Critical Infrastructure Protection & Resilience North America

Michael Cotton

Michael Cotton
Supervisory Electronics Engineer
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
United States

Mr. Cotton is Division Chief of the Telecommunications Theory Division and program leader of NTIA’s Spectrum Monitoring Program at the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. Michael joined NTIA/ITS in 1992. He has been involved in a broad range of research topics including applied electromagnetics, atmospheric effects on radiowave propagation, radio channel measurement and theory, interference effects on digital receivers, ultrawideband technologies, spectrum sharing with Federal systems, and spectrum occupancy measurements. Michael has received DOC Gold Medal Awards for research and engineering achievement in the development of national policies for UWB technologies in 2002 and 3.5 GHz spectrum sharing in 2015. In 2010 and 2011, Mr. Cotton was the General Chair for the International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) on Developing Forward-Thinking Rules and Processes to Fully Exploit Spectrum Resources. Michael has authored or co–authored over thirty technical publications. He received a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1992 and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on electromagnetics in 1999, both from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Presentation: Situational Awareness of the Wireless Environment

Government and commercial wireless assets are vulnerable to intentional and unintentional jamming and interference. The growth and stability of wireless ecosystem depends on real-time awareness of the radio frequency (RF) environment and modern spectrum enforcement tools.

Spectrum monitoring is long-term, continuous measurement of the RF environment from multiple sensors, providing real-time information about the use of radio frequencies across broad areas and enabling observation of historical trends and events. Broadly, it involves three components: (1) Operating hardware that is capable of sensing radio signals, (2) Transmitting data about radio signals from the sensors to a database using networking infrastructure, and (3) Employing the resulting spectrum data in data analytics and visualization to characterize the sources and strengths of radio signals, and to identify potential conflicts among them.

NTIA/ITS is involved in both monitoring spectrum use and conducting research to develop best practices in spectrum monitoring tools and techniques. The purpose of the NTIA’s Spectrum Monitoring Program is to provide spectrum managers with more effective monitoring and advanced data visualization, enabling them to access information on spectrum use at a level of detail that was previously unattainable. Examples of such information include:
• potential interference events identified with a specified level of confidence;
• actual spectrum use compared with assignment and license information;
• occupancy statistics for different frequency bands;
• spectrum maps for visualizing spectrum use and locating signal sources;
• spectrum efficiency data (used to compare usage before and after rule changes); and
• statistics on manmade interference sources.