What Is Radio Frequency

Electromagnetic Waves That Move at the Speed of Light

Wavelength Radio frequency consists of electromagnetic waves that oscillate in the radio spectrum at frequencies of 3kHz to 300 GHz. Electromagnetic radiation consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (radiating) through space at the speed of light. RF waves are characterized by a wavelength and a frequency. Wavelength is the distance covered by one complete cycle of the electromagnetic wave. Frequency is the number of electromagnetic waves that occur within a certain amount of time. Frequency is expressed in Hertz, which is one cycle per second (one megahertz equals one million cycles per second). The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength.

RF is generated by a transmitter and detected by a receiver. The transmitter antenna turns electrical signals into radio waves, giving it the ability to travel long distances. The receiver antenna catches the radio waves and turns them back into electrical signals, which feed into a radio, television, telephone, etc. The electrons in the electric current move back and forth along the antenna, which creates electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio waves. RF connectors are used to transmit RF over signal wires. The connectors create reliable communication channels and/or link together multiple systems allowing the communicative capabilities to grow.


Radio frequency interference occurs when unwanted radio frequency signals disrupt the use of the television, radio, cordless phone, etc. Interference can prevent reception altogether, cause only a temporary loss of a signal, or affect the quality of sound or picture produced by the equipment. The two most common causes are transmitters and electrical equipment. Amateur radios, Citizens Band Radio, radio and television stations can transmit signals that are capable of generating interference. Electrical equipment can also have inadequate shielding or frayed/corroded wires, which can also cause radio frequency interference.

Radio Frequency Applications

Telecommunication Services

  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Cellular telephones
  • Radio communications for police and fire departments
  • Amateur radio
  • Satellite communications

Non-Communication Applications

  • Microwave ovens
  • Radar
    • Traffic enforcement
    • Air traffic control
    • Military
  • Industrial heating and sealing
    • Molding plastic materials
    • Gluing wood products
    • Sealing items, such as shoes and pocketbooks
    • Processing food products
  • Medical
    • MRI
    • Cosmetic treatments

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