National Physical Laboratory

Time & Frequency NPLTime ®

A resilient, traceable and certified time distribution service for the financial sector that completely eliminates reliance on GPS.

NPLTime ® offers the financial sector a certified precise time signal, directly traceable to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and independent of GPS. The core implementation and additional metrics provide the user with underpinning timing capability for traceable timestamping, latency monitoring and synchronisation. The signal is fully compliant with the MiFID II RTS 25 timing traceability requirement.

The resilient service completely eliminates reliance on GPS and removes susceptibility to jamming, spoofing, urban canyon effects and solar storms. It reduces the costs associated with managing a complex assortment of timing devices and the need to access roof space to locate GPS antennas.

As the home of the UK's National Timescale, UTC(NPL), and the caesium fountain, NPL CsF2 - a primary frequency standard accurate to within one second in 158 million years - NPL is perfectly placed to deliver precision timing services to demanding customers.

Key benefits of NPLTime ®

  • Risk mitigation
    • Not affected by solar storms, jamming, spoofing
    • Resilient close controlled solution
  • Simplicity of implementation
    • Time is consumed, not managed, leap seconds implemented as part of the solution
  • Maximises confidence in data timing
    • Ease of audit
    • Ensure accurate data release timing
    • Enhanced forensic and playback capability
    • Enhanced algo optimisation
  • Maximises benefit realisation of localised PTP infrastructure upgrades
    • Provides both absolute time and sync across implementations
    • Eases the requirement internally to achieve compliancy
    • Lower cost of infrastructure upgrade
  • Inherent synchronisation of multi-location implementations
    • NPLTime ® SLA everywhere
  • Eases measurement capability
    • Network optimisation and latency metrics
    • Simplistic tΒ-tΑ latency measurements

Key features of NPLTime ®

  • Certified by NPL
  • Compliant with MiFID II RTS 25
  • Precision timing distribution solution
  • No reliance on GPS or internet time
  • Directly traceable and certified to UTC at the point of provision, not the source
  • Eliminates susceptibility to GPS jamming, spoofing, urban canyon effects and solar storms
  • Uses fibre optic links, ensuring maximum resilience and security
  • Provides enhanced synchronisation
  • No roof access required
  • Built-in redundancy
  • Continuous monitoring and audit of traceability to UTC

A Factsheet on Time Traceability for the Finance Sector

This document aims to describe the key concepts that underpin the emerging requirements for accurate time-stamping of transactions in the financial sector. The topics covered include: the international time system and the importance of UTC; the concept of traceability for time measurements; and the terminology used for traceability in time dissemination and time stamping.

Whatever time source and dissemination method are used, they must provide traceability back to UTC. Traceability requires a continuous chain of comparisons with known uncertainties. The GPS satellite signals alone do not readily provide traceability to UTC, but users can demonstrate traceability by obtaining GPS monitoring bulletins from one of the regional UTC(k) timing centres.

There are two other requirements for demonstrating time traceability. One is for the timing equipment to be calibrated, so that its unknown internal delays do not bias its time output. The other is for the equipment to be monitored continuously, so that any fault or anomalous behaviour can be detected and the time output not used until the equipment is working correctly again.

White paper: NPLTime ® disseminated through the UBS infrastructure

A trial of the NPLTime ® commercial service was conducted at the UBS facility in LD4 Slough, where the signal was consumed and assessed within the UBS infrastructure to validate the source, internal distribution architecture and systems, and timestamping solutions. This white paper outlines the implementation and results of the trial from the NPLTime ® Distribution hub located at Telehouse, Docklands, and delivered to Slough on TMX Atrium connectivity.

The trial was carried out over a leap second implementation and included a period of fibre outage, demonstrating the resiliency of the service and engineered redundancy solutions. The time offset of the signal from UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) was measured by transportable disciplined caesium clocks from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

The NPLTime ® commercial service provides a time signal to the end user over optical fibre that is independent of GPS and certified by NPL as being traceable to UTC(NPL) at the end user. A trial of the service was conducted at the UBS facility in the LD4 datacentre in Slough, where the signal was consumed and assessed within the UBS infrastructure to validate the source, internal distribution architecture and systems, and timestamping solutions. The solution was proven to be capable of achieving approximately 100 nanosecond synchronisation to UTC(NPL).

White paper: NPLTime ® - certified time for the financial sector

With MiFID II due to be in place within two years, NPL and ICE have carried out a proof-of-concept to assess the NPLTime ® service for its suitability for the impending regulations.

Precision timekeeping underpins the modern world. Applications from telecommunications to satellite navigation, surveying and transport systems are underpinned by precise timing, and to enable these systems to operate correctly the same stable and accurate reference time scale must be in use everywhere.

There is no single master clock for the world - the consequences of it failing would be far too severe. Instead, the international time reference is maintained by 70 time laboratories around the world and is based on the average of some 400 atomic clocks. That diversity provides both resilience (the loss of a single clock or even a national time laboratory would have little effect) and accessibility (each major industrial nation contributes to the timescale, and hence has direct access to atomic time).

Latest News | News Archive


NPL's Leon Lobo presents an introduction to NPLTime ®


Leon Lobo discusses NPLTime ® with online magazine HFT Review


Please direct all enquiries to:

Leon Lobo
Strategic Business Development
Time & Frequency


Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission