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Addressing sector needs for an alternative time source

Time is more crucial than ever to industry and society. Uses range from everyday positioning tools such as satnavs, to playing a key role in industries such as transport, agriculture and other aspects of critical national infrastructure. The use of timing signals are also an integral part of new technologies such as 5G, smart cities, drones and CAVs. Currently most timing signals are derived from satellites.​

The 2018 Blackett review highlighted the UK’s dependencies on using satellite-derived timing. Requirements are also becoming more demanding, with some applications requiring uncertainties smaller than 1 microsecond and signals that are continuously available.​

A precise, reliant and reliable timekeeping source, independent of GNSS, is vital to help prevent serious societal and industrial impact in the event of a cyber-attack, jamming or spoofing. NPLTime Access® services offer users a time signal over fibre-optic links that are traceable to UTC(NPL), not dependent on GNSS.​

To find out more get in touch with one of our experts.

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NPLTime Access® supports multiple industry sector requirements


Mobile network operators (MNOs) need time to maintain precise synchronisation of their network. As adoption of 5G technology increases, so does the need for higher synchronisation and resilience


The broadcasting sector needs time to synchronise the two separate feeds that send audio and video feeds to end devices. The broadcast industry has specific standards (SMPTE 2110) for accurate time synchronisation between the audio and video feeds


Banks and high-frequency traders execute orders on stocks and futures exchanges in milliseconds, or thousandths of a second, and therefore need accurate time for audit trail purposes and to comply with regulatory requirements (MIFID II)


Substations are the most important nodes in a smart grid.  They manage the optimal regulation of electrical power in the network, including existing power plants, distributed renewable energy and end consumers. For that to happen successfully, precise time synchronisation plays a critical role

Critical national infrastructure

A rapidly evolving threat landscape that could cause a catastrophic failure to the functioning of the UK’s society and economy, highlights the need to protect and secure critical national infrastructure

NPLTime Access® service overview

NPLTime Access®  provides users and resellers from various sectors with access to UTC(NPL) over fibre optic links from the NPL service nodes.  It provides an alternative time source to GNSS and helps users to implement a resilient timing infrastructure. The pricing for the NPLTime Access® service is comparable to GNSS-based timing services.

Users of the service partner directly with NPL and can use the signal for their own timing needs or to develop assured timing services for their customers. Users of the service are responsible for setting up the link between the Point of Presence (POP) and the NPL service nodes.

Service Functionalities at the NPL service nodes​

  • Traceable with timing granularity of +/- 1 microsecond to UTC( NPL) at the NPL service nodes​​

  • Access to secure and resilient timing signals​​

  • 99.9% uptime​​

  • GNSS independent timing signals​​

  • Continuously monitored by NPL​​

  • Service performance monitoring via a digital portal​

NPLTime Access® Infrastructure Design

NPLTime® Services comparison table

NPLTime Access®

NPLTime Certified®

Delivered at point of use​


Infrastructure/signal monitoring​



Device calibration by NPL​


NPL certification service


Data storage by NPL


Industry sectors



Technical support by NPL

Office hours​

24/7 (via reseller)​

Access to service via


Authorised reseller​

Service reporting via digital portal

Signal performance at the service nodes​

Signal performance at the service nodes and the reseller end points​

Pricing model

License fee based​ (via reseller)

Monthly fee​

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