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What is Radio Frequencies? Types of Radio Frequencies

With the growing popularity of radio frequencies, I will not be surprised if you are seeking to know what is radio frequencies.

If that is what you are here for, you can be sure of returning with a satisfactory explanation. As such, this piece will be treating many other things you ought to know about the subject.

From its meaning to its application to how you can enhance it, you will learn just about everything in this post.

The article will also be touching on the operational principles upon which radio frequencies function.

This promises to be an exciting read. And after going through the entire post, you should be able to tell if radio frequencies are dangerous as some presume.

Purpose of Radio Frequency

The very first place we are pitching our tent is to understand the essence of radio frequency. In other words, why radio frequency?

We are closer to one form of communication device or the other, even though we almost lack an understanding of how communication signals are propagated.

Radio frequency is almost seen in all communication technology from receivers to transmitters to computers, TVs, mobile devices, and others.

Its application is also vastly employed in current carrier systems, which include control and telephony circuits.

The MOS kind of integrated circuit happens to be the brain behind today’s radio frequency wireless telecoms, like telephony.

Radio frequencies have also found great use in the field of medicine. They are used in electric current or radiating waves’ forms.

Radio frequency energy, as it is popularly called, is not new to the field of medicine. Instead, they have been using it for close to eight decades.

To this end, they have mostly found uses in minimally invasive surgeries that employed radio frequency ablation.

A good example is sleep apnea treatment. So you can see that radio frequency plays a great role in our everyday lives.

What is Radio Frequencies?

Radio frequencies are all about the oscillation rate of electromagnetic (EM) radio waves within the 3 kHz to 300 GHz range and the alternating currents responsible for transmitting the radio signals.

That particular frequency range is what is employed in broadcasting and communication transmissions.

While radio frequency talks about the oscillation rate of the waves, it can also be called wireless or radio communication.

Having understood the basic meaning of radio frequencies, I would like us to dig a bit into the subject.

Radio frequencies seem to have countless applications in various fields.

But, if we limit our discussion to the field of communication and information technology, its definition will then revolve around the frequency band through which wireless telecommunication signals are transmitted or broadcast.

Radio frequencies are normally outputted by oscillating current a specific number of times before radiating off an antenna into the atmosphere as EM radio waves.

The reception and transmission of radio frequency signals are possible through what is known as the skin effect.

This phenomenon is what explains how radio frequencies can latch themselves as they flow through a conductor surface. As a result, they do not penetrate the conductor as you would expect.

Types of radio frequencies

If we aim to understand the types of radio frequencies, we will have to discuss the radio frequency spectrum.

The RF spectrum is what breaks down radio frequencies into their various categories.

Please, let it be known that various industries use radio frequencies based on the different aspects of the RF spectrum.

So, let’s highlight and explain the different radio frequencies along with their applications.

01. Low to Medium Frequencies

This is the first category of radio frequencies we will be looking at.

This group comprises the ELF and VLF, which stand for extremely low frequencies and very low frequencies.

The most notable feature of this radio frequency range is their long-range, which has made them highly useful for rock and water penetration to ensure seamless submarine communication.

They are also ideal for use within caves and mines. In addition, ELF and VLF are applied in aviation and marine radio communication and AM radio.

That explains why the long-range feature of AM is especially useful at night hours, except for the usual interference that reduces its signal quality.

02. Higher Frequencies

Think of higher frequencies as a composition of the following bands: HF, VHF, and UHF bands, like FM radio, public service radio, broadcast television sound, global positioning systems, and cell phones.

These bands transmit a data or audio signal onto a carrier wave, encoded in FM format.

The signal’s amplitude is kept constant, whereas the frequency varied in line with the carrier signal’s needs.

The signal quality for FM is much better than that of AM since it is less prone to any environmental factors.

FM receivers are equally designed not to respond to amplitude fluctuations too. Therefore, the signal quality will always be good, so long as it remains beyond a threshold value.

According to a certain report, FM normally ranges from 88 MHz to 108 MHz.

03. Shortwave

Maybe not the most popular kind of radio frequencies because of the prevalence of the others in the radio frequency spectrum.

You would find the radio frequency from 1.7 MHz to 30 MHz. Within that bracket, if it is further subdivided again.

The output is now assigned for different purposes; for instance, it is utilized by broadcasting stations.

If you have heard about the British Broadcasting Corporation and Voice of America radio stations, they use this radio frequency range.

04. Highest Frequencies

This radio frequency group comprises the SHF and EHF bands, alternatively known as super-high frequencies and extremely high frequencies.

Sometimes, this radio frequency type is seen as a portion of the microwave.

