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

Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / Programs / Spectrum Monitoring / Boulder Wireless Test Bed

Boulder Wireless Test Bed

In FY 2018, ITS established a no-cost Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU). Working with CU faculty members that share interests in advancing spectrum access technologies and Smart City applications, we are developing the Boulder Wireless Test Bed with a planned network of RF sensors that will eventually encompass the City of Boulder and surrounding communities.

The Boulder Test Bed project represents a significant development in the field of spectrum monitoring, and it is expected to have wide-ranging impact on government, industry, and the scientific community. This city-wide test bed will enable the efficient testing of both sensors and sensor networking applications under real-world conditions, both for spectrum monitoring and for the broader field of wireless technology. The Boulder Test Bed will also provide a glimpse of what will be required to build and maintain a nationwide spectrum monitoring network.

Development of the Boulder Test Bed is currently in its early stages. We will begin by placing sensors and associated network infrastructure around the CU campus, which is larger and has a richer radio propagation environment than the Boulder Labs campus. The figure shows the initial planned distribution of sensors on the CU campus.

In FY 2017, the specmon team developed the programmable and relatively low-cost ($2,500–$3,500 per unit) radio frequency sensor based on software-defined radio (SDR) technology. Our low-cost sensors will enable the rapid development and trial of sensing algorithms unique to the government spectrum sensing mission, which prioritizes monitoring for protection of mission-critical government systems. In FY 2018, we will build and install 10 sensors in and around Boulder. In upcoming years, the Boulder Test Bed and its networking and analytics infrastructure will serve as a development platform that we will use to develop advanced techniques for identifying at locating sources of radio interference.

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Boulder Test Bed sensor and infrastructure placement on the campuses of the University of Colorado Boulder and the Department of Commerce Boulder Labs. Google Earth™ map data ©2017 Google; image Landsat Copernicus.

For more information about this project, contact Mike Cotton.