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Annual Spectrum Symposium Will Examine Millimeter Waves

July 11, 2017 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

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Spectrum capacity discussions have often focused on the lower frequency bands (below about 6 GHz) because those signals are able to travel significant distances without being interrupted by environmental factors. But these lower frequency bands do have a drawback for wireless transmission in a data-hungry age – available bandwidth is limited.

Until recently, higher frequencies were not considered useful for outdoor transmissions, since their signals are susceptible to propagation loss in bad weather and can’t travel through buildings. However, advances in technology are beginning to unlock their potential.

Higher radio frequencies, from roughly 20 to 300 GHz, are considered promising spectrum for the next generation of wireless technologies, including 5G. Attention is particularly concentrated on the millimeter wave (mmWave) or Extremely High Frequency (EHF) bands, 30–300 GHz. The bandwidth available in the millimeter wave frequency range could increase the speed of cellular Internet service by more than ten times.

NTIA Celebrates Vital Role of Digital Inclusion Programs

May 08, 2017 by NTIA

This week, NTIA is joining communities, organizations and broadband advocates in recognizing Digital Inclusion Week and the important work being done by digital inclusion programs across the country.

The concept of digital inclusion goes beyond ensuring that everyone in the United States has access to the Internet -- it reflects the understanding that people require robust broadband connections, connected devices that meet their needs, and the skills to explore, create, and collaborate in the digital world.

Community leaders, universities, libraries, nonprofit groups and others are working together on digital inclusion programs that connect citizens and inform them about the tremendous number of economic, educational and entertainment benefits that computer use can provide. There are endless examples of these kinds of programs, including “learn to code” classes, workforce skills programs, and training for seniors so they can seek out health information online.

NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program offers guidance, assistance and resources to help build the capacity of digital inclusion programs. A few highlights:

ITS Releases Key Software Model to Boost Collaborative Spectrum-Sharing Research

May 01, 2017 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Evolving and improving the science behind spectrum sharing is essential to NTIA’s commitment to delivering the spectrum needed to support innovation, power next-generation technologies and ensure that federal agencies can execute their spectrum-dependent missions.

Understanding the characteristics of radio waves, especially how far they propagate and how they interact with structures and the environment, is important in planning and operating wireless systems. Any agreement to share spectrum bands will require reliable predictions of how that spectrum will perform in the real world.

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) recently took a major step toward a more collaborative approach to research in this area by publicly releasing an advanced software model for radio wave propagation in urban environments. This software can be used by consumers, engineers, scientists and others to explore the behavior of radio waves interacting with buildings, trees, and other environmental features.

ITS released the software to the public by publishing source code on GitHub, an online platform for open-source code. Posting to GitHub will allow researchers to use and modify the code as they wish, as well as collaborate with other researchers and avoid duplicating efforts. ITS hopes that making its source code freely available can advance development of widely accepted propagation models.

Agencies Making Progress to Connect America

January 13, 2017 by Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator and Lisa Mensah, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development

Over the last eight years, our agencies have worked to expand the availability and adoption of broadband in recognition of the increasingly important role that the Internet is playing in every facet of society.

Recognizing the opportunity to marshal resources across the entire federal government, President Obama in March 2015 created the Broadband Opportunity Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, which in August 2015 identified a series of executive actions that could be taken through existing agency programs, missions, and budgets to increase broadband deployment, competition, and adoption.

Today, we are pleased to report that the 25 participating agencies have made considerable progress toward completing their commitments. These actions further the goals of modernizing federal programs to expand program support for broadband investments; empowering communities with tools and resources to attract broadband investment and promote meaningful use; promoting increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to federal assets; and improving data collection, analysis, and research on broadband.

Building Our Next Internet Use Survey

January 09, 2017 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Today, NTIA began seeking public comment on the next edition of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), which will go into the field in November 2017 and will build on previous research to track the evolving ways Americans are using new information technology.

For more than two decades, the CPS Supplement has been the primary data source for NTIA’s research into who goes online, what devices and applications people use on the Internet, and what barriers stand in the way of all Americans effectively utilizing the latest information technologies. Moreover, researchers and policymakers inside and outside of government rely on our surveys in part because of their large sample size—around 53,000 households—as well as their in-depth questions and public dataset availability.

