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 provide timely technical advice in support of NTIA’s mandate to develop and promulgate Executive Branch policies that address domestic and international communications 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. For more information on our research programs, see the FY 2016 Technical Progress Report.

ISART 2018

Path Lost: Navigating propagation challenges for ultra-dense wireless systems
July 24-26, 2018, in Broomfield, Colorado

Network densification in response to the explosion in demand for wireless data presents technical economic, and regulatory challenges ... Network operators are looking to ultra-dense networks and ever-shrinking cell sizes to build capacity, but existing propagation models have an inadequate level of fidelity to represent these environments. ... ISART 2018 brought together a record number of leading experts from government, academia, and industry to explore the current state of the art and map the path forward to the next generation of foundational propagation models. for more, see the agenda with links to presentations and posters and the wrap-up blog by ITS Director Keith Gremban.


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...

April 3, 2017 

Evolving and improving the science behind spectrum sharing is essential to NTIA’s commitment to meeting the demand for spectrum among federal and commercial users. Just as collaboration between spectrum users can unlock...

January 3, 2018

A new NTIA Technical Report, published at the very end of 2017, reports the results of an investigation of speech intelligibility in different radio environments recently completed...

New Publications

This Month in ITS History

August 1912: Federal Regulation of U.S. Airwaves Begins

On August 13,1912, Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912 (Public Law 264), the first federal regulation on all radio transmissions in the United States. Prompted by the Titanic disaster earlier in the year this bill mandated trained radio users to monitor distress signals for any passenger ship in American waters. The Radio Act also required all broadcasters to receive a license. The provision was intended to reduce interference on emergency stations but it shaped broadcast radio, which was still in its infancy. The act gave the power of licensing and enforcement to the Department of Commerce and Labor (the Department of Labor was spun off in 1913). Commerce and Labor could impose fines of up to $2,500, seize broadcasting equipment, or revoke the license of broadcasters who failed to comply with the law. The Radio Act of 1912 was the first law to regulate land based radio operators and is considered to be the precedent for all regulation that came after it. Later laws created the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and removed the burden of licensing and enforcement from the Department of Commerce. But the Department continued its radio work, advising the FCC and researching improvements in radio communication. Today, NTIA's Office of spectrum management regulates federal use of the spectrum, informed by the results of ITS research. ITS also helps solve the telecommunications problems of other federal agencies with expertise acquired over a century of research on behalf of the Department of Commerce.