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Absolute radio-frequency channel number

In GSM cellular networks, an absolute

radio-frequency channel number (ARFCN) is a code
that specifies a pair of physical radio carriers
used for transmission and reception in a land mobile
radio system, one for the uplink signal and one for
the downlink signal. ARFCNs for GSM are defined in
Specification 45.005 Section 2. There are also other
variants of the ARFCN numbering scheme that are in
use for other systems that are not GSM. One such
example is the TETRA system that has 25 kHz channel
spacing and uses different base frequencies for

Different frequencies (ARFCNs) are used for the

frequency-based component of GSMs multiple access
scheme (FDMA — frequency-division multiple access).
Uplink/downlink channel pairs in GSM are identified
by ARFCN. Together with the time-based component
(TDMA — time-division multiple access) the physical
channel is defined by selecting a certain ARFCN and
a certain time slot. Note not to confuse this
physical channel with the logical channels (e.g.
BCCH — Broadcast Control Channel) that are
time-multiplexed onto it under the rules of GSM
Specification 05.03.


1 ARFCN table for common GSM systems

2 Other versions of ARFCN
2.1 Example ARFCN for TETRA
3 See also
4 References

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ARFCN table for common GSM systems

This table shows the common channel numbers and

corresponding uplink and downlink frequencies
associated with a particular ARFCN, as well as the
way to calculate the frequency from the ARFCN number
and vice versa.

Observe this table only deals with GSM systems.

There are other mobile telecommunications systems
that do use ARFCN to number their channels, but they
may use different offsets, channel spacing and so
Band Designation ARFCN fUL fDL
GSM 500 GSM 450 259-293
450.6 + 0.2·(n-259) fUL(n) + 10
GSM 480 306-340 479.0 +
0.2·(n-306)[1] fUL(n) + 10
GSM 700 GSM 750 438-511
747.2 + 0.2·(n-438)[2] fUL(n) + 30
GSM 850 GSM 850 128-251
824.2 + 0.2·(n-128) fUL(n) + 45
GSM 900 P-GSM 1-124 890.0 +
0.2·n fUL(n) + 45
E-GSM 0-124
975-1023 890.0 + 0.2·n
890.0 + 0.2·(n-1024) fUL(n) + 45
GSM-R 0-124
955-1023 890.0 + 0.2·n
890.0 + 0.2·(n-1024) fUL(n) + 45
GSM 1800 DCS 1800 512-885
1710.2 + 0.2·(n-512) fUL(n) + 95
GSM 1900 PCS 1900 512-810
1850.2 + 0.2·(n-512) fUL(n) + 80
Other versions of ARFCN

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TETRA uses different channel spacing compared to GSM
systems. The standard is 25 kHz spacing and the
center frequency of each channel may be offset in a
number of fashions such as ±12.5 kHz or even ±6.25
kHz. This makes it more tricky to correlate the
ARFCN strictly to a pair of frequencies, you need to
know the specifics of the system. Also the duplex
spacing is generally 10 MHz in TETRA although other
versions are available for certain applications.

In TETRA the ARFCN is always given for the downlink

frequency, the uplink is by standard 10 MHz lower in
frequency than the downlink frequency.

In UMTS for 3G and 4G mobile telephone systems,

ARFCN is replaced with UARFCN and EARFCN which are
simpler and always has a direct relation between the
frequency and the channel number.
Example ARFCN for TETRA

In many countries in Europe there is a standardised

set of frequencies used for blue light services i.e.
the police, firebrigade, rescue and so on. This set
of frequencies correspond to ARFCN with a base of
300 MHz and an offset of 12.5 kHz.

To calculate the ARFCN from frequency the following

method is used:

A R F C N = f - f b - f o f c {\displaystyle \mathrm
{ARFCN} ={\frac {f-f_{b}-f_{o}}{f_{c}}}} {\mathrm
{ARFCN}}={\frac {f-f_{b}-f_{o}}{f_{c}}}


f is the actual frequency [MHz]

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fb is the base frequency [MHz]
fo is the offset frequency [MHz]
fc is the channel spacing frequency [MHz]

The range of frequencies used in these tetra systems

are defined by 380-385 MHz for the uplink (mobile to
radio base station) paired with 390-395 MHz for the
downlink (radio base station to mobile). Therefore,
the base frequency fb is 300 MHz (the baseband
frequency to relate from) and the offset is 0.0125
MHz (12.5 kHz) and thus we get the relation:

A R F C N = f - 300 - 0.0125 0.025 {\displaystyle

\mathrm {ARFCN} ={\frac {f-300-0.0125}{0.025}}}
{\mathrm {ARFCN}}={\frac {f-300-0.0125}{0.025}}

Inseting the frequency for the first channel

390.00125 MHz gives us an ARFCN of 3600.

Calculating the frequency from ARFCN is just the

reverse of this:

f = f c · A R F C N + f b + f o {\displaystyle
f=f_{c}\cdot \mathrm {ARFCN} +f_{b}+f_{o}}
f=f_{c}\cdot {\mathrm {ARFCN}}+f_{b}+f_{o}
See also

Mobile Allocation Index Offset


3GPP Specification detail TS 05.05 Specification

3GPP TS 05.05 Radio Transmission and Reception.

3GPP Specification detail TS 45.005

Specification 3GPP TS 45.005 Radio Transmission and

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GSM standard

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