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: Spectrum Mining at Millimeter Waves Set for 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 will explore millimeter waves, the technical challenges they present, and applications that use them. This year’s tutorial and four panels will approach this topic from five different perspectives: regulation, industry, standards, measurement and modeling, and systems. Industry demonstrations and poster sessions from academia will round out the conference. The goal of ISART 2017 is to get us all talking, exploring new ideas, brainstorming, and perhaps even solve a couple of millimeter wave obstacles. To take advantage of potential synergies, a CSMAC meeting and a WSRD meeting are scheduled during the same week. Read more here, check out the Draft Agenda and the Panel Descriptions, and register here.
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 https://github.com/NTIA/ehata. 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.
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.