The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) is the research and engineering laboratory of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). ITS supports such NTIA telecommunications objectives as promotion of advanced telecommunications and information infrastructure development in the United States, enhancement of domestic competitiveness, improvement of foreign trade opportunities for U.S. telecommunications firms, and facilitation of more efficient and effective use of the radio spectrum.
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. These problems fall into the areas of communications technology use (including RF, PSTN and IP/IT).
Cooperative research agreements based upon the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 are the principal means of aiding the private sector. This Act provides the legal basis for and encourages shared use of Government facilities and resources with the private sector in advanced telecommunications technologies. These partnerships aid in the commercialization of new products and services.
The Institute began in the 1940s as the Interservice Radio Propagation Laboratory, which later became the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL) of the National Bureau of Standards in the U.S. Department of Commerce. A new facility was built for CRPL in Boulder, Colorado, and dedicated by President Eisenhower in September 1954.
In 1965, CRPL became part of the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA). At that time, CRPL was renamed the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences and Aeronomy (ITSA). In 1967, ITSA split into four labs within ESSA: the Aeronomy Laboratory, the Space Disturbances Laboratory, the Wave Propagation Laboratory, and the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS).
In 1970, Executive Order 11556 established the Office of Telecommunications (OT) within the Department of Commerce and the Office of Telecommunications Policy (OTP) in the Executive Office of the President. At the same time, ITS was transferred into OT.
Finally, under the President's Reorganization Act #1 of 1977, OT and the Office of Telecommunications Policy merged to form the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Since that time, ITS has performed telecommunications research and provided technical engineering support to NTIA and to other Federal agencies on a reimbursable basis.
Over the past decade, ITS has expanded its historical role by conducting cooperative research and development with U.S. industry and academia under the provisions of the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986.