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Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Visit ITS's Main Website.

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), located in Boulder, Colorado, is the research and engineering arm of NTIA. ITS provides core telecommunications research and engineering services to promote:

  • Enhanced domestic competition and new technology deployment
  • Advanced telecommunications and information services
  • More efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum

ITS also serves as a principal Federal resource for investigating the telecommunications challenges of other Federal agencies, state and local governments, private corporations and associations, and international organizations. In particular, this includes assisting Federal public safety agencies, the FCC, and agencies that use Federal spectrum. Current areas of focus include:

  • Research, development, testing, and evaluation to foster nationwide first-responder communications interoperability
  • Test and Demonstration Networks to facilitate accelerated development of standards for emerging communications devices
  • Analysis and resolution of interference issues

ITS Director: Eric Nelson (Acting)


Institute for Telecommunication Sciences
325 Broadway, MC ITS.D
Boulder, CO 80305–3337
(303) 497–3571

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How Lasers Can Light the Path to Spectrum Sharing

May 17, 2024


Lidar, a sensing method that uses light waves, has been around since the 1960s when the United States developed it as a military technology for defense and aerospace uses. But the advent of publicly-available lidar data has made it a crucial tool for helping radio scientists inside and outside of government better predict where objects like trees and buildings will likely interrupt a wireless signal. These more accurate predictions can enable more opportunities for government and non-government users to share the airwaves.

By measuring the time it takes for a laser pulse to return to its sending point, a lidar system measures and records the shapes and heights of buildings, trees, and other surface features to create a very precise three-dimensional model of an environment. Spectrum sharing relies on these propagation models to predict signal strength between two points, such as a cell phone and a government system like an air traffic control radar.  

With high-precision information about the environment, radio scientists can better understand the layout and orientation of obstructive objects — known as “clutter” — that can decrease an interfering signal’s strength, increasing the ability of multiple systems to share the same spectrum.

A Bright Future for Wireless Innovation at the RIC Forum

May 16, 2024

Byline: Jeremy Glenn, Program Management Specialist

The future of wireless innovation is bright.  

NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), in collaboration with the Department of Defense’s FutureG Office, recently hosted the RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller) Forum in Dallas, Texas.  

Thanks to our incredible partners from U.S. federal agencies, governments abroad, academia, and industry, we had a packed house filled with live technology demonstrations from around the world. The event showcased what’s possible when government, academic and industry collaborate and share technical knowledge.  

The demonstrations and high engagement from attendees underscored why the RIC Forum is drawing such a high level of international attention and interest. Thanks to advances in the RAN Intelligent Controller, or RIC, Open RAN has the potential to spur energy efficiency, automation, spectrum management, and more.  

Open RAN is an approach to radio access network design that leverages open, interoperable, and standards-based elements to form a virtualized and disaggregated network. The RIC is the intelligence that controls the network’s behavior. When third party xApps and rApps are deployed in the RIC, the network can dynamically optimize the network for new priorities like energy saving, security, or spectrum management.  

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