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

Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / Research Topics / ITS Research

ITS Research

ITS research supports the Department of Commerce key strategy of fostering advanced communications technologies to strengthen the Nation’s digital economy. ITS is recognized as one of the world’s leading telecommunication research laboratories.

  • Basic research enhances scientific knowledge and understanding in cutting-edge areas of telecommunications and information technology to improve the performance of telecommunications networks.
  • Applied research, testing, and evaluation help drive innovation and development of advanced technologies and services, contribute to improving public safety communications, provide technical input to NTIA policy development and spectrum management, and help to resolve specific telecommunications problems of other Federal agencies and state and local governments.
  • Cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with industry and academia leverage Federal research resources by providing technical assistance to the private sector that promotes innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.
  • Leadership and technical contributions to national and international telecommunications fora help influence development of standards and policies to support the full and fair competitiveness of the U.S. communications and information technology sectors.

Areas of Research

  • Enhancing Spectrum Utilization
    NTIA continues to advance strategic initiatives to make additional spectrum available for commercial wireless use and to meet the increasing radio spectrum needs of both federal and commercial users in the U.S. as efficiently and effectively as possible. ITS promotes these initiatives by conducting engineering studies on in-band and adjacent band interference and interference mitigation techniques. ITS research in this area helps provide the technical foundations necessary to “unlock the value of otherwise underutilized spectrum and open new avenues for spectrum users to derive value through the development of advanced, situation-aware spectrum-sharing technologies.” (The White House, Presidential Memorandum: Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution, June 28, 2010.)
  • Propagation Modeling
    The ability to accurately predict the behavior of radio waves through propagation modeling is fundamental to the ability to plan wireless communication system deployments, assess spectrum-sharing proposals, and develop improved dynamic frequency management and spectrum-sharing systems. ITS continues to build on almost a century of effort in Department of Commerce radio research labs to develop and validate, through scientific theory and measurements, improved ultrawideband, wideband, broadband, and narrowband radio propagation models for various radio bands and environments and promulgate them to industry, other agencies, and national and international standard bodies.
  • Radio Propagation Data
    ITS makes available electronic data files that can be used to validate propagation prediction methods or wireless system analysis techniques. These data sets contain results of selected propagation measurement efforts, along with the header information that gives all the associated parameters for each set. For more information about available data sets, click here.
  • Radio Propagation Software
    Propagation modeling software developed by ITS is not subject to copyright protection in the U.S. and is made available free of charge, as is. Available software includes GLOBE Terrain Extraction Routines,  High Frequency (HF) models (2-30 MHz), Irregular Terrain Model (ITM)  (Longley-Rice) (20 MHz-20 GHz), IF-77 Wave Propagation Model (Gierhart-Johnson) (Air-Ground), and Millimeter-wave Propagation Model (MPM). For more information about available software, click here.
  • Improving Telecommunications Network Performance
    ITS research to improve the performance of the telecommunications network end-to-end includes development and assessment of methods to improve the quality of transmission. ITS is a world leader in the development of subjective and objective measures of transmitted audio and video quality. ITS audio and video laboratories develop and demonstrate perception-based audio and video performance assessment tools for critical new areas including Internet multimedia conferencing, advanced television, and wireless services. The tools, and the advances associated with them, are rapidly transferred to government, industrial, academic, and individual users via the release of NTIA-developed software toolkits and open-literature publications.
  • Audio Quality Research and Data
    ITS performs basic and applied research in in digital speech and audio compression, transmission, and quality assessment. Research facilities and resources are made available to outside researchers in private industry, academia and other government agencies through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) or inter-agency agreements. The Audio Quality Research Web page provides more information about this program as well as access to coder examples and publications describing research results.
  • Video Quality Research and Software
    The ITS Video Quality Research Project promotes increased quality of service in digital telecommunication services by developing technology to assess the performance of new digital video systems and actively transferring this technology to other government agencies, end-users, standards bodies, and the U.S. telecommunications industry. The Video Quality Metric (VQM) software developed by this program is a standardized method of objectively measuring video quality that closely predicts the subjective quality ratings that would be obtained from a panel of human viewers. The technology is covered by four U.S. patents owned by NTIA/ITS and is made available to be freely used for both non-commercial and commercial purposes. Visit the Video Quality Research Web page to learn more.
  • Public Safety Communications Interoperability
    ITS worked with the NIST Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL) and its predecessors for decades to conduct research and contribute to standardization efforts to assist law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to select and procure communications equipment that meets their needs. Since FY 2003, this work has been carried out through the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, a joint effort that leverages the capabilities of CTL and ITS through collaborative research projects.

The Advanced Communications Test Site at Table Mountain

ITS maintains and manages the Table Mountain Radio Quiet Zone, an area of approximately 729 hectares (1,800 acres) of flat terrain with no perimeter obstructions and relatively homogeneous underlying ground that is protected by both State and Federal laws from strong external signals. The site is ideal for conducting sensitive radio or electromagnetic experiments, as well as for applications needing low vibration and unobstructed views of the sky. The Advanced Communications Test Site at Table Mountain and its research facilities are made available to outside researchers in private industry, academia and other government agencies through cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) or inter-agency agreements. Visit the Table Mountain Web page for more information.