BOULDER - The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Wednesday announced that Kent Rochford has been hired to head the new Communication Technology Laboratory in Boulder.

NIST's CTL is part of the Center for Advanced Communications, a joint effort between NIST and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration launched last year. The NTIA side of the CAC is the Public Safety Communications Research Laboratory that has been operating at NIST for about five years.

The CTL is just getting ramped up with Rochford's hire, and it remains to be seen how many people the CTL will employ and whether those people will be new hires or whether they'll be brought onboard from other departments at NIST.

Rochford has previously served at different points as chief of NIST's Optoelectronics Division, director of the NIST Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory, and Boulder Laboratory Operations Director.

The collaboration between the PSCR and CTL is meant to advance understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum and innovative ways of sharing the spectrum. PSCR does fundamental research on emergency responder communications. The CTL will work to apply standards to that research as it relates to how communications equipment interacts and operates.

The ramping up of the CTL comes at the same time that the NTIA is establishing the technical headquarters for its First Responders Network Authority, or FirstNet, in Boulder. FirstNet is an independent authority that is working to create a nationwide broadband wireless network dedicated to public safety agencies. It will be working closely with the PSCR for research and testing of equipment to be used on the network.