This project will develop the metrological capacities required to accelerate the industrial adoption of PTP-WR, through improved hardware and calibration techniques, implemented in industrial environments.

WRITE has presented its activities and early results through 7 contributions at international conferences. The results presented at the 2018 IEEE International Symposium on Precision Clock Synchronization for Measurement, Control, and Communication (ISPCS 2018) received the ‘Best Paper’ award, and the proceeding has been published. The consortium organised a “Calibration bootcamp” in November 2018, with about 10 attendees, devoted to train on the state-of-art calibration techniques in White Rabbit PTP time dissemination. VTT (consortium partner) organised a training period at PTB (non-member), carried out in Germany. Up to now, 14 institutions have been recognised as stakeholders and collaborators (already formally recognised, or to be formalised). The project has been presented at the EURAMET Technical Committee for Time and Frequency taking place in UK in March 2019. This committee is composed of the representatives of the Time and Frequency laboratories of the European National Metrological Institutes.

Impact on industrial and other user communities

This project will offer new complete PTP-WR solutions (improved devices and performance, commercial network architecture compatibility, calibration procedures), addressing the needs of industrial manufacturers, service providers and end users (such as navigation, Internet, electronic financial transactions, and mobile telecommunication network synchronisation) and suitable for immediate implementation. Improved reliability of secure time dissemination services will be enabled as developments in the project will tackle the distortion of GPS signals due to electromagnetic interference, and the vulnerability to spoofing or space weather, thus reducing synchronisation failures.

The project’s devices and methods will offer reliable and high performing time transfer to users with performance and traceability beyond the current state-of the-art for stability and accuracy, but with the unique feature of being resilient and continuously calibrated with traceability to UTC.

The project’s new calibration techniques and new hardware will be tested in two industrial environments, thus ensuring that the project’s solutions will be designed and evaluated, ready for the adoption in the industrial communities. In addition, a PTP-WR-based solution for reliable time dissemination to industries will generate new business, related to the dissemination service itself.

Impact on the metrology and scientific communities

The project’s outputs will facilitate the more accurate and efficient dissemination of the SI second, by enabling a traceable signal to be brought to the time and frequency users with unprecedented accuracy through the optical fibre network. If fibre based PTP-WR time transfer to industries can be successfully demonstrated, complementary time links can be implemented enabling uninterrupted time transfer from all participating laboratories, even in cases when satellite signals are disturbed. In the long run, countries that do not possess primary frequency standards (optical or microwave) will be able to obtain easy access to accurate time and frequency signals available from the best clocks in Europe via the optical fibre networks.

The collection of data for the realisation of International Atomic Time and the international reference timescale Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) would also benefit and indeed, PTP-WR will offer an outstanding method for clock comparisons, at least matching the performance of caesium clocks, as it outperforms satellites techniques and relies on common traffic infrastructures. Many scientific users, for example atomic and molecular spectroscopy, very long baseline radio astronomy (VLBI), and the realisation of all other SI units, have more stringent requirements on timing stability and accuracy than most industrial users, and even scientific laboratories and academia that do not require the best-performing T/F solutions, would nonetheless benefit from improved solutions offered at a reasonable cost.

This project will provide all users with improved devices and techniques, highly reliable solutions and lower calibration uncertainties.

Impact on relevant standards

The project’s outputs will be relevant to the development of the IEEE1588 standard that defines PTP, the standards related to Recommendation ITU-T G.8271/Y.1366 and the IEEE Std C37.242-2013. The consortium will also develop closer relationships with ISO. The new high-performance time transfer technique developed by the project will benefit the activities of the BIPM, in particular the Working Group on Coordination of the Development of Advanced Time and Frequency Transfer Techniques (WG-ATFT). The EURAMET Technical Committee for Time and Frequency (TC-TF) will be regularly updated with reports on the project activities. The radio astronomical community maintains its own technical standards concerning time transfer issues, and will also benefit from the project.

Longer-term economic, social and environmental impacts

The project targets will enable the metrological adoption of PTP-WR by a range of industries. The long-term effects on the economic side will include the possibility of offering new services based on time distribution, and hence a demand for specialised technicians capable of managing PTP-WR networks.

From both the economic and the social point of view, a high-performance, scalable, cost-effective PTP-WR technique will greatly benefit the implementation of smart grids, and a broad range of applications described collectively as the internet of Things. Even, time dissemination through fibres laid along highways will allow robust, resilient and accurate navigation of autonomously driven cars. The opportunity for  synchronisation at the 10−16 level at two distant stations, such as the PTF (Precise Timing Facilities) of the GALILEO ground segment, will enable a test of the accuracy and stability of the GPS or GALILEO systems to be performed with significantly higher precision than with previously available techniques.

There will also be a wider impact on the telecommunications industry, in particular wireless 5G telecommunications will offer new services, such as mobile remote medicine and diagnostics, geodynamical services and mobile advanced e-commerce. All of these services will have a significant social impact, allowing new types of access to medical aid, information management and economic transactions. The opportunity for tight synchronisation of sensors will in turn generate a precise and distributed knowledge of control parameters on a variety of socially relevant infrastructures, such as car traffic in large urban areas, power distribution, geological and seismic surveys, and water distribution.

The wide adoption of PTP-WR on existing fibre networks will be beneficial to the environment for a number of reasons. Firstly smart power grids will benefit from better timing of power distribution devices and their synchronisation will make power distribution more efficient, with a relevant impact on environment. Secondly, sensing for air pollution needs synchronisation and precise timing to reconstruct airflow modelling, hence PTP-WR solutions developed in the project will help to generate an improved understanding of the environment, and to identify and act on pollution sources. Thirdly, a more long-term impact relates to water distribution, where new technologies, such as the smart water meters, Internet-of-Things devices and various sensors measuring hydraulic and quality parameters, will help monitoring and control in water distribution networks, including identification of leaks.

Potential future outcomes of the project, after initial implementation

According to the plans and to the first implementations, the project WRITE will give a full demonstration of the capabilities in time and frequency transfer of the WR technology in industrial environment. Together with the improvement in the performances with respect to accuracy and stability of the hardware and the calibration techniques, the project will enable a wide deployment of the infrastructures demonstrated in the following years.