Building National Timing Grid

Critical infrastructure

Time and timing distribution has become increasingly important for Critical Infrastructure sectors such as communications, energy, transportation, emergency services, financial services, and cloud data centers. The actual source of time information is most often provided by the so called “Grandmaster clock”, which is essentially a high quality frequency source (atomic clocks) combined with a steering GNSS receiver to produce legally recognized UTC time. Now, such high quality Grandmaster clocks provide great value to their owners, but in case they receive inaccurate or wrong information from the steering GNSS receiver, their stability could become unpredictable.

Due to this over-reliance on GNSS any GNSS failure could have a potential to adversely impact national economy. A study done in UK showed a price tag of £1 billion per day for a five day disruption. The report assumes telecom networks have long holdover capabilities (> 5 days).

A cost distribution per segment during 5 days of GNSS disruption. Total price tag is £1 billion per day.


National Timing Grid

National Timing Grid aims to combine, or rather interlink as many of atomic clocks as possible to establish a National Timing Grid. We are hoping to bring on board any party that has a caesium atomic clock available for contribution of clock data remotely.

The benefits of such a grid are:

  • Near real time tracking of stability against other atomic clocks – early warnings in case of performance degradation.
  • Direct traceability to UTC through UTC(NSAI) instead of UTC through GNSS (e.g., UTC(NIST) through GPS time).
  • Improved holdover in case of GNSS degradation through a common timescale observation and steering.
  • GNSS time stability observation (GPS, Galileo, BeiDou, GLONASS) and failure detection.

We assume that participants, such as National Metrology Laboratories, will have the above benefits for free – no costs involved. Private companies and institutions can participate for a yearly fee. The fee will depend on the specific Service Level of Agreement and type of service required.

There are also requirements on the time dissemination equipment (e.g. atomic clock quality, GNSS receiver, etc.). The details are explained in the attached slides. Note that the slides are related to establishing of Ireland’s National Timing Grid, yet the principles of building of a National Timing Grid are quite generic.

Please let us know if you are interested at the following email address. We would be more than happy to arrange an opportunity to discuss this prospect with you further subject to your availability.