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.

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 radio...

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...

February 23, 2018

The Radio Act of 1912 dictated perhaps the first spectrum efficiency requirement when it said that “In all circumstances, except in case of signals or radiograms relating to vessels in distress, all stations shall...

February 6, 2018

Spectrum monitoring—long-term continuous measurement of the radio frequency environment from multiple sensors—is widely seen as essential to enabling increased exploitation of spectrum. Monitoring is expected be the...

New Publications

This Month in ITS History

February 1927: Federal Radio Commission Established

On February 23, 1927 President Calvin Coolidge signed Public Law 69-632. This law, which became known as the Radio Act of 1927, superseded the previous Radio Act of 1912. The 1912 act, which focused on maritime radio, had put the power of regulation squarely in the hands of the Secretary of Commerce; the new act created a Federal Radio Commission to regulate the use of all radio frequency in the U.S. In their first report the Commission described the change and enumerated some of their duties: “A wholly new Federal body was called into being to deal with a condition which had become almost hopelessly involved during the months following July 3, 1926, when it became clear that the Department of Commerce had no authority under the 1912 radio law to allocate frequencies, withhold radio licenses, or regulate power or hours of transmission.” (FRC July 1, 1927) The Federal Radio Commission listened to conflicting claims to frequencies and weighed public opinion; they became known for withholding radio licenses from broadcasters in their zeal to “bring order out of chaos, by placing the 732 broadcasting stations on 89 wavelengths, so as not to create interference.” The FRC lasted only a few years before it was replaced in 1934 by the Federal Communications Commission, which had even broader powers to regulate commercial broadcasters. ITS continues to work with the FCC to coordinate government and commercial spectrum use and manage the ever-more crowded radio spectrum.