Longwave can also refer to the economics concept called Kondratiev waves, also called cycles, surges, or K-waves.

Longwave radio frequencies are those below 500 kHz, which correspond to wavelengths longer than 600 meters. They have the property of following the curvature of the earth, making them ideal for continuous, continental communications. Unlike shortwave radio, longwave signals do not reflect or refract using the ionosphere, so there are fewer phase-caused fadeouts.

The earliest radio transmitters, including the Alexanderson alternator, were all longwave transmitters.



In Europe, North Africa and Asia, longwave radio frequencies between 153 and 279 kHz are used for domestic and international broadcasting.

Radio navigation

In the Americas, frequencies between 200 and 430 kHz are used for non-directional beacons (NDBs), and do not necessarily follow the same 9 kHz spacing that other areas do.

Standard time signals

In the frequency range 40-80 kHz, there are several standard time and frequency stations, such as

  • JJY in Japan (40 and 60 kHz)
  • MSF in Rugby, England (60 kHz)
  • WWVB in Colorado, USA (60 kHz)
  • HBG in Prangins, Switzerland (75 kHz)
  • DCF77 near Frankfurt am Main, Germany (77.5 kHz)

In Europe and Japan, many low-cost consumer devices have since the late 1980s contained radio clocks with an LF receiver for these signals, which penetrate buildings more effectively than those in higher frequency bands. In North America, such devices became feasible for the mass market only after the output power of WWVB was increased in 1997 and 1999.


Radio signals below 50 kHz are capable of penetrating ocean depths to approximately 200 meters. The United States, Russian, British, Swedish, and Indian navies communicate with submarines on these frequencies.

In addition, Royal Navy nuclear submarines carrying ballistic missiles are allegedly under standing orders to monitor the BBC Radio 4 transmission on 198 kHz in waters near the U.K. It is rumoured that they are to construe a sudden halt in transmission as an indicator that the U.K. is under attack, whereafter their sealed orders take effect.


In North America there is a special amateur radio in the longwave range called LowFER.


As aerials are usually used: mast radiators which are fed at the bottom and which are insulated against ground, mast antennas fed by the guy ropes (such masts are usually grounded), T-aerials, L-aerials and long wire aerials. In future the use of crossed field antenna is to be expected, if claims for their efficiency are proven.

T-aerials and L-aerials are depending on the requirements mounted on as well grounded as insulated masts or towers.

The height of aerials differ from usage: for NDBs the height is just around 10 metres, while for more powerful navigation transmitters as DECCA masts with a height around 100 metres are used. T-aerials have a height between 50 and 200 metres, while mast aerials are usually taller than 150 metres.

The height of mast aerials for LORAN-C is around 190 metres for such with radiation powers below 500 kW and around 400 metres for such with powers more than 1,000 kilowatts. The first type of LORAN-C aerials is insulated against ground.

Longwave broadcasting stations use mast antennas with heights of more than 150 metres or T-aerials. The mast antennas can be ground-fed insulated masts or upper-fed grounded masts. It is also possible to use cage aerials on grounded masts.

Nearly all longwave aerials are not as high as one quarter of the radiated wavelength. The only longwave transmission aerial realized with a height corresponding to a half radiated wavelength was Warszaw Radio Mast.

For broadcasting stations often directional aerials are required. They consist of multiple masts, which need not to be the same height. Some longwave aerials consist of multiple mast antennas arranged in a circle with or without a mast antenna in the centre. Such aerials focus the transmitted power toward ground and gave a large zone of fade-free reception. Because they are very expensive, they are rarely used. One aerial of this kind was used by transmitter Orlunda in Sweden.

Longwave transmitting antennas take up large amounts of space, and have been the cause of controversy in the United States and Europe due to fears over proximity to high-power radio waves.

List of longwave broadcasting transmitters

List of the most important longwave broadcasting transmitters (Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langwelle  (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langwelle)).

