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.


The 18th International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART 2020) will explore “5G Spectrum and...

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...

New Publications

This Month in ITS History

April 1942: IRPL Publishes First Ionospheric Predictions

In April of 1942, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War II, the Interdepartmental Radio Propagation Laboratory (IRPL) published its first ionospheric predictions. These predictions on the height and state of the ionospheric layer of the Earth’s atmosphere were used to determine which frequencies and paths would be most effective for radio communication. The ionosphere is made up of shifting plasma that reflects radio waves; it is necessary for radio communication in most situations. Knowing the height and state of the atmospheric layer allows more distant communication with reduced interference. IRPL had been sounding the ionosphere with radio waves and reporting their findings since 1939. By 1942, they could recognize patterns in the data that allowed them to predict the changing state of the atmospheric layer. Since the predictions were used heavily by the military to communicate with troops in the field, the published predictions remained top secret until the end of the war. Publishing ionospheric predictions was one of the most important missions undertaken by IRPL and its successor agencies for many years. ITS no longer publishes ionospheric predictions, but continues to improve telecommunication for everyone by studying the propagation of radio waves and developing new prediction algorithms.