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Background Paper:
Radio Frequency Spectrum Allocations in the United States

The 2003 NTIA spectrum chart

Prepared by Norbert Schroeder and Mel Murray
Last revised December 2005

The United States Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) spectrum chart, dated October 2003, depicts the radio frequency spectrum allocations to radio services operated within the United States. This chart graphically partitions the radio frequency spectrum, extending from 9 kHz to 300 GHz, into over 450 frequency bands, and uses distinct colors to distinguish the allocations for the thirty different radio services.

Copies of this chart can be viewed on line at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.html; and printed copies of this chart are available from the U.S. Government Printing Office (ph: 202 512 1800; stock #: 003-000-00691-3 cost is: $9.00 each for deliveries with the US and $12.60 each for deliveries outside the US.).

Under the provisions of the United States Communications Act of 1934, as revised, authority for managing the use within the United States of the radio frequency spectrum is partitioned between the NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Therefore, to establish which radio services will be allowed to operate in the United States in a given frequency band requires that radio frequency spectrum management policies be established by both the NTIA and the FCC. The chart uses three colors to identify those portions of the spectrum that are managed jointly by the FCC and NTIA, and those portions that are managed exclusively either by the NTIA or by the FCC.

Under the provisions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) treaty the U.S. is obligated to comply with the spectrum allocations specified in the ITU Radio Regulations' Article 5 (International Table of Frequency Allocations). However, U.S. domestic spectrum uses may differ from the international allocations provided these domestic uses do not conflict with our neighbors' spectrum uses that do comply with international regulations or bi-lateral agreements.

The current spectrum chart, dated October 2003, measures 30 by 40 inches and replaces a similar chart that was last printed by NTIA in 1996. The current chart presents in summary, graphical form the detailed allocations information contained in the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations found in both i) the NTIA Manual (Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management , Chapter 4) and ii) the FCC Rules (47 CFR part 2). The 2003 chart depicts the allocations decisions that were made by the NTIA and the FCC up to July 1, 2003. Because thirty different U.S. radio services are allocated portions of the spectrum in over 450 separate frequency bands, many allocations issues quickly become quite complex. Through the use of graphics and multiple colors, an attempt has been made to provide a tool that a widely diverse audience will find useful in gaining a general understanding of the United States domestic spectrum allocations policies.

Copies of i) the 2003 chart (stock #: 003-000-00691-3 cost: $4.25); and ii) the NTIA Manual (stock #: 903-008-00000-8 cost: $342.00) are available from the Government Printing Office---

Place phone orders and make inquiries at (202) 512-1800. Place fax-on-demand orders with Faxwatch at (202) 512-1716

For further information on the chart you may contact Thomas F. Woods Jr., NTIA/Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, ph: 202-482-1132, e-mail: fassec@ntia.doc.gov.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration serves as the principal adviser to the President, on domestic and international communications and information issues. NTIA also represents the views of the Executive Branch before the Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, foreign governments, and international organizations.


Link to NTIA Manual of Frequency Management

Link to US Frequency Allocation Chart

Link to US Frequency Allocation Chart

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