Department of Commerce


Office of Radio Frequency Management

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About Us

The Office of Radio Frequency Management (ORFM) represents the Department of Commerce (DOC) and its various elements in several fora, including the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC, see below) and its various subcommittees; in discussions with other government agencies where there are issues requiring resolution; at meetings of international organizations dealing with frequency matters, including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU, see below.), OAS Commission for Inter-American Telecommunications (CITEL, see below), Space Frequency Coordination Group (SFCG) and a Steering Group on Radio Frequency Coordination of the World Meteorological Organization.

Note: This office is responsible for Radio Frequency Spectrum management issues for the United States Department of Commerce. If you have questions or need a contact point regarding other subjects related to Radio Frequency or other telecommunication issues, please see the list of websites provided at the end of this website.

N.B. - The WWW addresses of a number of the organizations referred to are given below for those who wish further information about them.

Within the DOC, the largest user of radio is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA includes the National Weather Service (NWS) as well as some less well known but similarly important organizations as the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) which operates NOAA's fleet of weather satellites; the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) which develops new atmospheric research tools; the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which maintains seafood and fisheries regulations; and the National Ocean Service (NOS) which supports the oceanic environment rules, hydrographic science and ocean mapping.

Meteorology -- the science of weather -- depends heavily on radio, hence depends on the radio spectrum. Radio signals are used for weather radar, radiosondes (one type of meteorological aid), weather satellites, wind profiling, and many other methods of gathering weather related information. They are also used to distribute weather information to the public, as by NOAA Weather Radio (NWR).

Originally, radio technology was called 'wireless telegraphy', which was shortened to 'wireless'. The identity of the original inventor of radio, at the time called wireless telegraphy, is contentious. The controversy over who invented the radio, with the benifit of hindsight, can be summed up with the answer to who invented 'wireless transmission of data'? Nikola tesla holds the US patent for this. The founding principles and inventions of wireless technology can be found in the lectures and patent record of the electrical engineer Tesla. It was also later pioneered by Jagdish Chandra Bose and Guglielmo Marconi. A wireless set was the radio receiver, referring to its use as a wireless telecommunication station.

In modern usage, wireless is a method of communication that uses low-powered radio waves to transmit data between devices. The term refers to communication without cables or cords, chiefly using radio frequency and infrared waves. Common uses include the various communications defined by the IrDA and the wireless networking of computers.

Low-powered radio waves, such as those used in networking to transmit data between devices, are often unregulated. High powered transmission sources usually require government licenses to broadcast on a specific wavelength. This platform has historically carried voice and has grown into a large industry, carrying many thousands of boradcasts around the world. Radio waves are now increasingly being used by unregulated computer useres. Optimal bandwidth routing within wireless networks requires the calculation in real-time of the best way to direct traffic.

You may already know a great deal about frequency management, but most people don't. If it's a new subject to you, you're not alone. This page is here to provide information on the meteorological use of radio, on the present and potential impact on weather forecasting of some of the things that are happening today in the field of radio. We have a series of tutorials. For those getting in on the ground floor, we define the more common terms used in the field and talk about some of the players: the organizations and industries that affect, or are expected to affect meteorology. For those who are already familiar with the subject and want to go directly to a discussion of some of the more serious spectrum issues affecting NOAA and meteorology in general, we have that too. 


 First, the background material:

What is the IRAC ?

What is the NTIA ?

What is the ITU ?

What is CITEL?


Now, let's deal with some issues...

What bands are important to meteorology?

What industry trends are placing pressure on these bands?

What impact can this have on met users?

What impact can this have on met industry?


Our Tools
1. Spectrum XXI (SXXI)

The SXXI software was developed under the management and direction of the Department of Defense Joint Spectrum Center (JSC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). SXXI was developed to fulfill a need to automate many processes and to standardize the spectrum management processes throughout the Federal Government. At least one capability of each module contained in SXXI is listed below.

