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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.

ITS Audio Quality Engineers Receive DoC Silver Medal Award

On September 27, 2016 Stephen D. Voran and Andrew A. Catellier of ITS were honored with the Department of Commerce (DoC) Silver Medal Award for designing and executing a highly compressed speech intelligibility testing regime that produced internationally accepted authoritative results to inform international standards under development for next-generation wireless communications equipment. The Silver Medal is the second highest honor granted by the Secretary of Commerce for distinguished and exceptional performance. The compressed testing regime devised by Voran and Catellier models a fast-response, targeted research effort that builds on long-standing expertise to produce reliable and trusted objective results to inform international standards.

The work was performed on behalf of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as part of the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, a joint effort of NTIA and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. The research was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which leads an ongoing effort to enable interoperable emergency communications among 60,000 Federal, state and local public safety agencies. These agencies will benefit from Voran and Catellier’s work by being able to purchase internationally standardized commercial off-the-shelf equipment to meet their mission critical communication needs. Dean Prochaska, Director of Standards for FirstNet emphasized, “The work that Stephen and Andrew performed provided the basis for 3GPP to select a voice codec that meets the needs of public safety for inclusion in the next release of international LTE communications standards, and manufacturers all over the world will include that codec in new equipment designs." Including speech intelligibility testing in future evaluations of voice codecs at 3GPP ensures a single stream evolution for public safety and commercial communications technology.

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ITS 2015 Outstanding Publications Awards Presented

On September 20, 2016, ITS researchers Paul McKenna and Margaret Pinson were presented with ITS Outstanding Publications Awards for works published in calendar year 2015. McKenna was honored for his contribution to NTIA Technical Report TR-15-517, "3.5 GHz Exclusion Zone Analyses and Methodology," co-authored with five colleagues from NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management and published in June 2015. Pinson was honored for her contribution to the tutorial article Video Quality Assessment: Subjective testing of entertainment scenes,” which was co-authored with two university researchers and appeared in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine in January 2015.

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New Publications

This Month in ITS History

October 1997: First VQEG Meeting

On October 14, 1997 the Video Quality Exerts Group (VQEG) held its first meeting, hosted by the telecommunication laboratory CSELT in Turin, Italy. VQEG was created by members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to focus on the complex and multi-disciplinary field of video quality. Video had become increasingly important as a form of telecommunications, and it was clear that compression of digital video would present new challenges, different from those of television. ITS staff were instrumental in the creation of this group and have participated continuously since its inception. An ITS staff member co-chairs VQEG with an industry representative, and ITS hosts the VQEG website (

VQEG is open to all interested parties, and members represent government, industry, and academia. There are no fees or membership applications and no invitations are needed to participate in VQEG meetings of international experts or subscribe to VQEG email lists. Much of the group’s work has been dedicated to improving and standardizing subjective and objective methods for analyzing video quality. Over the last 20 years the ecosystem has changed dramatically. Multi-media is now pervasive on all devices and methods of distribution from broadcast to cellular data networks. This shift has led the membership of VQEG to move from focusing its expertise on the visual (no-audio) quality of video to developing, defining and deploying methods and tools for the assessment of Quality of Experience (QoE).