[LEAPSECS] WWVB receivers, legal time, WWV

Gerard Ashton ashtongj at comcast.net
Sun Dec 19 20:03:54 EST 2010

The idea that consumer grade WWVB receivers will become obsolete
supposes that legal time will be a fixed (except for daylight savings
time) offset from UTC, and UTC continues to include leap seconds. If
WWVB were to broadcast the proposed TI instead of UTC, the old receivers
would display TI-based time, which would gradually depart from the legal

The problem with this solution does not lie in the WWVB receivers;
considering the uses to which they are put, they will fail before the
error becomes a problem. The problems are

(1) No system will be able to determine legal time without outside
updates every 6 months or so.

(2) There is no reason to think systems will be revised to carefully
handle events for which the legal time must be determined to subsecond
accuracy in the vicinity of a leap second. Leap seconds will still
happen in legal time and continue to cause many of the problems they do

Also, what about the voice announcements on WWV? Since it gives voice
announcements and also machine readable time, should it broadcast TI or UTC?

Gerry Ashton

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