The amateur radio service is allocated a number of "bands", or frequency blocks in the electromagnetic spectrum. This is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, and by various equivalent bodies, per international treaties, in other countries. The bands are commonly named in terms of wavelength rather than frequency (under the formula frequency*wavelength=300) because, in the early days of radio, wavelength was the preferred way of characterizing this.
While the FCC is legally charged with administering the amateur service, almost all tasks, including administration of licensing tests, are actually done by volunteers.
The license classes are as follows, with increasingly comprehensive written examinations. There is no longer a Morse code test for any class:
Notes on the table
"CW" ("continuous wave") generally means plain Morse code. "Phone" generally means Single Sideband voice transmission, though it includes plain AM, FM, and phase modulation. "RTTY" means various forms of Teletype transmission. "Digital" includes a variety of computer-generated data formats, with various modulation techniques.
The "CW part" includes plain CW as well as RTTY and digital. The "phone part" includes voice and image.
Except as noted, CW itself is permitted anywhere in the band—the "CW part" or the "phone part", though it is generally used only in the "CW part".
Except as noted, Extra-class licensees may uses any frequency; other classes have restrictions as shown.
Except as noted, power output is limited to 2000 Watts.
Novice and Technician licensees may use only the frequencies, power, and modes listed.
|Name||CW part (MHz)||Phone part (MHz)||Class restrictions||Notes|
|160M||1.800-2.000||1.800-2.000||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; no Novice or Tech|
|80M||3.500-3.600||3.600-4.000||Adv: no CW below 3.525, no phone below 3.700; Gen: no CW below 3.525, no phone below 3.800; Novice and Tech may use 3.525-3.600, CW only, 200 Watts|
|60M||none||Approx 5.3 MHz, See notes||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; no Novice or Tech||Very special: upper sideband SSB phone only, 50 Watts, exactly 5 channels, with suppressed carrier at 5.3305, 5.3465, 5.3665, 5.3715, and 5.4035|
|40M||7.000-7.125||7.125-7.300||Adv: no CW below 7.025; Gen: no CW below 7.025, no phone below 7.175; Novice and Tech may use 7.025-7.125, CW only, 200 Watts|
|30M||10.100-10.150||none||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; no Novice or Tech||200 Watts|
|20M||14.000-14.150||14.150-14.350||Adv: no CW below 14.025, no phone below 14.175; Gen: no CW below 14.025, no phone below 14.225|
|17M||18.068-18.110||18.110-18.168||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; no Novice or Tech|
|15M||21.000-21.200||21.200-21.450||Adv: no CW below 21.025, no phone below 21.225; Gen: no CW below 21.025, no phone below 21.275; Novice and Tech may use 21.025-21.200, CW only, 200 Watts|
|12M||24.890-24.930||24.930-24.990||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; no Novice or Tech|
|10M||28.000-28.300||28.300-29.700||Adv & Gen have same rights as Extra; Novice and Tech may use 28.000-28.300 for CW and 28.300-28.500 for USB phone, 200 Watts|
|6M||50.000-50.100||50.100-54.000||All classes except Novice have these rights|
|2M||144.000-144.100||144.100-148.000||All classes except Novice have these rights|
|1.25M||222.000-225.000||222.000-225.000||All classes have these rights, but Novices are restricted to 25 Watts||Also, digital message forwarding in 219.000-220.000, not Novice|
|70 cm||420.000-450.000||420.000-450.000||All classes except Novice have these rights|
|33 cm||902.000-928.000||902.000-928.000||All classes except Novice have these rights|
|23 cm||1240.000-1300.000||1240.000-1300.000||All classes have these rights, but Novices are restricted to 1270.000-1295.000 and 5 Watts|
Additionally, the following microwave bands may be used in all modes and by all classes except Novice:
- 2300-2310 MHz
- 2390-2450 MHz
- 3300-3500 MHz
- 5650-5925 MHz
- 10.0-10.5 GHz
- 24.0-24.25 GHz
- 47.0-47.2 GHz
- 76.0-81.0 GHz
- 122.25-123.0 GHz
- 134.0-141.0 GHz
- 241.0-250.0 GHz
- 275 GHz and up