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

January 1909: Maritime Radio Distress Call Saves 1,500 Lives

One of the first maritime radio distress calls saved over 1,500 lives. Early on the morning of January 23, 1909, in a dense fog, the Italy-bound SS Republic collided with the New York-bound SS Florida near Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Six people died in the collision, which heavily damaged both ocean liners. A combined total of over 1,500 passengers were at risk. Luckily, the Republic carried a new invention, a Marconi wireless distress signal. J. Binns, the ship's Marconi-man sent out a CQD, an all stations distress signal, to alert nearby ships of the collision before the Republic went down. The call was received at 6:40 AM at the Siosconset wireless station and relayed to nearby vessels. Seven ships responded to the call, and rowboats were used to rescue all surviving passengers and crew from both ships. A tragedy had been averted and newspapers and magazines were filled with the heroic stories of passengers and rescuers alike. New wireless technology had been tested dramatically at sea and proven itself. The next year, Congress passed a change to U.S. maritime code that required all steam ships operating out of American ports to maintain radio distress signals. Much of the Department of Commerce's early radio work was directed at ensuring that all commercial vessels could send, receive, and understand Maritime distress signals like the one the Republic sent out. Today, ITS researchers still work directly to improve maritime safety through, for example, defining interference protection criteria and mitigation techniques to ensure marine radars can continue to provide accurate collision avoidance when sharing spectrum with other radio services.