U.S. Registration

Within the U.S., radio transmissions below 300 GHz must be authorized. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a Bureau of the Department of Commerce, regulates Federal Government spectrum uses, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates non-government uses of the spectrum. Spectrum users must register active transmitters through one of these two agencies. NTIA maintains the Government Master File (GMF), a listing of the characteristics of all government stations, and all other stations that operate in shared government and non-government bands. The FCC has sole jurisdiction over bands used exclusively by the private sector, such as the TV or FM radio bands.

In the U.S. radio astronomy stations (or stations in the other passive services: the Earth Exploration Satellite Service (passive) (EESS-passive) and the Space Research Service (passive) (SRS- passive)) do not require authorization and are not required to be registered, but may do so if they wish.


Registration of passive stations is recommended, as it offers several advantages:

  • Protection from interference when observations are conducted in bands allocated to the Radio Astronomy Service. The U.S. Table of Allocation may be accessed at:

  • Listing in the GMF, which allows a radio astronomy observatory to be taken into account by those planning to establish new transmitters in its vicinity.

  • Listing in the GMF also allows some measure of usage by the service. This is particularly important for radio astronomy and other passive services, not readily noticeable to active users of the spectrum by other means.

  • While radio astronomy stations may be registered for observations outside bands allocated to radio astronomy, such registration DOES NOT provide rights to protection against harmful interference from other services.

Where to Register?

Institutions supported directly by the Federal government (e.g. Arecibo Observatory, the NRAO, or antennas used for radio astronomy purposes in NASA's Deep Space Network) are considered government users for purposes of spectrum management and must apply for registration through the supporting Government Agency (NSF or NASA). University observatories that are not directly controlled by the Federal Government (even if they are supported by grants) are considered private sector institutions and must apply for registration through the FCC. Radio observatories supported by the NSF should register radio astronomy stations through the:

      Electromagnetic Spectrum Manager          E-mail: esm@nsf.gov
      National Science Foundation                     Phone: 703-292-4896
      4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 1045          FAX: 703-292-9034
      Arlington, VA 22230

Other government-supported observatories must register through the Spectrum Management offices of their respective agencies.

Private sector users (e.g. university or high school observatories) may register through the FCC. They should contact:

            Ms. Kathryn Hosford
            FCC FAS Representative
            Office of Engineering and Technology
            Federal Communications Commission
            445 12th Street SW
            Washington, DC 20554
            E-mail: Kathryn.Hosford@fcc.gov
            Phone: (202) 418-0652

How to Register?

All applicants must submit certain data and the applications must follow an established format. The Manual of Regulations & Procedures for Federal Frequency Management, Chapter 9

describes in detail the data and format required to submit an application. The data and format required for an application are identical for government and private sector submissions. A separate application is required for each receiver.

CORF Notification

The Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF) of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academy of Sciences maintains a list of radio observatories around the world. All applicants for registration please notify the Committee by e-mail at: