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

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

Boulder Wireless Test City

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 City (BWTC) with a planned network of RF sensors that will eventually encompass the City of Boulder and surrounding communities.

The BWTC 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 BWTC will also provide a glimpse of what will be required to build and maintain a nationwide spectrum monitoring network.

The Spectrum Monitoring team developed programmable and relatively low-cost ($2,500–$3,500 per unit) radio frequency sensors based on software-defined radio (SDR) technology. These low cost sensors have been deployed throughout the CU campus and ITS facilities including the Table Mountain Field Site. Moving forward, commercial mid-grade sensors will also be deployed, and ITS is actively working with the Boulder Research and Administrative Network (BRAN) members to identify additional sensor locations throughout the city of Boulder.  

BWTC 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. See Standardization and Open Source Software for more information on the software platform being used to develop these advanced spectrum monitoring capabilities within the Boulder Wireless Test City. 

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BWTC 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 Michael Cotton.