NIST’s Communication Technology Laboratory (CTL) serves as an independent, unbiased arbiter of trusted measurements and standards to government and industry. We focus our efforts in three primary program areas, all of which are establishing vital technological foundations for the ongoing wireless revolution.
Too often in critical situations, communications among public safety agencies are hampered by interoperability problems largely due to the lack of a common approach to public safety communications.
NIST CTL’s Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) laboratories provide research, development, testing, and evaluation to foster nationwide communications interoperability. Drawing on critical requirements provided by public safety practitioners, the PSCR program provides insight to wireline and wireless standards committees developing standards for voice, data, image, and video communications.
Spectrum sharing will require wireless communication devices and/or centralized spectrum management systems to be smart enough to determine who “owns” the spectrum, whether the primary user is occupying it at a particular moment in time and for how long, and how the secondary user would like to use some portion of that spectrum at a particular moment and location. CTL is supporting government and industry spectrum-sharing efforts through three major research thrusts.
CTL’s spectrum sensing and monitoring work develops the tools to precisely understand what channels of a spectrum band are available, when and where.
CTL’s spectrum coordination work focuses on practical solutions enabling diverse wireless systems and user types – most prominently, federal and commercial users – to effectively, equitably and securely share spectrum.
CTL’s test and evaluation work supports the lab’s spectrum sensing and monitoring and spectrum coordination efforts by developing technologies, metrics and test methods critical to the success of spectrum sharing.
The NASCTN launched in 2015 to organize a national network of federal, academic, and commercial test facilities to provide testing, modeling and analysis to support spectrum sharing and inform future spectrum policy and regulations.
CTL is establishing the foundations for future 5G wireless systems on several fronts, from defining 5G millimeter-wave radio channels to developing metrology capable of assessing the performance and accuracy of super-fast signal processors that don’t yet exist, to understanding the behaviors of the complex antennas needed to realize the next stage of mobile-wireless’s continued evolution.
CTL’s millimeter-wave metrology work encompasses four major research areas, all focusing on supporting the development of 5G wireless infrastructure.
- Our mmWave channel measurement and modeling efforts include mmWave spectrum characterization and channel sounding as well as leading the international 5G mmWave Channel Model Alliance to support the rapid development of new channels at frequencies into the hundreds of gigahertz.
- CTL is working on new mmWave protocols capable of supporting the kinds of transmission frequencies and data rates envisioned for 5G.
- Our mmWave traceability work characterizes signal processors operating at speeds in the tens of gigahertz and beyond.
- CTL’s transistor and nonlinear devices measurement work develops large-signal network arrays (LSNAs) to characterize high-power transistors and other nonlinear devices beyond the grasp of conventional testing instrumentation and models.
CTL characterizes and develops test methods for massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antennas capable of supporting the gigabit frequencies of 5G.
CTL’s work in ultra-dense networking includes developing new channel models, propagation models and signal-processing models, as well as researching approaches to handling how nodes of ultra-dense networks manage users moving within or among ultra-dense networks.