Maintaining accurate and synchronised time has never been so important for businesses and organisations. In today’s world, where so many transactions take place online, having a synchronised and accurate network time is crucial for businesses, especially those organisations that conduct their business over the internet or with other computer networks.
The accuracy of modern Olympic timing is made possible with the use of high quality timing devices, accurate synchronisation and atomic timing. Regular quartz oscillators are fairly accurate, but they still drift, which means without regular synchronisation, their accuracy would falter UY98UZDDVGGJ . To ensure all timing devices can achieve millisecond accuracy and precise synchronisation with one another, all Olympic timing devices are synchronised with GPS atomic clocks several times a day.
A GPS time server is ideal for preventing costly leap seconds that interrupt businesses that operate on a global timescale.
NTP GPS time servers are becoming an essential tool for business networks. With the ability to synchronise hundreds of computer, switches and routers, an NTP GPS time server can keep a network accurate to within a few milliseconds of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).
As the name suggests, GPS time servers receive their time from the GPS system (Global Positioning System). The GPS signal is basically just a time code sent down from the satellites’ onboard atomic clocks. This time signal is what satellite navigation systems use to triangulate positioning, but because it is generated by atomic clocks is extremely accurate and precise.
Perhaps the safest and most accurate means of obtaining a time source is by utilising the time codes transmitted by the GPS (Global Positioning System). All that is required for picking up these GPS signals is a GPS NTP server, which will not only receive the time code, but also distribute it around the network, check for drift and maintain stable and precise time on all machines.
To synchronise a computer network or other technology systems to GPS time, all that is required is a GPS network time server. GPS network time servers are simple to install, simple to use and can maintain accuracy for all sorts of technologies. Used by organisations as diverse as stock exchanges, air traffic control and banking systems, GPS time servers provide an efficient and cost effective solution to maintain network synchronicity.
An increase in GPS ‘attacks’ has been causing some concern amongst the scientific community. GPS, whilst a highly accurate and reliable system of transmitting time and positing information, relies on very weak signals that are being hampered by interference from the Earth.
Both unintentional interference such as from pirate radio stations or intentional deliberate ‘jamming’ by criminals is still rare but as technology that can hamper GPS signals becomes more readily available, the situation is expected to get worse.
And while the effects of signal failure of the GPS system may have obvious results for people who use it for navigation (ending up in the wrong location or getting lost) it could have more serious and profound repercussions for the technologies that rely on GPS for time signals.
As so many technologies now rely on GPS timing signals from telephone networks, the internet, banking and traffic lights and even our power grid any signal failure no matter how briefly, could cause serious problems.
The main problem with the GPS signal is that it is very weak and as it comes from space bound satellites, little can be done to boost the signal so any similar frequency being broadcast in a local area can easily drown out GPS.
However, GPS is not the only accurate and secure method of receiving the time from an atomic clock source. Many national physics laboratories from across the globe broadcast atomic clock signals via radio waves (usually long wave). In the USA these signals are broadcast by NIST (National Institute for Standards and Time (known as WWVB) whilst in the UK, it’s MSF signal is broadcast by NPL (National Physical Laboratory).
Dual time servers that can receive both signals are available and are a safer bet for any high technology company that can’t afford to risk losing a time signal.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an increasingly popular tool, used throughout the world as a source of wayfinding and navigation. However, there is much more to the GPS network than just satellite navigation as the transmissions broadcast by the GPS satellites can also be used as a highly accurate source of time.
GPS satellites are actually just orbiting clocks as each one contains atomic clocks that generate a time signal. It is the time signal that is broadcast by the GPS satellites that satellite navigation receivers in cars and planes use to work out distance and position.
Positioning is only possible because thee time signals are so accurate. Vehicle sat navs for instance use the signals from four orbiting satellites and triangulate the information to work out the position. However, if there is just one second inaccuracy with one of the time signals then the positing information could be thousands of miles out – proving useless.
It is testament to the accuracy of atomic clocks used to generate GPS signals that currently a GPS receiver can work out its position on earth to within five metres.
Because GPS satellites are so accurate, they make an ideal source of time to synchronise a computer network to. Strictly speaking GPS time differs from the international timescale UTC (coordinated Universal Time) as UTC has had additional leap seconds added to it to ensure parity with the earth’s rotation meaning it is exactly 18 seconds ahead of GPS but is easily converted by NTP the time synchronisation protocol (Network Time Protocol).
GPS time servers receive the GPS time signal via a GPS antenna which has to be placed on the roof to receive the line of sight transmissions. Once the GPS signal is received the NTP GPS time server will distribute the signal to all devices on the NTP network and corrects any drift on individual machines.
GPS time servers are dedicated easy to use devices and can ensure millisecond accuracy to UTC without any of the security risks involved in using an internet time source.
When it comes to synchronizing a computer network there are several choice to ensure each device is running the same time. NTP (Network Time Protocol) is the preferred choice of time synchronization protocols but there are a multitude of methods in how NTP receives the time.
The NTP Daemon is installed on most operating systems such as windows and applications such as Windows Time are quite capable of receiving a source of UTC time (Coordinated Universal Time) from across the internet.
UTC time is the preferred time source used by computer networks as it is kept true by atomic clocks. UTC, as the name suggests, is also universal and is used by computer networks all over the world as a source to synchronize too.
However, internet sources of UTC are to recommended for any organisation where security and accuracy are a concern. Not only can the distant from host (internet time server) to the client (your computer network) can never be accurately measured leading to a drop in precision. Furthermore, any source of internet time will need access through the firewall (usually through the UDP 123 port). And by leaving this port open, malicious users and hackers can take advantage and gain access to the system.
Dedicated NTP time servers are a better solution as they receive the time from an external source. There are really two types of NTP server, the radio reference time server and the GPS time server.
Radio reference time servers use signals broadcast by places like NPL (National Physical Laboratory in the UK) or NIST (National Institute of Standards and Time). While these signals are extremely accurate, precise and secure they are affected by regular maintenance on the transmitters that broadcast the signal. Also being long wave they are vulnerable to local interference.
GPS time servers on the other hand receive the time directly from GPS satellites. This GPS time is easily converted to UTC by NTP (GPS time is UTC – 17 seconds exactly as no leap seconds have been added.) As the GPS signal is available everywhere on the earth 24 hours a day, 365 days a week, there is never a risk of a loss of signal.
A single dedicated GPS time server can synchronize a computer network of hundreds, and even thousands of machines to within a few of milliseconds of UTC time.