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

December 1964: First Description of VLF Propagation Published

Dr. James Wait and Kenneth Spies of the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL) published NBS Technical Note 300 on December 30, 1964. “Characteristics of the earth-ionosphere waveguide for VLF radio waves” was an important contribution to understanding radio propagation in the Very Long Frequency (VLF) range between 8kc/s and 30kc/s (3–30 kHz). It was the first description of how VLF waves propagate in the space between the Earth and the ionosphere. Using a man-made waveguide which directs radio waves as a model of the atmosphere, Wait and Spies described the natural phenomenon in simple terms. Today, VLF signals are used for some data (including radio clocks) and navigation services. In 1964, CRPL was investigating VLF for submarine communication, a VLF use that continues today. Tech Note 300 was notable not only for the concepts it described, but because it was the first publication to present the propagation algorithms to describe the behavior of radio waves trapped between the Earth and the ionosphere. The graphical and numerical results in Tech. Note 300 were the only representation of these propagation phenomena available for many years, and were extensively relied upon by researchers of the time. ITS researchers follow in the footsteps of Wait and Spies by investigating and characterizing the propagation of radio waves in all frequencies for improved communications.