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ITS Marks Next Milestone Toward Spectrum Sharing in 3.5 GHz

December 12, 2018 by NTIA

Engineers at NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) have completed performance certification lab testing of Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) equipment – the sensors that will help enable dynamic sharing in the 3.5 GHz band between U.S. Navy radars and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) devices.

Completing the testing marks another significant step toward making sharing in the 3.5 GHz band a reality. The innovative approach to spectrum management that also includes the Spectrum Access System (SAS) has the potential to make significant spectrum resources available to meet our national broadband needs while preserving access to this critical spectrum for naval operations.

The 3.5 GHz band offers a unique mix of capacity and coverage capabilities, making it a potential ‘sweet spot’ for innovative services including 5G. The SAS-ESC combination successfully unlocking dynamic sharing could provide new tools in NTIA’s efforts to advance the nation’s 21st century spectrum imperatives while protecting vital federal missions.

Digital Divide Among School-Age Children Narrows, but Millions Still Lack Internet Connections

December 11, 2018 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

America continues to make significant strides in reducing the digital divide among school-age children, according to NTIA’s November 2017 Internet Use Survey. In 2017, 14 percent of the U.S. population between ages 6 and 17 lived in homes with no Internet service, down from 19 percent in 2015 (see Figure 1). These are encouraging numbers that echo our previous report on the narrowing digital divide.

Figure 1: School-Age Children Lacking Internet Service at Home

Still, significant challenges remain, especially for the approximately 7 million school-age children that lived in households without home Internet service in 2017. These children were also less likely than their peers to use the Internet from other locations.

Among children in offline households, just 16 percent went online while at school, and only 5 percent used the Internet from a library or community center, compared with 60 percent and 20 percent of children with home Internet service, respectively. In fact, only 20 percent of school-age children living in offline households used the Internet at all, leaving nearly 6 million of the 7 million children even less connected as schools increasingly rely upon online resources for communication with parents and instruction.

NTIA Asks Federal Agencies to Assess Future Spectrum Needs

November 30, 2018 by NTIA

As a critical step in delivering on President Trump’s call for development of a national spectrum strategy, NTIA has asked federal agencies to report their future spectrum needs over the next 15 years. The reports will help ensure the federal government is optimizing utilization of the nation’s spectrum resources and meeting the needs of spectrum users, including critical federal missions that serve the American public. Agencies must submit their initial reports by Feb. 21, 2019 and provide final reports by April 23, 2019.

The federal spectrum assessment is one of several tasks in the Presidential Memorandum aimed at building a sustainable, forward-looking national strategy to ensure America’s continued leadership across technology sectors. Transparency in how spectrum is being utilized and collaboration among stakeholders are key elements of the Administration’s approach.  

To that end, NTIA intends to post a public summary of the reports on its website to the extent permitted by law.

For further information, see the memorandum and guidance document.

Road Map: Building a More Resilient Internet

November 29, 2018 by Diane Rinaldo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, and Kevin Stine, Chief of the Applied Cybersecurity Division in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Information Technology Laboratory

Botnets and automated, distributed attacks threaten our nation’s Internet infrastructure. Solving this and other cybersecurity challenges is a top priority for the Trump Administration.

To address these threats, the Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security have developed a road map that charts a path forward, setting out steps to stop the cyber threat to our internet infrastructure. It outlines a plan for coordination among government, civil society, technologists, academics, and industry sectors to develop a comprehensive strategy for fighting these threats.

The road map builds on the Botnet Report published by the departments in May as required by the Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure. The government and private sector spent a year developing the report in an open and transparent process. The report maps out an ecosystem-wide view of the botnet threat, and lays out actions that could dramatically reduce the threat of botnets and similar attacks.

ITS Releases Best Practices Handbook for Propagation Measurements

November 26, 2018 by NTIA

Behind every initiative to share spectrum are models of how radio waves in a particular band travel, or propagate, through different environments. How far will a signal travel before it becomes too faint to be useful or to interfere with another signal? What happens when a signal encounters a tree, or a hill, or a house? If we can accurately model how radio waves will behave, it can dramatically increase the odds that sharing mechanisms will work.

Accurately measuring real-world spectrum usage and the performance of spectrum-dependent systems is the best way to improve and validate propagation models. NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) has been a primary resource in designing and conducting measurement campaigns, applying its decades of experience to ensuring measurements are accurate and provide meaningful data.

Now, ITS is releasing a handbook of best practices for propagation measurements, outlining how to calibrate, document, verify, and validate these measurements.

This handbook – “Best Practices for Radio Propagation Measurements” – builds on working papers developed while ITS was working with the Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) to help improve propagation models used by the DSO’s Spectrum Sharing Test & Demonstration program.   

NTIA Co-Hosts Summit for Carolinas’ HBCUs on Enhancing Broadband Opportunities

November 23, 2018 by Maureen Lewis, NTIA Director of Minority Telecommunications Development

Exemplifying the power of partnerships, NTIA recently teamed up with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Johnson C. Smith University to convene a broadband summit for HBCUs in North and South Carolina. On Nov. 15-17, faculty and administrators from 17 of the states’ combined 19 HBUCs, as well as government and industry representatives, gathered in Charlotte, N.C., for the fifth annual meeting of the Carolinas Alliance for Success in Education (CASE).

