What is UHF?

Malcolm Tatum

Short for ultra high frequency, UHF is one of the two standard ranges of electromagnetic waves that were set aside for the use of broadcast television in the first half of the twentieth century. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission set aside a specific spectrum of radio waves that would provide access to local television stations. Today, those same bands are still in use, and also serve several other functions as well.

A UHF RFID scanner.
A UHF RFID scanner.

UHF television broadcasts are included in the ultra high frequency spectrum of wave frequency that covers a range from 300 megahertz to 3.0 gigahertz. Initially, three specific bands were set aside for the use of television broadcasts. The range of 54 to 88 megahertz provided room for broadcast as channels one through six. A frequency of 174 to 216 megahertz covered channels seven through thirteen. The final band of UHF frequency used a frequency in the 470 to 890 megahertz range for channels from fourteen to eighty-three.

Over time, UHF broadcasts on the two lower bands were discontinued, with channels two through thirteen broadcasting with the utilization of VHF technology. UHF bands for broadcast television continued for a number of years using the third band. The advent of mass cable television and more recently the use of Internet technology had made it possible for broadcast television to continue without necessarily having to rely on a strict delineation to the traditional UHF band.

However, UHF radio technology is not completely outmoded. In fact, UHF radio waves are still active and have a place in today’s world. Continuing to provide the ability for broadcast television to reach areas that do not have access to cable, other communication devices make use of radio waves of this type. Cell phones, as an example, often make use of a limited range of UHF signals, ranging in the 316 MHz to 3.16 GHz portion of the spectrum.

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