Improving Cybersecurity Through Enhanced Vulnerability Disclosure

December 15, 2016 by Angela Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information

Stakeholders involved in NTIA’s cybersecurity multistakeholder process to promote collaboration on vulnerability research disclosure today are releasing initial findings, recommendations, and resources that they hope will enhance cooperation and lead to a more secure digital ecosystem. The three stakeholder-drafted reports reflect the experience and wisdom of many of the key experts in the field, including active security researchers, experienced software companies, security companies, academics, and civil society advocates, as well as industries new to the issue.

Vulnerability disclosure has long been an open, important issue in cybersecurity. Companies need a strategy to deal with flawed software, systems, and configurations -- especially when the issues are first discovered by a third party. Without a strategy, for example, companies sometimes choose to threaten the third party with legal action rather than working together to fix the vulnerability. This need is heightened as more and more organizations become part of the digital economy.

A diverse set of stakeholders participated in this process for more than a year, attending four in-person meetings across the country, and participating in countless conference calls and drafting sessions. On behalf of NTIA, I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to seeking consensus and increased collaboration on these important cybersecurity issues.

Sizing up Spectrum Sharing Prospects

November 17, 2016 by Glenn Reynolds, Chief of Staff, and Peter Tenhula, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

NTIA today is announcing the development of another tool to help meet the surging demand for spectrum from industry and government agencies.  It also is the latest demonstration of the Obama Administration’s ongoing commitment to make spectrum available for wireless broadband.

As directed by President Obama in a 2013 Memorandum, NTIA is releasing the Quantitative Assessments of Spectrum Usage that summarizes our initial efforts to evaluate a range of federal spectrum bands for possible sharing with commercial users.  These efforts will provide a basis for further detailed studies of potential sharing scenarios.

Using Partnerships to Power Smart Cities: A Toolkit for Local Communities

November 16, 2016 by NTIA

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Many cities and local communities are eyeing advances in technology as a way to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality of life for their residents – all in the face of shrinking budgets. They are seeking to become “Smart Cities” by embedding new digital technologies into municipal infrastructure. The possibilities seem endless: smart grids, intelligent transportation systems, connected street lighting, and remote healthcare to name a few.

Although smart-city infrastructure is the foundation for vibrant societies of tomorrow, today many communities do not have the required expertise to develop and sustain new large-scale infrastructure and technology projects. Many also lack the funds needed for such investments. One way to meet these challenges is to harness the resources and strengths of private-sector stakeholders – innovators, businesses, community anchor institutions, educators, and more. Private-sector partners can be an important source of capital, technical knowledge, continuing innovation and workforce development.

Access to Broadband Fuels Workforce Development and Enhances Job Skills

November 15, 2016 by Jennifer Duane, Senior Advisor for Broadband and Public Safety, National Telecommunications and Information Administration

This blog post was cross-posted on the Commerce Department's website.

Broadband has become an indispensable driver of economic growth and workforce development, creating new opportunities for Americans to participate in the modern, global economy and changing the way they find and do their jobs.  Broadband provides channels for sharing information, learning new skills for career advancement, and completing basic job functions in a number of professions.

Understanding Spectrum Clutter—It’s Not About Neatness!

November 02, 2016 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Picture of Keith GrembanMerriam-Webster defines clutter first as “a crowded or confused mass or collection,” and then as “interfering radar echoes caused by reflection from objects (as on the ground) other than the target.” As we work to make the most efficient use of the radio spectrum, including by sharing it, we need to better understand how radio spectrum interacts with real world environments, not just in a lab, in order to predict when and where interference might occur.  Imagine painting rings around a particular source showing how far out the signal is likely to travel and cause possible interference to other sources – the better our understanding of how the spectrum operates in various environments the narrower the “brush” we can use to paint those lines.  This means there will be less geography that must be protected against possible interference. 

One key issue that needs to be studied in more detail is “clutter,” which consists of environmental features such as buildings, other structures, and vegetation that cause signal loss due to scattering and absorption.