The summit’s title, “Smart HBCUs Disrupting the Digital Divide: Connecting Campuses to Communities through Broadband,” reflected a focus on the technology’s ability to fuel HBCUs as engines of economic growth.  Former Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn opened the summit by challenging the audience to exploit broadband connectivity to leverage the legacy of HBUCs as essential community anchors that educate students and serve their neighboring communities. 

Jonathan Holifield, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, emphasized the integral role of HBCUs in advancing America’s global competiveness.  He urged North and South Carolina HBCUs to prepare students to become “dual pipelines of productivity” as higher impact employees creating value for their employers and higher growth entrepreneurs of innovative enterprises.

NTIA Closes First Phase of Grant Program that Laid Groundwork for FirstNet

November 06, 2018 by Marsha MacBride, Associate Administrator of the Office of Public Safety Communications

As public safety agencies around the country take advantage of FirstNet, the first nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), NTIA is marking the end of a grant program that helped lay the groundwork for FirstNet’s success.

In 2013, NTIA awarded $116.5 million in grants to 54 U.S. states and territories under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP). The funding helped prepare recipients for consultation with FirstNet, and allowed recipients to conduct stakeholder outreach to better understand the needs of public safety stakeholders.

In less than five years, SLIGP grant recipients engaged more than 350,000 stakeholders, facilitated more than 2,700 governance and planning meetings, and distributed more than 6 million resources, including guides, pamphlets, briefing sheets and e-newsletters.

Tennessee used their SLIGP funding to develop a “scorecard” website to motivate stakeholders to complete training that would prepare them for optimal participation in the NPSBN. Texas created informational videos and an e-learning portal for public safety broadband, which helped keep stakeholders informed and engaged. 

Moving Closer to Making Spectrum Sharing at 3.5 GHz a Reality

November 05, 2018 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) to accommodate sharing in the 3.5 GHz band between incumbent users — mostly Navy radar systems — and a variety of new commercial users.

The technology that will power this sharing, a new kind of dynamic spectrum access system, didn’t exist when the FCC adopted the rulemaking three years ago. To help test this technology as it was being developed, the FCC sought out the independent technical expertise of NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS). The data gathered via these laboratory tests will be provided to the FCC to support its certification processes for eventual CBRS field operations.

We have made significant progress in our work on testing the two technical linchpins of these CBRS systems:  Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) sensors and Spectrum Access Systems (SAS). The ESC sensors are designed to alert the associated SASs when Federal radar systems are operating in the band, so that the SAS can take immediate action to manage the CBRS devices to prevent interference.

ITS has released a study guide for Spectrum Access System testing via GitHub. The guide consists of samples of tests that will be conducted on Spectrum Access Systems. The tests will include a wide variety of scenarios and situations to test the systems’ ability to manage CBRS devices.

Recipe for Innovation: NTIA’s Role in Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

October 25, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Protecting intellectual property rights is a critical government responsibility that helps grow our economy. It is equally as important to ensure that measures intended to protect these rights aren’t misused to stifle innovation or the free flow of information.

NTIA advises the U.S. Copyright Office every three years on proposed exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) prohibition against circumventing copyright protection technologies. These exemptions enable teachers to use short video clips in the classroom, facilitate valuable cybersecurity research, and allow consumers to repair their own vehicles without infringing on copyrights. They help balance intellectual property rights and the right to make non-infringing uses of lawfully obtained works, both of which are critical to innovation.

Today, the Librarian of Congress issued the latest set of exemptions, based on recommendations from the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office’s recommendations were thoughtful, balanced, and based on the record and the law, and NTIA is pleased with the results of the rulemaking process.

The President’s National Spectrum Strategy Will Give America a Boost in 5G

October 25, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

The demand for more spectrum capacity is intense, and its wise allocation is a top priority as our nation builds out fifth generation (5G) wireless networks. By 2021, Cisco projects that global mobile data traffic will increase sevenfold, with 5G generating 4.7 times more traffic than 4G.

5G promises new capabilities and possibilities for our Nation’s innovators. Americans, ever the pioneers, are pushing forth a renaissance in space exploration and development, with our commercial satellite industry continuing to flourish and creating thousands of new jobs.

Meanwhile, federal agencies require access to spectrum to support 21st century missions that protect our nation, make transportation safer, and pave the way for vital scientific research.

To put it mildly, we have our work cut out for us as we address all these diverse and important needs.

To meet this challenge, President Trump has called for a comprehensive national strategy for managing spectrum resources. This strategy will help ensure America’s national and economic security and fortify our continued leadership in wireless communications technologies. The Presidential Memorandum addresses immediate needs and sets goals that will carry us well into the future, so our nation can build a long-term, sustainable spectrum access framework.