The Future of Time and Frequency Dissemination

Judah Levine

Abstract: I will try to extrapolate the changes in the dissemination of time and frequency information that have taken place during the last 25 years to predict the future developments both in the methods of disseminating time and frequency and in the kinds of customers we will be asked to serve. Two important developments are likely to play pivotal roles in driving the evolution of dissemination. The first is the commercial availability of very high quality clocks - devices whose performance may eventually rival that of the current generation of primary frequency standards. The widespread use of these devices may blur the traditional distinction between client and server, and may replace it with a more symmetrical interchange of data among peers. The second is the increasing demand for digital time and frequency information driven by the increasing sophistication of everything from traffic tights to electric power meters. The needs of these individual users may not tax the state of the art of primary frequency standards in principle, but their large numbers and wide geographical distribution present a technological challenge that is difficult to meet at a reasonable price using existing methods. Some of these problems may be solved (or at least addressed) using developments in communications and consumer electronics such as the increasing use of fiber-optic telephone circuits and the increasing bandwidth and sophistication of the cable network used to transmit television pictures. To be useful, these advances in hardware must stimulate parallel advances in software algorithms and methods. These advances are more difficult to predict with great confidence, but the developments of the last few years will be examined to provide some indications of the future.
Published in: Proceedings of the 25th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
November 29 - 2, 1993
Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Marina Del Rey, California
Pages: 573 - 580
Cite this article: Levine, Judah, "The Future of Time and Frequency Dissemination," Proceedings of the 25th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Marina Del Rey, California, November 1993, pp. 573-580.
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