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A vertically aligned multi-walled carbon nanotube (VACNT) film has been characterized by rectangular waveguide measurements. The complex scattering parameters (S-parameters) are measured by a vector network analyzer at X-band frequencies. The effective complex permittivity and permeability of the VACNT film have been extracted using the Nicolson-Ross-Weir (NWR) approach. The extracted parameters are verified by full wave simulations (CST - Microwave Studio) and very good agreement has been obtained. A systematic error analysis is presented and the errors are within the acceptable range. The performance of VACNT films as an absorber is examined, and comparison with the conventional carbon loaded materials shows that a 90% size reduction is possible whilst maintaining the same absorption level.