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ITU Radio Emissions Types / Modulation Designators

ITU Radio Emissions Types / Modulation Designators


The ITU, International Telecommunications Union uses an agreed set of codes or designations to easily and succinctly describe a format and modulation for a radio transmission.

The designators are used by many licencing authorities around the globe including the FCC in the USA. Accordingly they are often referred to as FCC emission designators.

These codes or emission designations are used in a variety of different areas including defining what types of transmission may be used in different portions of the radio spectrum in the ITU list agreed at the World Radio Conferences as well as defining radio transmission formats in licences and other documents.

The ITU radio emission designations define many aspects of the signal: the type of modulation, bandwidth and the type of information being carried. As such the type of radio emission, or transmission is defined in an exact manner. It should be noted that the designations describe the emission and not the transmitter or the system that is used.

The ITU designator system was agreed at the 1979 World Administrative Radio Conference, WARC 79, and superseded a previous system which has now completely fallen out of use. It is worth noting that the WARC was the old name for the conferences, they are now just called World Radio Conferences, WRC.

Radio emission types designators format

The ITU designations for the different types of radio emissions follows a standard format. This enables anyone using the system to quickly identify the parameters of the particular transmission. Although not all elements of the system may be used every time, it has been developed so that there is no ambiguity whatever part of the system for describing the types of radio emission is used.

The system has the following format:

BBBB 123 45

Where:
BBBB are characters that define the bandwidth
Character "1" is a letter indicating the type of modulation
Character "2" is a digit that indicates the type of modulating signal
Character "3" is a letter indicating the type of information being transmitted
Character "4" is an optional letter indicating the practical details of the transmitted information
Character "5" is an optional letter indicating details about any multiplexing, if used.

Tables for the different characters 1 to 5 are given below.

Bandwidth designator list

The bandwidth designator has the format of three digits that express the significant figures, and a letter used for the decimal point.

The letters used are:
H: indicates hertz
k: indicates kilohertz
M: indicates Megahertz
G: indicates Gigahertz

Examples may include 200H for a 200 Hz bandwidth transmission, 6K00 for a 6 kHz bandwidth, and 1M25 for a 1.25 MHz wide transmission, etc..

Character 1 - type of modulation

This character describes the format for the modulation itself. It provides information about the way in which the signal is superimposed onto the carrier.


List of Emission Designators for Character 1
Letter
indicator
Details
ADouble sideband, DSB, including DSB full carrier, i.e. amplitude modulation
BIndependent sideband, i.e. two sidebands present, each carrying different information
CVestigial sideband
DCombination of AM and FM or PM, either simultaneously or in a pre-established sequence
FFrequency modulation, FM
GPhase modulation, PM
HSingle sideband full carrier
JSingle sideband suppressed carrier, SSBSC
KPulse amplitude modulation, PAM
LPulse width modulation, PWM
MPulse position modulation, PPM
NUn-modulated carrier
PSeries of pulses without modulation
QSequence of pulses, phase or frequency modulation within each pulse
RSingle sideband with reduced or variable level carrier
VCombination of pulse modulation methods
WCombination of any of above
Xcases not covered by the above definitions

It is worth noting that frequency modulation and phase modulation may also be referred to by the generic term: "angle modulation."

Character 2 - type of modulating signal

This character of the ITU designations for radio emissions details the characteristics of the modulating signal. It provides information including whether the modulation is analogue or digital and whether there is one channel of information or more being carried.


List of Emission Designators for Character 2
Letter
indicator
Details
0No modulating signal
1One channel containing digital information without the use of modulating sub-carriers (excludes time division multiplex)
2One channel containing digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier (excludes time division multiplex)
3One channel containing analogue information
7More than one channel containing digital information
8More than one channel containing analogue information
9Combination of analogue and digital channels
Xcases not covered by the above

Character 3 - type of transmitted information

This character in the ITU designation of radio emissions details the type of information being carried. It provides some insight into the use and the way in which the information may be decoded.


List of Emission Designators for Character 3
Letter
indicator
Details
ATelegraphy for aural reception - e.g. Morse code
BTelegraphy for automatic reception, i.e. machine decoded
CFacsimile
DData transmission, telemetry or command
ETelephony, i.e. voice or music intended for human listening (including sound broadcasting)
FVideo - television
WAny combination of above
XNone of above

Character 4 - details of information

This character provides some insight into the format of the information - its coding and therefore the requirements for decoding he information once it has been demodulated.


List of Emission Designators for Character 4
Letter
indicator
Details
ATwo condition code - elements vary in quantity and duration
BTwo condition code - elements fixed in quantity and duration
CTwo condition code - elements vary in quantity and duration - error correction included
DFour-condition code in which each condition represents a signal element (or one or more bits)
EMulti-condition code in which each condition represents a signal element (of one or more bits)
FMulti condition code - one character represented by one or more conditions
GMonophonic broadcast quality sound
HStereophonic or quadraphonic broadcast quality sound
JCommercial, non-broadcast, quality sound (but excluding K & L below)
KSound of commercial quality with the use of frequency inversion and/or band-splitting employed
LSound of commercial quality with independent FM signals to control the level of the demodulated signal, e.g. pilot tones used to control demodulation process
MMonochrome images or video
NFull colour images or video
WCombination of the above
XCases not covered by the above descriptions

Character 5 - details of multiplexing

Increasingly radio channels are used to carry more than one stream of information, or they may be required to share the channel with other users or streams of information. This character in the ITU designation of radio transmissions provides information about any multiplexing.


List of Emission Designators for Character 5
Letter
indicator
Details
CCode-division multiplex (including code expansion techniques such as direct sequence spread spectrum)
FFrequency-division multiplex
NNone used
TTime-division multiplex
WCombination of frequency division and time division
XOther types of multiplexing - none of above

The list of radio emission designators is widely used, especially within licences and other documentation. The ITU emission designators provide an easy method of accurately defining the form of transmission that is being used.


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