited bandwidth, audio (voice) transmission is highly impractical in this band, and therefore only low data rate coded signals are used. The VLF band is used for a few radio navigation services, government time radio stations and for secure military communication. Since VLF waves can penetrate at least 40 meters (131 ft) into saltwater, they are used for military communication with submarines.

Low frequency (LF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 30–300 kHz. Since its wavelengths range from 10–1 km, respectively, it is also known as the kilometre band or kilometre wave.

Medium frequency The range 300-3000 kHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

Medium frequency (MF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 300 kilohertz (kHz) to 3 megahertz (MHz). Part of this band is the medium wave (MW) AM broadcast band. The MF band is also known as the hectometer band as the wavelengths range from ten to one hectometer. Frequencies immediately below MF are denoted low frequency (LF), while the first band of higher frequencies is known as high frequency (HF). MF is mostly used for AM radio broadcasting, navigational radio beacons, maritime ship-to-shore communication, and transoceanic air traffic control.

Longwave Radio transmission using wavelengths above 1000 m

In radio, longwave, long wave or long-wave, and commonly abbreviated LW, refers to parts of the radio spectrum with wavelengths longer than what was originally called the medium-wave broadcasting band. The term is historic, dating from the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was considered to consist of longwave (LW), medium-wave (MW), and short-wave (SW) radio bands. Most modern radio systems and devices use wavelengths which would then have been considered 'ultra-short'.

Radio broadcasting transmission by radio waves intended to reach a wide audience

Radio broadcasting is transmission of audio (sound), sometimes with related metadata, by radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. In terrestrial radio broadcasting the radio waves are broadcast by a land-based radio station, while in satellite radio the radio waves are broadcast by a satellite in Earth orbit. To receive the content the listener must have a broadcast radio receiver (radio). Stations are often affiliated with a radio network which provides content in a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both. Radio stations broadcast with several different types of modulation: AM radio stations transmit in AM, FM radio stations transmit in FM, which are older analog audio standards, while newer digital radio stations transmit in several digital audio standards: DAB, HD radio, DRM. Television broadcasting is a separate service which also uses radio frequencies to broadcast television (video) signals.

High frequency The range 3-30 MHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

High frequency (HF) is the ITU designation for the range of radio frequency electromagnetic waves between 3 and 30 megahertz (MHz). It is also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as its wavelengths range from one to ten decameters. Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted medium frequency (MF), while the next band of higher frequencies is known as the very high frequency (VHF) band. The HF band is a major part of the shortwave band of frequencies, so communication at these frequencies is often called shortwave radio. Because radio waves in this band can be reflected back to Earth by the ionosphere layer in the atmosphere – a method known as "skip" or "skywave" propagation – these frequencies are suitable for long-distance communication across intercontinental distances and for mountainous terrains which prevent line-of-sight communications. The band is used by international shortwave broadcasting stations (3.95–25.82 MHz), aviation communication, government time stations, weather stations, amateur radio and citizens band services, among other uses.

Radiotelephone Communications system for transmission of speech over radio

A radiotelephone, abbreviated RT, is a radio communication system for transmission of speech over radio. Radiotelephony means transmission of sound (audio) by radio, in contrast to radiotelegraphy, which is transmission of telegraph signals, or television, transmission of moving pictures and sound. The term may include radio broadcasting systems, which transmit audio one way to listeners, but usually refers to two-way radio systems for bidirectional person-to-person voice communication between separated users, such as CB radio or marine radio. In spite of the name, radiotelephony systems are not necessarily connected to or have anything to do with the telephone network, and in some radio services, including GMRS, interconnection is prohibited.

Radio propagation is the behavior of radio waves as they travel, or are propagated, from one point to another, or into various parts of the atmosphere. As a form of electromagnetic radiation, like light waves, radio waves are affected by the phenomena of reflection, refraction, diffraction, absorption, polarization, and scattering. Understanding the effects of varying conditions on radio propagation has many practical applications, from choosing frequencies for international shortwave broadcasters, to designing reliable mobile telephone systems, to radio navigation, to operation of radar systems.

Digital Radio Mondiale Digital radio broadcasting standard

Digital Radio Mondiale is a set of digital audio broadcasting technologies designed to work over the bands currently used for analogue radio broadcasting including AM broadcasting, particularly shortwave, and FM broadcasting. DRM is more spectrally efficient than AM and FM, allowing more stations, at higher quality, into a given amount of bandwidth, using xHE-AAC audio coding format. Various other MPEG-4 and Opus codecs are also compatible, but the standard now specifies xHE-AAC.


In radio communication, skywave or skip refers to the propagation of radio waves reflected or refracted back toward Earth from the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere. Since it is not limited by the curvature of the Earth, skywave propagation can be used to communicate beyond the horizon, at intercontinental distances. It is mostly used in the shortwave frequency bands.

Amateur television

Amateur television (ATV) is the transmission of broadcast quality video and audio over the wide range of frequencies of radio waves allocated for radio amateur (Ham) use. ATV is used for non-commercial experimentation, pleasure, and public service events. Ham TV stations were on the air in many cities before commercial television stations came on the air. Various transmission standards are used, these include the broadcast transmission standards of NTSC in North America and Japan, and PAL or SECAM elsewhere, utilizing the full refresh rates of those standards. ATV includes the study of building of such transmitters and receivers, and the study of radio propagation of signals travelling between transmitting and receiving stations.

The 80-meter or 3.5 MHz band is a band of radio frequencies allocated for amateur radio use, from 3.5 to 4.0 MHz in IARU Region 2, and generally 3.5 to 3.8 or 3.9 MHz in Regions 1 and 3 respectively. The upper portion of the band, which is usually used for phone (voice), is sometimes referred to as 75 meters. In Europe, 75m is a shortwave broadcast band, with a number of national radio services operating between 3.9 and 4.0 MHz.

Shortwave bands are frequency allocations for use within the shortwave radio spectrum. They are the primary medium for applications such as maritime communications, international broadcasting and worldwide amateur radio activity because they take advantage of ionospheric skip propagation to send data around the world. The bands are conventionally stated in wavelength, measured in metres. Propagation behavior on the shortwave bands depends on the time of day, the season and the level of solar activity.

DXing is the hobby of receiving and identifying distant radio or television signals, or making two-way radio contact with distant stations in amateur radio, citizens' band radio or other two-way radio communications. Many DXers also attempt to obtain written verifications of reception or contact, sometimes referred to as "QSLs" or "veries". The name of the hobby comes from DX, telegraphic shorthand for "distance" or "distant".

Near vertical incidence skywave, or NVIS, is a skywave radio-wave propagation path that provides usable signals in the distances range — usually 0–650 km (0–400 miles). It is used for military and paramilitary communications, broadcasting, especially in the tropics, and by radio amateurs for nearby contacts circumventing line-of-sight barriers. The radio waves travel near-vertically upwards into the ionosphere, where they are refracted back down and can be received within a circular region up to 650 km from the transmitter. If the frequency is too high, refraction fails to occur and if it is too low, absorption in the ionospheric D layer may reduce the signal strength.

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 Technology of using radio waves to carry information

Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transmitter connected to an antenna which radiates the waves, and received by another antenna connected to a radio receiver. Radio is very widely used in modern technology, in radio communication, radar, radio navigation, remote control, remote sensing and other applications.


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