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

September 1962: Canadian Satellite Allouette Launched from Point Aguella, CA

On September 29, 1962, the world’s first top-side ionospheric sounding satellite was launched from Point Aguella Missile Range in California. Top-side sounding allows researchers to probe the ionosphere from above, in much the same way that researchers have explored it from the ground, using reflected radio waves. These readings improve ionospheric maps, which are essential for radio communications, and help scientists understand the charged layers of the atmosphere that reflect and scatter radio waves. Allouette (French for lark) was constructed at Canada’s Defence and Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) by a team headed by scientist John Chapman. DRTE joined with the UK’s Radio and Space Research Station, NASA, and the Central Radio Propagation Lab (CRPL) in the International Satellites for Ionospheric Sounding program in 1959. The cooperative research group had already launched two American rockets equipped with fixed frequency transmitters to probe the ionosphere as they passed through during their 13 minute flights. Allouette, which was launched on a two stage Thor-Agena rocket and placed into a 1000 km, circular orbit remained in space for 10 years, and sent over one million images back to earth. The satellite passed over CRPL’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado weekly. CRPL’s analysis of Allouette’s data was instrumental in understanding Spread F, the scattering of radio waves by moving plasma within the ionosphere. ITS’s current research into radio propagation and spectrum utilization relies heavily on data obtained from Allouette and similar projects from the 1960s.