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Radio Spectrum Allocation

The radio spectrum is the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. In the United States, regulatory responsibility for the radio spectrum is divided between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The FCC, which is an independent regulatory agency, administers spectrum for non-Federal use (i.e., state, local government, commercial, private internal business, and personal use) and the NTIA, which is an operating unit of the Department of Commerce, administers spectrum for Federal use (e.g., use by the Army, the FAA, and the FBI). Within the FCC, the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) provides advice on technical and policy issues pertaining to spectrum allocation and use.

Currently, only frequency bands between 9 kHz and 275 GHz have been allocated (i.e., designated for use by one or more terrestrial or space radiocommunication services or the radio astronomy service under specified conditions). OET maintains the FCC's Table of Frequency Allocations, which is a compilation of allocations. The FCC's Table of Frequency Allocations consists of the International Table of Frequency Allocations ("International Table") and the United States Table of Frequency Allocations ("United States Table"). The FCC's Table of Frequency Allocations is codified at Section 2.106 of the Commission's Rules. For a more detailed description go to the Table of Frequency Allocations Home Page. Note:  The print edition of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is revised yearly to include all final rules that amended the Table of Frequency Allocations and that were published in the Federal Register prior to October 1st.  By contrast, the Commission regularly updates its Online Table of Frequency Allocations shortly after a final rule has been released.

Download the FCC Online Table [Word | PDF] (5/5/14)

Each Commission document that proposes to amend or that amends the Table of Frequency Allocations and its associated news release is available for downloading in the FCC Allocation History File.  The History File contains the complete citation for each document, including information concerning its publication in the Federal Register and in the FCC Record.  The History File also contains the changes to the Table.  If a box (which represents a frequency band) is revised, then the changes are fully explained in the History File.  Note:  On October 4, 2004 , the format of the History File was revised and some of the features described above are only available as of that date.

Download the latest FCC Allocation History File [Word | PDF ] (5/5/14)

Other useful links are:

  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
  • Federal Government Spectrum Compendium: NTIA's detailed narratives describing federal spectrum uses from 225 MHz to 5 GHz. (NTIA)
  • The National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF)
  • The American Radio Relay League (ARRL)
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)
  • European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)
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