Image: China National Timing Service Center

What’s New: Recent announcements of China establishing two new terrestrial timing centers as part of its national network.

Why It’s Important: China is increasing its tech lead over the U.S. and the rest of the world by establishing this fundamental infrastructure.

  • Virtually all tech systems and applications use precise time to synchronize operations, sequence events, maintain records, etc.
  • The more reliable and precise timing, the more applications and productivity.
    • Example: Precise timing is used to enable multiple message streams on the same frequency. The more robust and precise the timing, the more through put. Instead of needing more frequencies, users can better use the frequency bands they have. It’s like found money!
  • This timing network could also interface with 5G telecoms to provide ultra high accuracy positioning to support autonomy corridors.
  • This terrestrial timing network is part of China’s overall “Comprehensive PNT” plan we first reported in 2019. China is not only leading in timing, they are leading in overall PNT excellence and resilience.

What Else to Know:

  • U.S. DoD has had a “regional clock” program underway for several years to serve military requirements. We have not heard about it being operationalized or any other status.
  • The National Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2018 called for a national terrestrial timing capability, but has never been acted upon.
  • Numerous expert groups have called for a national timing architecture/capability, including the:
    • President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Board
    • President’s National Space-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board
    • Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions
    • Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation
    • Governors’ Homeland Security Advisors Council (National Governors’ Association)
  • The National Guard has begun development of a national timing architecture and network, called NITRO, to support its own requirements and those of state first responders. It is already in use by 7 states. Unfortunately the project is still looking for funding to continue past October of this year. The problem is that it is stuck in a bureaucratic and budgetary no-man’s land.

Thanks to alert member Dr. Pat Diamond, Dave Mitlyng and his Xairos Newsletter for bringing these announcements to our attention!


National Timing Services Center

“High Precision Ground-Based Timing System” Nagqu Timing Station Officially Started

  On June 6 , the Nagqu Time Service Station Project of the National Major Science and Technology Infrastructure “High-precision Ground-Based Time Service System” undertaken by the National Time Service Center held a groundbreaking ceremony and officially started construction. The project construction unit China Railway First Bureau Group Construction and Installation Engineering Co., Ltd., the supervision unit Beijing Jianfu Engineering Construction Supervision Co., Ltd., and the project management personnel of the National Time Service Center attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Xu Rui, deputy director of the Conditions Construction Department, delivered a speech at the start of the project, expressing his heartfelt thanks to the participating units of the project on behalf of the National Time Service Center, and introducing the background and significance of the project. At the same time, it is hoped that all participating units can go all out to promote the project construction, and complete the project construction with high standards and high efficiency under the premise of ensuring safety and quality. Li Baoqiang, the project technical director of the construction unit, said that in the later stage of construction, the concept of ” respecting the owner, obeying the supervision, and caring for the employees ” was adhered to, careful organization, scientific construction, reasonable arrangement, and detailed progress goals to ensure that the project was completed on schedule.

At the site of the construction activity, the construction unit took the opportunity of the “Safety Production Month” activity to organize the construction personnel to take the safety production oath, and all the construction personnel signed the safety commitment on the spot.

The Naqu timing station of the high-precision ground-based timing system is located in Naqu City at an altitude of 4,600 meters on the snowy plateau. After the completion of the timing station, it will provide high-precision timing signals for the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the western regions of China, realize the national soil coverage of long-wave timing signals, and contribute to the national economy . Provide high-precision timing services for construction and national security.

Groundbreaking ceremony

On-site safety production commitment signature

Accelerate construction! High-precision ground-based timing system (Xi’an)

Race against time and construction is busy.

Xi’an will build a high-precision ground-based timing system

Years old and cloudy, one yuan starts again, and the stars and frost fly by, and they live in endlessly. Throughout the ages, there have been countless descriptions about “time”. Only with “time” can we draw the trajectory of life evolution, write down the cycle of four seasons, and record our year-by-year expectations. Recently, in the Silk Road Science City of Xi’an High-tech Zone, the high-precision ground-based timing system project is racing against time to keep the schedule and make every effort to complete the project as soon as possible.

In the satellite navigation system, a time measurement error of one millionth of a second will result in a ranging deviation of 300 meters. Major research in multiple disciplines such as quantum information, earth science, radio astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, and space weather all require the support of high-precision time-frequency signals.