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COVID-19 Spectrum Occupancy Project


By conducting a narrowly targeted campaign of wireless activity at homes and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, we seek a more accurate understanding of American’s accessibility to broadband infrastructure.  The Communication Technology Laboratory (CTL) is driven by the understanding that a safe, secure, and equitably availability of wireless networks is key to a productive digital economy.     

Spectrum Monitoring Research Project


Collected from residential teleworking sites, hospitals, and public safety networks across the Colorado Front Range, the data will help CTL understand trends in spectrum usage during national emergencies.   

Gathered data will also work towards investment in the broader development of an infrastructure that is needed to assess the availability of radio spectrum as a shared public resource.  Data collection for this project focused on capturing the occupancy of the spectrum and not the source or destination of the data (i.e. personal information or content type). 


Monitoring sources 

  • Wireless bands: ISM, U-NII, cellular 

  • 21 frequencies covering low-band LTE, ISM, U-NII 

  • Continuous frequency sweeps produce average power across 
    4 MHz bandwidth in 0.5 ms bins 


  • 16 locations across the Colorado Front Range including residential and healthcare sites.  

  • The residential WLAN and LTE measurements were collected from the telework sites of participating NIST staff.

  • WLAN and LTE measurements at hospitals were collected outside of the buildings. 


The outcome of this project is to produce a report detailing:

  • the measurement technique, in support of similar future test efforts,
  • resulting data, and
  • an analysis of trends in the results.


Data collection was from Spring to Winter of 2020.  Analysis and reporting are expected to be complete by Fall 2021.   

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Created March 4, 2021, Updated February 21, 2023