The Radio Referenced NTP Server

Using a long wave time and frequency transmission is perhaps the simplest and most efficient way of receiving an accurate and secure UTC timing reference (coordinated universal time). Dedicated NTP servers are available that receive a time code this way and distribute the timing information to a network. Often these time servers are referred to as radio clocks, although this title is a little misleading.

The long wave transmissions are usually broadcast at 60 khz but are not available everywhere. Only certain countries have these broadcasts and most come from their country of origin’s national physics laboratory.

In the UK the signal is known as MSF as is broadcast by the NPL (National Physical Laboratory) in Cumbria. The USA signal, WWVB, is broadcast Near Fort Collins in Colorado while the signal in Germany is known as DCF and is broadcast near to Frankfurt. Other nations such as Switzerland, Japan and Finland also have their own signals.

These transmissions are not however, available everywhere. While in many neighbouring countries it is possible to receive one of these transmissions, the long-wave signal is finite in range and susceptible to interference from topography and other electrical devices

However, where they are available, these time and frequency signals make an ideal source for a NTP server to synchronise a network too making them a logical choice for securing UTC time.

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