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Time and frequency

MSF radio time signal

Accurate and reliable time

The MSF radio signal is a dedicated standard-frequency and time broadcast that provides an accurate and reliable source of UK civil time. It is available 24 hours a day across the whole of the UK and beyond. The signal operates on a frequency of 60 kHz and carries a time and date code that can be received and decoded by a wide range of readily-available radio-controlled clocks.

The MSF signal is transmitted from Anthorn Radio Station in Cumbria by Babcock International, under contract to NPL. The signal covers the whole of the UK, and can also be received throughout most of northern and western Europe. It is monitored against the national time scale UTC(NPL) and corrected when necessary, ensuring that the transmitted time is always correct.

Technical information

Find out more detailed technical information about the MSF time code, signal strength and carrier frequency accuracy.

MSF Reception Difficulties

The main causes of reception problems are local interference from electrical equipment and a reduced local signal due to screening by nearby metalwork, for example in a steel-framed building. If your radio-controlled clock is having difficulty receiving the MSF signal, please first read through the information in the 'Common clock problems' document.

Common MSF signal reception problems


MSF Signal Outages and Scheduled Maintenance Periods

A scheduled annual maintenance shutdown of the MSF service to allow safe working on the masts and antennas will take place from Monday 4th April to Thursday 21st April 2022.

The service will be off-air from:

08:00 to 18:00 BST each day, including weekends

The transmission will be restored overnight whenever possible. If the weather is unsuitable for work to be carried out, then the service will not be turned off.

The signal is occasionally taken off-air to allow maintenance work on the masts and antennas at Anthorn Radio Station to be carried out in safety. A radio-controlled clock will not be able to pick up the MSF signal during these periods, so may drift off from the correct time.

The shutdowns will take place between 10:00 and 14:00 BST in June and September, and between 10:00 and 14:00 UTC in December. The duration of each outage period will be kept to a minimum, and the signal may be back on-air prior to the times given above.

In addition to these dates, the signal is likely to be taken off-air for a two-week period during summer each year, though the transmission will be restored overnight whenever possible. The dates of this longer outage will be announced on this page and by emailed notices to registered users as soon as they are known.

The dates and times of the 2022 maintenance periods are as follows:

10 March 2022 from 10:00 to 14:00 UTC

09 June 2022 from 10:00 to 14:00 BST

08 September 2022 from 10:00 to 14:00 BST

08 December 2022 from 10:00 to 14:00 UTC

Stay informed

Scheduled maintenance notifications
Keep informed about planned outages to the MSF service via an email prior to any scheduled maintenance.
If you wish to be kept informed about planned outages, please complete and submit the form below.>

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