Industrial, Scientific and Medical Radio Band

What Does Industrial, Scientific and Medical Radio Band Mean?

The industrial, scientific, and medical radio band (ISM band) refers to a group of radio bands or parts of the radio spectrum that are internationally reserved for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy intended for scientific, medical and industrial requirements rather than for communications. ISM bands are generally open frequency bands, which vary according to different regions and permits.


The 2.54 GHz ISM band is a commonly accepted band for worldwide operations. Microwave ovens, cordless phones, medical diathermy machines, military radars and industrial heaters are just some of the equipment that makes use of this ISM band.

ISM bands are also called unlicensed bands.

Techopedia Explains Industrial, Scientific and Medical Radio Band

The use of ISM equipment generates electromagnetic interference that interrupts radio communications that make use of the same frequency. Therefore, this equipment was restricted to specific frequency bands. Generally, the communication equipment that operates in these bands should tolerate the interference created by ISM equipment, and therefore users do not have any regulatory protection from the use of ISM equipment.

In spite of the real purpose of ISM bands, there has been rapid growth in its use in low-power, short-range communications platforms. Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, Wi-Fi computer networks, and NFC devices all make use of ISM bands. In 1985, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opened the ISM bands for use in mobile communications and wireless LANs. In 1997, it incorporated supplementary bands in the 5 GHz range, referred to as the Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII). The HIPERLAN wireless LANs of Europe make use of the same 5 GHz bands known as the Broadband Radio Access Network.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.