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MBI Helps HBCUs and TCUs Navigate Distance Learning Regulations

December 22, 2020 by NTIA

NTIA’s Minority Broadband Initiative (MBI), in partnership with the United States Distance Learning Association and the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, recently held a teleconference to brief Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) on new Department of Education distance learning regulations due to be implemented July 1, 2021.

Participants included 256 representatives of 63 HBCUs and 24 TCUs, including distance learning coordinators, chief academic officers, chief information officers and faculty. In addition, the presidents of several institutions attended the teleconference.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges also described how the accreditation process is adapting to challenges facing schools during the pandemic. A representative from the Center for Higher Education Transformation stressed that these changes should be made consistently and that our regulatory system should help promote innovation in higher education rather than make it more difficult.

You can watch the teleconference in its entirety. For more information about the MBI, or to learn more about NTIA, follow us on Twitter @NTIAgov or visit our website at



NTIA Pursues Innovative Spectrum Sharing Plan That Could Deliver Boost to 5G

December 15, 2020 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC) graphic

Wireless broadband service providers want more spectrum – and quickly – to meet ever-growing consumer demand and deploy more advanced 5G networks. Federal agencies continue to answer that call by enabling commercial access to sizable amounts of repurposed spectrum. To accomplish federal missions critical to our country, however, government agencies also need secure access to spectrum. Easy solutions to this demand are as scarce as spectrum itself – but a promising innovation soon may help. 

What if federal spectrum could be shared in some instances where agencies use it only episodically or in limited areas? That is the idea behind an innovative dynamic spectrum-sharing concept that NTIA is pioneering in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD). The project, called Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC), builds on advances that would give accelerated spectrum access to commercial 5G networks while still allowing federal agencies to accomplish their critical spectrum-dependent missions. 

More than Half of American Households Used the Internet for Health-Related Activities in 2019, NTIA Data Show

December 07, 2020 by Michelle Cao, Intern, and Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Telemedicine and telehealth-related activities are on the rise, according to NTIA’s November 2019 Internet Use Survey, which found that more households are using the Internet to communicate with health professionals, access health records, and research health information.

Because the survey was conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it provides an important baseline for understanding the prevalence of telehealth usage among American households and the importance of Internet access for essential services.

The proportion of households that accessed health or health insurance records online grew from 30 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2019 (see Figure 1). Households communicating with a doctor or other health professional online grew by two percentage points, and households that researched health information online grew by one percentage point between 2017 and 2019.

Figure 1: Percent of Households Using the Internet for Health-Related Activities, 2017-2019

Our data reveal that telehealth and telemedicine users tend to have higher incomes, more education, and live in metropolitan areas. An Internet-using household in which the reference person lacked a high school diploma was half as likely as one with some college experience to research health information, such as with WebMD or similar services. The reference person is the first individual in each household who is identified as owning or renting the housing unit.

NTIA Trusted Propagation Models Help Expand Commercial Wireless Services

October 16, 2020 by Sheryl Genco, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

Behind every wireless telecommunications decision is a prediction of how far the signal will travel and how much strength it will lose along the way. This is called propagation modelling. Propagation models drive decisions about things like how and where to deploy cell towers, what rules to establish for geographically sharing spectrum, and what kind of spectrum equipment to build. It is vital that all stakeholders trust the models being used and accept the results as sound.

This month, NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), the nation’s spectrum and communications lab, released a new official code base for the Irregular Terrain Model (ITM) for use by experts and non-experts alike.

The Federal Communications Commission Report and Order opening the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi and other unlicensed uses requires that ITM be used by the automated frequency coordination  system designed to protect incumbents from commercial entrants. Under the Commission’s ruling, at specific distances ITM must be used with an appropriate clutter model as one of the factors when determining exclusion zones to protect incumbent services.

NTIA’s 2020 Spectrum Policy Symposium Spotlights Benefits of Sharing, Collaboration

October 13, 2020 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

NTIA’s 2020 Spectrum Policy Symposium showcased how private-sector innovation and government support are working to advance America’s longtime leadership in wireless technologies. The third annual symposium, held virtually on September 22, brought together a broad cross-section of government policymakers and experts in the telecommunications, tech, space and aerospace industries. It featured keynote remarks from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) Director Kelvin Droegemeier, and Acting NTIA Administrator Adam Candeub.

