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NIST and NTIA to Establish New Center for Advanced Communications

BOULDER, COLO. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced plans to establish a national Center for Advanced Communications in Boulder. The new center will implement a key provision of a memorandum President Obama issued Friday on “Expanding America’s Leadership in Wireless Innovation.”

The two agencies recently signed a Memo of Understanding to collaborate on the establishment of the center. The MOU states that the center will leverage the “critical mass of NIST and NTIA research and engineering capabilities concentrated in Boulder” to form a “unique national asset,” and includes the infrastructure and collaborative environment needed to address a wide range of advanced communications challenges. This joint effort will increase the impact of existing efforts already under way in both agencies.

“Advanced communication technologies drive product development in telecommunications, IT, energy, and many other critical economic sectors. This new center will combine NIST’s and NTIA’s research and technology support for U.S. industry so that it can rapidly evaluate and exploit exciting new opportunities in the field,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. 

A key focus of the center will be to promote interdisciplinary research, development and testing in radio frequency technology and spectrum sharing for public safety and commercial broadband applications.

“NIST and NTIA have longstanding, productive programs in this economically important field,” noted Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling. “By creating a center that optimizes our combined resources, we can focus on testing and measurement to support spectrum sharing between industry and government agencies, allowing for more efficient use of spectrum by all.”

The Presidential Memo directs the Secretary of Commerce, through NTIA and NIST, to publish an inventory and description of federal test facilities available to commercial and other stakeholders engaged in research, development, testing and evaluation of technologies to enhance spectrum sharing and other wireless related efficiencies.

Examples of the specific types of research, facilities and other activities at the new center may include:

  • multiuser test beds that allow government and industry researchers to realistically measure and evaluate the performance of new advanced communications technologies;
  • targeted interdisciplinary research, development and testing projects in fields such as digital information processing, interoperability and quantum communications; and
  • outreach to international standards development organizations to help ensure compatibility of U.S. advanced communications efforts with the global marketplace.