Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
the research laboratory of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

What We Do

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) is the research and engineering laboratory of NTIA. We perform advanced communications research to inform spectrum policy and develop capabilities to solve emerging telecommunications issues. We serve as a principal Federal resource for solving the telecommunications concerns of other Federal agencies, state and local Governments, industry, and international organizations. We work to continually advance the state of the art in radio frequency (RF) propagation measurement, RF propagation modeling, spectrum monitoring and enforcement, electromagnetic compatibility analysis, interference mitigation strategies, evaluation of end-user experience, and engineering analysis of evolving technologies to manage and share spectrum efficiently. Learn more about ITS on our YouTube Channel or read about our research programs in the FY 2017 Technical Progress Report.


May 9, 2019

ITS has a long history of leadership in air-to-ground propagation model development within the International Telecommunications Union – Radiocommunication Sector’s (ITU-R) Study Group 3 – Radiowave Propagation (and its...

March 10, 2019

How can we get more use out of the radio spectrum? One way is by sharing radio bands between users who have never shared before. Consider radio frequencies near 3.5 GHz. Until recently, that part of the spectrum was...

November 26, 2018

Behind every initiative to share spectrum are models of how radio waves in a particular band propagate through different environments. How far will a signal travel before it becomes too faint to be useful or...

August 7, 2018

The record attendance (nearly 170 experts from government, academia, and industry) at the 17th International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) demonstrated the deep interest in the problem of modeling...

April 24, 2018

As demand for spectrum for commercial use continues to grow, policymakers are exploring spectrum sharing as a way to expand capacity while still fulfilling the needs of federal agencies. This model can work only if rules...

New Publications

This Month in ITS History

June 1961: First Topside Sounder Rocket Launched

At 11:17 PM on June 24, 1961, NASA launched a Javelin missile from Wallops Island, VA. The Javelin contained an ionospheric sounder created by the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL). The sounder used radio waves to examine the atmosphere it was passing through. The sounder acted like a radar, measuring the width and density of the ionosphere, the plasma rich outer layer of the atmosphere. By measuring the ionosphere CRPL hoped to better understand it, and specifically its impact on radio transmission. At certain frequencies, radio waves bounce off the ionosphere and travel further than they would in a straight line. Short wave radio waves can travel around the world in this fashion. The Javelin launch was CRPL’s first foray into space flight. The project was successful, and it spawned many more. By 1964, CRPL had helped launch a sounding satellite known as TOPSI and assisted in the launch of the Canadian satellite Allouette. These satellites acted much like the Javelin rocket had, but they could sound the ionosphere from above. Today ITS continues the work of CRPL in investigating radio propagation. ITS also continues to work with NASA and other agencies to improve the outcomes of space flight.