BroadbandUSA Announces New Digital Inclusion Webpage

October 05, 2020 by NTIA

NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program has added a new digital inclusion section to its website.  This webpage compiles resources and program information from federal agencies as well as state and local governments that are working across the country to close gaps in broadband adoption and use, affordability, access to devices, and digital skills.  NTIA is particularly pleased to announce this resource during Digital Inclusion Week.

This new online resource reflects BroadbandUSA’s efforts to promote digital inclusion through technical assistance, webinars, federal partnerships, and the BroadbandUSA Digital Inclusion Leaders Network (DILN) – a cohort of local and state government practitioners who share priorities and best practices.  The digital inclusion webpage includes a Federal Resource list containing information about digital inclusion programs, publications, and data to complement the federal funding information in the BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide.

Nearly a Third of American Employees Worked Remotely in 2019, NTIA Data Show

September 03, 2020 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

This summer, NTIA reported initial results from our latest NTIA Internet Use Survey, which showed that Americans were increasingly using a larger and more varied range of devices. But with dozens of topics covered in the survey, there is a lot more we can learn from this data collection, including questions about online activities such as checking email, watching videos and participating in the sharing economy.

Two online activities of particular importance right now are remote work and taking online classes. Our data show that approximately 51 million Americans reported using the Internet to work remotely in 2019, nearly a third of the estimated 160 million Americans who were employed in November. A smaller number, about 43 million Americans, said they used the Internet to take classes or complete job training last year. That represents about 20 percent of Internet users ages 15 or older.

Although our survey was conducted in November 2019, a few months before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the results can be helpful to understanding the extent to which Americans were prepared to work and learn online.

Working Remotely

NTIA Announces 2020 Spectrum Policy Symposium

September 22, 2020 by NTIA

On September 22, NTIA will virtually host its annual Spectrum Policy Symposium. The Symposium will bring together experts from academia, private industry, and government to tackle the nation’s most pressing spectrum management challenges.    

The Symposium is preceded by significant spectrum progress at NTIA and the Trump administration. In August, the White House announced the availability of an additional 100 MHz of spectrum following an NTIA 3450-3550 MHz band repurposing study. NTIA research is exploring potential repurposing in the 3100-3450 MHz band and has also helped lead to the current Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band auction.

Admission is free and open to the public via the NTIA website. For additional information or questions, email

ITS Challenges Creators to Enhance Computer Vision for Public Safety

August 25, 2020 by Sheryl Genco, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

For decades, NTIA’s research laboratory, the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), has been working alongside the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research program (PSCR) and the public safety community to enhance mission-critical communications. First, it was all about intelligible voice communications. But first responders now have access to equipment and networks that support video and image transmission as well.

Streaming video could help an incident commander coordinate firefighters, for example. However, the challenge is that fire response is fast—about 3 minutes for a single-family dwelling. Deploying and coordinating helmet-cam feeds from 25 firefighters will only be practical with the aid of computer vision and video analytics, which are currently just out of reach.

Today’s off-the-shelf cameras come with many image-quality problems. Think of a door’s peep hole: you look through it and see a backlit person or just the arm of someone standing too far to the side. It would be great to have something between you and the peephole that fixes these problems.

Spectrum Sharing: An Emerging Success

August 19, 2020 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

AWS-3 Indefinite Sharing and Coordination Sites

The Trump Administration has engaged in significant efforts to ensure that the U.S. leads the world in 5G, which promises to be an essential driver of our economy for years to come. This month, building on technical analysis by NTIA engineers, the Administration announced that an additional 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum would be made available for 5G deployment.

As part of its key responsibilities, NTIA works with the Federal Communications Commission and federal agencies to make sufficient spectrum available to enable wireless service providers to meet the ever-increasing demand for advanced services while also ensuring agencies have access to the spectrum they need to perform critical federal missions.