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

May 1937: NBS begins Ionospheric Reporting Service

In May 1937, the National Bureau of Standards began publishing monthly reports on the state of the ionosphere as a service for radio broadcasters. The ionosphere, a highly ionized and layered portion of the upper atmosphere, is important to radio communications because it scatters radio signals and reflects them  back to earth, allowing broadcasters to increase their effective transmission area. NBS researchers had only recently amassed enough data to understand the ionosphere's effect on radio fading and interference. The new reporting service included information on the height and characteristics of the ionosphere and disruptions by weather and solar phenomena. Predictions of conditions for the next three months were based on atmospheric and solar cycles were assisted by an automated radio transmitter in Meadows, Maryland, that recorded radio waves reflected off the ionic layers to map and characterize them. This data was used by other governmental agencies to adjust broadcasting frequency, power, and direction to ensure radio signals reached their intended destinations. In 1939 the reports were released to commercial broadcasters as well. Nearly 80 years later, ITS continues to support other governmental agencies and commercial enterprises by publicly releasing the results of cutting edge radio propagation research through regular reports and technical bulletins.