Why are GNSS Carrier Signals in the L-Band?

The L band, as defined by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), is the 1 to 2 GHz range of the radio spectrum. The L band consists of two components, Aviation Radio Navigation Service (ARNS) and Radio Navigation Satellite Service (RNSS) and is utilized in many radar, satellite and terrestrial communications applications.


The L band has several advantages which marks it suitable for GNSSs. The L band has a low bandwidth due to its low frequency range. As a result, it is not suitable for streaming applications like video, voice and broadband connectivity. The L band waves penetrate clouds, fog, rain, storms, and vegetation, GNSS receivers can track the L Band signal in most weather conditions. The primary limitation of the L band signal is its inability to penetrate solid objects such as concrete buildings.

The GNSS carrier frequency to transport the data signals were required to meet the following requirements:

  • Frequencies should be below 2 GHz, as frequencies above 2 GHz would require beam antennae for the signal reception.
  • Ionospheric delays are significant for frequency below 1,000 MHz and above 10 GHz.
  • PRN codes require a high bandwidth for code modulation on the carrier frequency. Therefore, a range of high frequencies with the possibility of a high bandwidth had to be chosen.
  • Selected frequency should be in a range where the signal propagation is not influenced by weather phenomena like rain, snow, or clouds.
Garrett Seepersad
Garrett Seepersad
Enabling access to affordable high precision positioning and navigation.

GNSS measurement processing specialist (aka PPP and RTK positioning).