The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National
Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) and the Department
of Telecommunications (DoT) under the
Ministry of Communications in India have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for establishing a nationwide Time Stamping
& Time Synchronisation network and traceability of Time signal to UTC (Coordinated
Universal Time) NPL Time.
CSIR-NPL is the agency responsible for highest level of time
and frequency measurements in India at par with the international standards.
The timescale is maintained with the help of a five Cesium (Cs) atomic clocks
and a Hydrogen Maser (H-Maser; uses intrinsic properties of the hydrogen atom
to serve as a precision frequency reference). All 5 Cs clocks and the H-Maser
are contributing to International Atomic Time (TAI) through precise, regulated,
automated inter comparison of clocks, precise satellite links and automated
daily upload of data to BIPM (Bureau international des poids et mesures or The International
Bureau of Weights and Measures ).
Every digital event, such as a file saved or an e-mail sent
is time-stamped by a computer, using its internal clock that can drift by
several seconds over a day and gradually build up an error of many minutes. For
the computer to tell the time accurately, it must synchronise its internal
clock regularly against a trusted external source of time, which must be both
accurate and reliable.
The time set on Indian telecom networks should be
in sync with the Indian Standard Time (IST) zone to enable unique identification
of the user (subscriber) of network on tracing of the IP address and other
parameters. At the moment, Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) / Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) are taking reference time from different sources such
as GPS (Global Positioning System) from GNSS (global navigation satellite
system ). These sources do not have traceability with IST.
The press release explains that the primary purpose of
synchronising the telecom networks with the IST time stamp is to help security
agencies to overcome the difficulty in analysing and correlating the cyber
events in this era of greatly increasing network speed with advancement of
telecom technology from 2G to 3G to 4G to 5G. This is expected to help curb cybercrimes.
The implementation of the project will also improve the
telecom network efficiency by reducing packet loss due to reduced slips in a better
synchronised digital network. This will reduce the Voice Over Internet Protocol
(VOIP) call drop and improve the quality of service of the network.
Accuracy of the time depends upon the distance between the
Time Synchronisation Centre (reference source) and the location of the TSP/ISP
Centres. The Nationwide, Time Stamping & Time Synchronisation network
consisting of 22 Time Synchronisation Centers (TSCs) will be set up by DoT with
technical assistance from CSIR-NPL.
This network will provide synchronising pulse in Indian
Standard Time(IST) to all Telecom & Internet Service providers in all the
22 LSA (Licensed Service Areas) in the country.
The project will be implemented in two phases. In the
first phase TSCs will be set up in four metro LSAs and in the second phase
remaining of the 22 Licensed Service Areas will be covered.
The MoU was signed by Dr D.K. Aswal, Director, CSIR-NPL and
by Mr Amit Mishra, DDG, Department of Telecommunications in the presence of Dr Girish
Sahni, Director General, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR and Mr Prabhash Singh, Member
(Technology), Department of Telecommunications, senior officials from DoT, CSIR
 GNSS is a general term describing any satellite constellation that provides positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services on a global or regional basis. GPS is a U.S.-owned utility that provides users with positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services.