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

November 1920: First Scheduled Commercial Radio Broadcast

On November 2, 1920 Frank Conrad broadcast the election results from the Harding-Cox election (Harding won 37 of 48 states). Conrad was a ham radio operator who worked with radio manufacturer Westinghouse to set up KDKA in Pittsburgh. It was the first of its kind, but it echoed the successes of the National Bureau of Standards (BS) WWV station which had begun occasional experimental broadcasts in May. KDKA’s broadcast was a success, and soon radio stations were popping up all around the country. The NBS Radio Section supported the booming industry. Radio Section researchers tested materials for radio parts, and antenna shapes. At the request of broadcasters, they created standards for radio and equipment to measure those standards. They published technical manuals and acted as an information clearinghouse for companies and individuals. To help consumers listen to the broadcasts, NBS created the porta-phone, a small portable radio in 1921. In 1922, NBS printed instructions for creating a homemade radio at one tenth the cost of a commercial one. Before the creation of the Federal Radio Commission (the precursor to the FCC), the Radio Section even tested radio operators. Today, ITS, the Radio Section’s descendant, continues to work to improve current and emerging communications technologies such as LTE, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), and 5G.