Recall that microwaves are also part of the EM spectrum but not a part of the radio frequency spectrum.

How SHF and EHF are applied have suffered great limitations because air molecules tend to absorb their molecules.

How do radio frequencies work?

Radio waves are known for exhibiting the longest wavelengths among all the other components in the EM spectrum.

That is why they are capable of transporting information from one point to another point. However, radio waves never transport that information just like that. So, how do they work?

The radio waves normally undergo what is known as modulation. Another way to explain modulation is alteration.

The carrier wave will be overlaid by a sound wave that compels it to change.

Radio stations normally alter their carrier waves in two ways: FM and AM, frequency modulation, and amplitude modulation.

For example, a radio station that relays AM signal would broadcast its carrier wave to ensure a steady frequency, whereas the overlay carrier wave would alter the amplitude.

For FM stations, it is the other way round. The broadcast signal is transmitted at a constant amplitude, while the frequency will be modulated in line with the overlay carrier signal.

Thus, AM and FM radios operate with the help of analog signals. In stark contrast, digital radios used in recent times do transport information in digital format, encoded in numbers.

How to improve radio frequency?

Like we had initially established, radio frequency or RF is just another term for radio or wireless communication. In other words, we can rephrase the above question to how to boost wireless communication.

A group of researchers at the New Jersey & Harvard University tried to boost radio frequency.

Their report stated that the use of multiple antennas could boost radio waves. This one greatly applies to communication technology.

They demonstrated that radio signal data transmission rates could be overwhelmingly multiplied by three when more than one antenna is used in its transmission.

They went further to state that if the use of multiple antennas is practiced, mobile phone operators would have the capacity to support more traffic and more users.

According to one of the researchers, whatever can enable mobile phone operators to accommodate more traffic and earn more in the process is good for business.

Several spokespersons for different telecoms companies have come out to laud the researchers for their discoveries.

They say it has been of immense benefits to them as a company.

The signal boost is due to the existence of six unique magnetic and electric states of polarization.

No longer the usual two. So that increase in number is part of what explains the radio frequency boost by multiple antennas.

FAQ’s About Radio Frequencies

Are radio frequencies and radio waves the same thing?

Although radio frequencies revolve around EM radio waves’ oscillation rate within a certain frequency range, they are still the same thing as radio waves.

You can also refer to them as wireless communication for the sake of simplicity.

The radio frequency spectrum is also part of the radio waves; the more reason they are seen as the same.

Can aluminum foil boost radio signal?

There is this general perception that aluminum foil can help boost radio waves.

The truth is that it is not as effective as many people claim. In the real sense, it may end up hurting the quality of reception.

So, I think it depends more on how you use it. The antenna length and the target frequency are some of the factors you may want to consider.

Here is how it works; when you put the foil at the antenna’s end, the antenna length is increased.

If the resulting length resonates with the target frequency, the reception will be powered.

But, let’s assume your antenna is already working with the target frequency before adding the aluminum foil.

Then, you may cause the antenna length to not resonate with the incoming radio frequency, hurting the reception.

How is information encoded in radio waves?

Modern digital radios are noted for transporting information in a digital format. These signals are encoded in numeric formats as they move from one point to another.

As a result, countless radio signals moving around with digital signals and sound wave signals hit your receiver in intervals of seconds.

You tune the receiver to align and pick a particular signal. The amplifier in the receiver now boosts the signal for better quality before it is finally converted to sound.

What are the dangers of radio frequencies?

Just like everything else in life, if you expose yourself to too much of radio frequencies, it will negatively affect your health.

But, when we talk about becoming sick due to a large dose of radio waves, we are not talking of the RF that flies in the atmosphere.

You have to be deliberate about this by being exposed to some device, like in the hospital.

So, it is not like exposing ourselves to the amount of radio waves in the atmosphere can cause any damage.

The amount of EM radiation in the air is negligible in this regard.

How can you keep yourself protected from radio frequencies?

If you want to reduce your chances of coming in contact with any radio waves, you need to stay indoors.

Try closing your windows and doors as much as you can. Get into a shower to wash off any part of your body that has been exposed to any radio frequencies. I think this sounds easier than done.

Final verdict

Radio frequencies are all around us when you think of how we use certain devices.

Most of the technologies we use today are made possible by radio waves.

Communication and information would not have been efficient today without radio frequencies.

You have also learned that the radio frequency spectrum is quite different from the electromagnetic spectrum, even though it is somehow a subset.

One of the reliable ways to improve radio frequency is through the use of multiple antennas. Until we have a new means of ensuring communication, RF will remain at the heart of technology.

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