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 2012: FirstNet Established

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, signed into law on February 22, 2012, included a section on Public Safety Communications and Electromagnetic Spectrum Auctions (Title VI of Public Law 112–96, codified at 47 U.S.C. §1401 ff.). The law a) established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within the NTIA, b) directed the FCC to license the 700 MHz D block exclusively to FirstNet for an initial term of 10 years, and c) directed FirstNet to establish in that frequency an interoperable nationwide public safety broadband network based on a single, national network architecture. During the emergency response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (“the 9/11 attack”), responding public safety agencies were greatly hampered by the inadequacy of their communications systems and the inability of systems used by different jurisdictions to interoperate. Improving public safety communications systems has been a primary focus of ITS research throughout its history. In the 1990s, ITS researchers worked with Federal, state, and local agencies and industry to define foundational public safety communication standards for an interoperable wireless land mobile digital radio public safety communication system—the P25 Standard. In the 2000s, ITS efforts were expanded to further advance the P25 goal as a user-driven process for efficient use of limited spectrum resources while providing essential and reliable push-to-talk features and ITS helped establish the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program to accelerate the development of advanced broadband communication technologies. More recently, ITS efforts strongly supported completion by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) of initial broadband wireless mission critical standards. The realization in 2018 of FirstNet’s initial operational capabilities in conjunction with continuing wide use of P25 systems attests to the strong positive contributions ITS has made to accelerate global deployment of efficient and effective narrowband and broadband wireless communication systems to satisfy evolving public safety community needs.