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Advanced communications

NIST promotes the development and deployment of advanced communications technologies by advancing the measurement science underlying wireless technologies for higher speeds, better connections and more pervasive access to communications systems.

Secure, reliable, high-speed wireless communications are critical to the economic and national competitiveness of the United States. Advanced communications are enabling dramatic changes in how consumers, manufacturers, governments and others provide and consume information, transact business, provide and use essential services, and shop, among other tasks. Gartner forecasts that there will be approximately 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020, up from the estimated 6.4 billion connected devices currently in place. This insatiable societal demand for connectivity will require significant advancements in communication technologies.  

NIST’s role in advanced communication includes:

  • the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN), which is organizing a national network of Federal, academic and commercial test facilities that will provide the testing, modeling and analyses needed to develop and deploy spectrum-sharing facilities;
  • the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, which is leading the development of the standards and performing the associated research, development and testing to provide the public safety community access to a dedicated, nationwide LTE broadband network (FirstNet);
  • Developing and improving the measurement tools and technologies that will improve spectrum utilization, and the novel spectrum sharing techniques, to address the current spectrum crunch; and
  • Providing the measurements and data needed for the development of the next generation of wireless communications systems and the improvement of optical communication technologies.

Mission Critical Voice Communications: Your Life May Depend on It!

firefighter speaks into a handheld radio
Credit: sirtravelalot/

First responders need reliable communications to respond quickly to an emergency involving you or your loved ones. Tim Thompson and several of his colleagues on the Public Safety Communications Research division's Mission Critical Voice team are developing methods to equitably measure the performance of voice communications systems such as radio and push-to-talk over cellular networks. Read more in his blog post.

News and Updates

Industry Impacts

Alliance for 5G Networks

The next generation of wireless communications technology will allow many more devices to send information much faster, making possible everything from virtual

Projects and Programs

High-Speed Electronics

This project supports the microwave, telecommunications, computing, and emerging nanoelectronics industries through research and development of high-frequency

3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing

Application of deep learning algorithms to 3.5 GHz spectrograms to characterize incumbent federal radar emissions.

Fiber Sources and Applications

Optical frequency combs convert a laser source containing a single frequency of light into pulses that include thousands of frequencies. This project aims to