Frequency Name of transmitter Country Location Kind of aerial Power Remarks
153 kHz Deutschlandfunk Germany Donebach directional aerial, two guyed steel framework masts, 363 m high, fed at the top 500 kW night 250 kW
Radio Romania Romania Brasov 1200 kW  
NRK Finnmark Norway Ingoy omnidirectional aerial, guyed steel framework mast of 362 m height 100 kW  
162 kHz France Inter France Allouis two guyed steel framework masts, height 350 m, fed on the top 2000 kW  
171 kHz Radio Medi Morocco Nador 2000 kW  
Radio Rossiya Russia Kaliningrad 1200 kW  
177 kHz DeutschlandRadio Berlin Germany Zehlendorf near Oranienburg cage aerial mounted on 359.7 m high guyed mast, triangle aerial on 3 150 m high guyed steel framework masts 500 kW  
183 kHz Europe 1 Germany Felsberg directional aerial, 4 insulated guyed steel framework masts, heights: 282 m, 280 m, 26 m and 270 m 2000 kW French Program
189 kHz RUV Iceland Hellissandur omnidirectional aerial, guyed steel framework mast, height 412 m 300 kW
189 kHz RAI Italia Caltanissetta omnidirectional aerial, guyed steel framework mast, height 282 m 10 kW inactive since August 2004
198 kHz BBC Radio 4 United Kingdom Droitwich T-aerial on 2 guyed steel framework masts with a height of 213 metre 500 kW BBC World Service
BBC Radio 4 United Kingdom Burghead Guyed steel framework mast 50 kW  
BBC Radio 4 United Kingdom Westerglen Guyed steel framework mast, height 152 m 50 kW  
Radio Polonia Poland Raszyn Guyed insulated mast, 335 m high 500 kW only active at daytime
207 kHz Deutschlandfunk Germany Aholming directional aerial, two guyed steel framework masts, 265 m high, fed at the top 500 kW night 250 kW
216 kHz Radio Monte Carlo France Roumoules directional aerial, 3 300 metre high guyed steel framework masts, 330 metre high guyed steel framework mast as backup aerial 1200 kW Transmitter site exterritorial, exclave of Monaco
225 kHz Radio Polonia Poland Solec Kujawski 2 guyed radio masts fed on the top, heights 330 m and 289 m 1000 kW Earlier tranmitter site Konstantynow
234 kHz RTL Luxemburg Beidweiler directional aerial, 3 guyed grounded steel framework masts, 290 m high, with vertikal cage aerials 2000 kW Spare transmitter site Junglinster
243 kHz Danmarks Radio Danmark Kalundborg Alexanderson aerial, carried from 2 118 Meter high freestanding steel framework towers 300 kW  
252 kHz RTA Algier Algeria Tipaza 1500 kW French programme; during nighttime half transmitter-power
RTÉ Radio 1 Ireland Clarkestown Guyed steel framework mast, insulated against ground, height 248 m 500 kW Earlier used by Atlantic 252 and TeamTalk 252
261 kHz Transmitter Burg Germany Burg Cage aerial on 324 m high guyed steel framework mast, 210 m high steel tube mast, insulated against ground, omnidirectional radiation 200 kW inactive at the moment, former used by Radio Wolga and Radioropa Info
Radio Rossiya Russia Taldom 2500 kW Most powerful transmitter in the world
270 kHz ČRO 1 - Radiožurnál Czech Republic Topolna two grounded guyed steel framework mast with cage aerials, height 257 m, directional radiation with maximum of radiation in East-West direction 500 kW  
279 kHz Musicmann279 Isle of Man ± 5 km off Ramsey Crossed field antenna 500 kW Tests planned to begin in early 2005 pending a summer 2005 launch
BR1 Belarus Minsk 500 kW  

See also

External links

Radio spectrum
3 Hz | 30 Hz | 300 Hz | 3 kHz | 30 kHz | 300 kHz | 3 MHz | 30 MHz | 300 MHz | 3 GHz | 30 GHz | 300 GHz




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