RF – Radio Frequency: A Quick Look

Most of the modern technology that people enjoy would not be possible without RF, or Radio Frequency technology. Any electronic device that operates wirelessly in some form or another uses RF. Devices that use RF prominently include television remotes, GPS devices, cell phones, baby monitors and radio-controlled vehicles. These devices are able to transmit information over the air by using radio waves that occur at certain frequencies. These waves surround the planet, and they permeate almost all areas of physical space. Even though the waves that make RF technology possible exist everywhere, they cannot be seen by the naked eye because they exist at frequencies that are too slow to be detected without special equipment. Since these waves cannot be seen, they are mysterious to many people. However, understanding Radio Frequency technology does not have to be difficult.

Devices that operate using RF actually fall within a broad spectrum of frequency usage. The American Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, has established that the official RF range lies between 9 KHz and 275 GHz, though the range actually lies between 3 KHz and 300 GHz. These numbers may not mean much to the average user of electronics, but they correspond with measurable oscillations of energy. Frequencies are measured in terms of the cycles they complete over the course of one second. If a wave completes 1,000 cycles over the course of a second, it is measured with a frequency of one kilohertz, or KHz. This means that the minimum frequency for RF devices is 9,000 cycles per second. One Gigahertz, or GHz, represents one billion cycles produced over the course of second. This means that the top end of the RF spectrum is defined as 275 billion cycles per second.

The range for RF devices is vast, but this total range is divided into segments, or bands. Each band is reserved for specific types of devices. For example, aeronautic and maritime devices exist in the lowest band of frequencies between 9 KHz and 535 KHz. GPS devices operate in a higher range, from 1,227 MHz to 1,575 MHz. The highest reaches of the RF spectrum are reserved for technology designed for radio and satellite astronomy.

Radio waves would exist in the world’s atmosphere regardless of whether they were used by advanced technology or not. Therefore, it simply makes good sense to take advantage of the waves and their ability to help humans transmit data and communications. Humans have been using Radio Frequency technology for decades, and it is likely that the people of the world will continue to use RF for many decades to come, even as electronic innovations become increasingly advanced.

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