Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
the research laboratory of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

What We Do

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) performs cutting-edge telecommunications research and engineering with both federal government and private sector partners. As its research and engineering laboratory, ITS supports NTIA by performing the research and engineering that enables the U.S. Government, national and international standards organizations, and many aspects of private industry to manage the radio spectrum and ensure that innovative, new technologies are recognized and effective. ITS also serves as a principal Federal resource for solving the telecommunications concerns of other Federal agencies, state and local Governments, private corporations and associations, and international organizations. The FY 2015 Technical Progress Report describes research performed in the past fiscal year.

ISART 2017

Over 150 Attended ISART 2017: Spectrum Mining at Millimeter Waves August 15-17 in Broomfield, Colorado

Digging for Capacity: As more spectrum users squeeze into the lower frequency bands, more are also exploring the higher frequencies to meet their capacity needs. Millimeter wave frequencies, approximately 20 GHz and above, are able to meet some needs. ISART 2017, the 16th in this series of high quality symposia explored millimeter waves, the technical challenges they present, and applications that use them. This year’s tutorial and four panels approached this topic from five different perspectives: regulation, industry, standards, measurement and modeling, and systems. Industry demonstrations and poster sessions from academia rounded out the conference. The goal of ISART 2017 was to get us all talking, exploring new ideas, brainstorming, and perhaps even solve a couple of millimeter wave obstacles. Read more here, or check out the Agenda (with speaker slides) and the Panel Descriptions.

Research Spotlight: A Promising Crowdsourcing Research Experiment

The results are in—when it comes to speech intelligibility testing, the crowd and human subjects in a lab have a lot in common. Initial results from a crowdsourced speech intelligibility test designed by ITS align closely with similar testing done in the lab. Since crowdsourced testing requires significantly less time and money than laboratory testing, this could help ITS quickly gather large amounts of high-quality speech intelligibility data as part of a more efficient overall test plan.

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ITS Open Sources the Extended-Hata Urban Propagation Model

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 sharing opportunities, researchers can work together to advance spectrum efficiencies and mitigate interference.

ITS has taken a major step toward better collaboration by publishing a reference implementation of the Extended-Hata Urban Propagation Model (eHata) in the NTIA/ITS GitHub at ITS created eHata to predict propagation of new commercial broadband services in the 3.5 GHz band. An analysis of those predictions enabled regulators to significantly expand commercial access to the 3.5 GHz band through the establishment of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The analysis was presented in Technical Report TR-15-517: 3.5 GHz Exclusion Zone Analyses and Methodology. The analysis was based on propagation predictions performed by extending the Hata model, a radio propagation model for outdoor cellular transmissions at 150-1500 MHz that considers the effects of diffraction, reflection, and scattering caused by city structures. To predict propagation of new commercial broadband services in the 3.5 GHz band, NTIA engineers extended the Hata model in both frequency and distance, creating the Extended-Hata Urban Propagation Model (eHata).

The Hata propagation model considers the effects of diffraction, reflection, and scattering caused by city structures for outdoor cellular transmissions at 150-1500 MHz. NTIA engineers created eHata by extending the Hata model in both frequency and distance. By providing an open source implementation that is freely available for use and re-use, ITS hopes to advance development of widely accepted propagation models. Rather than duplicating efforts with competing versions of eHata, researchers can focus on enhancing and improving the open source implementation.

The Wireless Innovation Forum’s Spectrum Sharing Committee, which is developing the technical standards for the Spectrum Access System (SAS) that will enable commercial operations in the 3.5 GHz band, has proposed using eHata to calculate coverage and protection areas. WInnForum can now use or adapt the ITS source code for propagation prediction and focus their efforts on developing other aspects of the SAS functional architecture. The code can also allow other organizations and researchers that are interested in urban propagation modeling to engage with ITS to explore how best to model urban environments.

Whereas papers and reports disseminate knowledge unidirectionally, open source code repositories allow for two-way collaboration between ITS and the research community. ITS plans to continue to release open source reference implementations as it adds to the body of basic research on radio propagation modeling. These releases transfer the results of federally funded research and technology development to other researchers in this area, allowing other federal agencies as well as industry to leverage 100 years of ITS research expertise to address current and future spectrum issues.


New Publications

This Month in ITS History

September 1952: NBS Chief Called Before House Un-American Activities Committee

On September 5, 1952 Ed Condon, former chief of the National Bureau of Standards, made his second appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) at the behest of Senator Richard Vail. Condon had made political enemies on the committee with his unapologetic demands for civilian control of atomic energy and his support of international organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an organization dedicated to sharing scientific discoveries between the US and USSR. The Committee was especially interested in investigating Truman appointees who were involved with nuclear secrets, and Condon fit the bill perfectly. Condon first appeared before the HUAC in 1948 on charges that he was the "weakest link in our atomic security."  Condon defended himself successfully, without pleading the fifth amendment, which was seen by the committee as as sign of guilt, but despite the support of scientists both within and outside government ranks, Condon was consistently hounded by the HUAC until he resigned his government commission in 1951. He was brought before the committee a second time in September 1952 to defend himself again. Despite his separation from the Bureau, and a second successful defense, his security clearance, which he required for his new job with Corning Glass, was revoked in 1954. Unable to work in industry on military contracts, Condon moved into academia, but his career continued to suffer from attacks by anti-communist crusaders until the mid 1960s. Today, ITS continues to work hard to ensure that  research results are published as they are obtained, in accordance with the Department of Commerce Administrative Order 219-1 prohibiting "approval or non-approval [of publication] to be based on policy, budget, or management implications of the research."