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National Timing Centre programme

Providing the basis for resilient time distribution across the country

The UK’s first nationally distributed time infrastructure

Led by NPL, the National Timing Centre (NTC) programme will pave the way for trusted and assured time and frequency distribution across the UK.

The NTC programme is funded by the UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund and will develop a secure infrastructure at locations across the country. It will help to improve security and resilience in national time and frequency distribution, whilst supporting UK innovation and skills.

The programme has three objectives:

Objective 1  Deliver a resilient UK national time infrastructure through the building and linking of a new atomic clock network distributed geographically in secure locations.

Objective 2  Provide innovation opportunities for UK companies through funding projects in partnership with Innovate UK based on a successful NPL and Innovate UK partnership model.

Objective 3  Respond to the specialist skills shortage in time and synchronisation solutions through specialist, apprentice and post graduate training opportunities.

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In the news

Our Strategy Director, Robin Hart, talks to the BBC’s Evan Davis on Radio 4 about accurate timekeeping, why the UK needs resilient time and frequency, and the National Timing Centre programme.

PM is Radio 4’s afternoon news and current affairs programme, reporting on breaking stories and summing up the day's headlines.

Listen to the full episode

 

Read the full announcement from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy:

UK world-leading in time dissemination

 

Delivering impact for the UK

The NTC programme will provide the resilience needed to protect critical national infrastructure, keep essential services running and ensure trust in new technologies. It will enable the UK to move away from reliance on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), like GPS, and leverage a range of time and frequency distribution technologies including fibre, communication satellites, and terrestrial broadcasts, as well as GNSS.

Improved resilience will help to strengthen our society through faster, more secure internet, robust energy supplies and reliable health and emergency services. The NTC programme will be key to the country’s critical infrastructure, bring structure to our data frameworks and support all sectors of industry. It will enable technological growth and innovation by enabling acceleration of new technologies such as smart grids, 5G, factories of the future, smart cities and connected autonomous vehicles. In conjunction with Innovate UK, the NTC programme will support UK companies to develop new products and services to meet these needs.

At NPL we are proud to be leading the way in providing trusted and assured time and frequency. The work undertaken by the team has ensured that the National Timing Centre programme will provide huge benefits to society, whilst underpinning secure applications in the future

Dr Pete Thompson FREng, CEO - NPL

NPL is the home of UK time

As the birthplace of atomic timekeeping and custodians of the UK’s national timescale, UTC(NPL), we are perfectly placed to lead the NTC programme. Our scientists are at the forefront of Time & Frequency research in the UK and provide timing and synchronisation products and services. We are trusted providers of a time-over-fibre service for the financial sector, NPLTime®.

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Our Time and Frequency research

We provide customers and partners with access to trusted and reliable time, and push the boundaries of timing technologies

Research

Our Time and Frequency services

A reliable source of timing and synchronisation standards and services

Services

The UK will play a leading role in developing resilient infrastructures for time, protecting and enhancing our critical national infrastructure. For the UK to maintain leadership in this field however, we need to ensure we foster the skills to continue to drive innovation.

Dr Leon Lobo, Head of the National Timing Centre programme - NPL