Radio-wave communications signals travel through the air in a straight line, reflect off of clouds or layers of the ionosphere , or are relayed by satellites in space.
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They are used in standard broadcast radio and television , shortwave radio , navigation and air-traffic control , cellular telephony , and even remote-controlled toys. For a fuller treatment, see electromagnetic radiation: Radio waves.
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The propagation of medium radio waves in the ionosphere
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Radio wave s are used for wireless transmission of sound messages, or information, for communication, as well as for maritime…. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Radio waves oscillate at frequencies between a few kilohertz kHz or thousands of hertz and a few terahertz THz or hertz.
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Microwaves have wavelengths between a few millimeters and tens of centimeters tenths of inches to tens of inches. Various frequencies of radio waves are used for television and FM and AM radio broadcasts, military communications, mobile phones, ham radio, wireless computer networks, and numerous other communications applications.
Most radio waves pass freely through Earth's atmosphere.
However, some frequencies can be reflected or absorbed by the charged particles in the ionosphere. Skip to main content. Radio Waves.