SXXI contains the following modules:

1. Frequency Assignment

  - Stores, retrieves, and outputs databases for frequency records in both Standard Frequency Action Format (SFAF) and Government Master File (GMF) views

2. Data Exchange

  - Performs an automated exchange of frequency records between the Client computer and the Spectrum XXI server(s)

3. System Manager

  - Purge the Frequency Assignment Database, among other functions

4. Topoman

  - Create new topographic data files from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Source Level 1 Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) Compact Disc's (CDs)

5. Interference Analysis

  - Perform an analysis on a frequency that has interference to determine the potential interference from existing transmitters or to existing receivers

6. Interference Report

  - Create new interference reports and output them to the printer or to a file compatible with the Defense Messaging System

7. Engineering Tools

  - Perform a Point-to-Point (path profile) Link Analysis

8. Spectrum Certification System

  - Contains two tools:

  - Data Maintenance and Retrieval (DMR) - Create, edit, query, and output Spectrum Certification Records (DD-1494)

  - Analysis Tools (AT) - Perform engineering checks for Spectrum Certification records to ensure that the equipment parameters are within the band limitations and contraints.

9. Joint Restricted Frequency List (JRFL) Editor

  - Create, edit, import, and export a JRFL

10. EW Deconfliction

  - Predict and analyze frequency conflicts from the effects of EW jamming

11. Allotment Plan Generator

  - Create, edit, export, import, output, and delete allotment plans (or channel plans)

12. Compliance

  - Run validation and allocation table checks on frequency records stored on a file.



2. NTIA Government Master File

The Government Master File (GMF) contains records of the frequencies assigned to all US Federal Government agencies in the US and its possessions. The master file is updated daily.


 Go to the or (Home)



Our Services
Frequency Assignments

Each NOAA bureau and each DOC component organization has a designated liaison through which operational units within DOC request frequency assignments. Each liaison forwards the request for frequency assignments to ORFM for completion and submission to NTIA. A list of the DOC/NOAA frequency liaisons is given below. Proposals for frequency assignments are submitted electronically by ORFM to NTIA. Each member agency on the Frequency Assignment Subcommittee (FAS) reviews each proposal along with the NTIA action officer assigned to that proposal. Each person reviewing the proposal looks for conformance with the NTIA Manual of Regulations and Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management.

Each agency representative is also looking at each proposal for potential interference to his agency's present operations. Upon approval on a frequency assignment by the FAS, NTIA issues a radio frequency authorization for that assignment and the assignment is recorded in the NTIA Government Master File (GMF) of Frequency Assignments.

Frequency Reviews

Commerce, like all other member agencies, manages its existing frequency assignments in the GMF. Experimental assignments are only granted authority for a limited time, and ORFM works with the appropriate liaison either to allow existing assignments to expire if no longer in operation or to request renewal by NTIA for continuing experimental operations. Permanent operational assignments are required to be reviewed every five years for accuracy and retention. ORFM has ongoing procedures to work with each liaison to review and update each assignment as appropriate.


How to Contact Us
The address and telephone numbers for the office are:
Office of Radio Frequency Management
Room 10601, SSMC-3
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 713-1853
Fax: (301) 713-1861

James L. Mentzer -
David Franc -
Scott E. Jackson -
Carmelo Rivera -

U.S. Dept of Commerce Administrative Order 201-39 establishes the requirement for all Commerce departmental offices requiring radio communication to designate a liaison representative with this office on radio frequency matters. Click below to find the various liaisons:

Other Department of Commerce Contacts And Websites

Or (Home)


Pertinent Meeting Schedule


Meeting Title




El Salvador, San Salvador

5/16 - 5/20/07



5/23 - 5/31/07


Geneva, Switzerland

6/13 - 6/21/07


Geneva, Switzerland

6/25 - 6/26/07


Orlando, Florida

7/30 - 8/03/07

World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07)

Geneva, Switzerland

10/22 - 11/16/07

Conference Preparatory Meeting


Geneva, Switzerland

11/19 - 11/21/07

If you would like to see a list of all of the ITU events scheduled go to:


  Links of Interest

Basic Elements of Spectrum Management

International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA)

Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL)

Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

U. S. Department of Commerce (DOC)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

National Weather Service (NWS)

Lloyd's Satellite Constellations


Carmelo Rivera

(301) 713-1853 Ext 183

Room 10601, SSMC-3

1315 East-West Highway

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Webmaster, Carmelo Rivera
Revised -- 04/2007