Michael Sokolov msokolov at ivan.Harhan.ORG
Tue Jan 17 13:29:46 EST 2012

Warner Losh <imp at bsdimp.com> wrote:

> The ITU standard is the standard for radio broadcast time. That's why

> everybody broadcasts UTC (+/- some fixed offset) today. To conform with

> international standards, they would broadcast the new timescale.

But how are you going to enforce it? Suppose "rogue" country X decides
to operate, say, a 1 MW (megawatt) transmitter broadcasting a time code
that deliberately disobeys the ITU-R recommendation. Furthermore,
suppose that transmitter operates on a "squatted" frequency without
asking anyone else for permission. The transmitter is physically
located on the sovereign territory of country X, but its emissions can
be easily heard well outside of that country.

Are you (USA or whoever) saying you are going to drop atomic bombs on
country X for doing this?

> So the more pertinent question will be 'what are the labs going to do?'

> since that's what everybody, or nearly everybody, will blindly follow.

But not every country has its own time lab: some poorer countries
(including most micronations) can't afford one. A country that can't
afford its own time lab has to rely on the time broadcasts from other
countries. However, such a country could choose to apply an offset to
those foreign transmissions to get its legal time.

Suppose that the time code transmitted by WWVx in USA, whatever its
name, gets 1.5 s ahead of UT1. Let's say a hypothetical micronation
located 14 nautical miles off the coast of USA chooses UT1 as the
basis of its legal time, but can't afford its own time lab, so it has
to rely on WWVx transmissions instead. The nation in question (micro
or otherwise) could easily make a law that requires every user of WWVx
transmissions to subtract 1.5 s from the time received from WWVx
before using it in any legal context.

Furthermore, if country X can afford its own time code transmitter but
not its own time lab, it could set up equipment that receives foreign
time codes, automatically applies an offset that is locally controlled
to bring the time back into alignment with some form of MST, and
retransmits it back out (maybe even at a megawatt or more on a squatted
frequency) as "rubber time" that is directly usable as a realization
of MST without the user having to apply any offsets. Or if a megawatt
transmitter on a squatted frequency isn't an option, substitute a
publicly reachable Internet server instead.

> They are the domain experts, they deliver time to me, why would I

> use anything else[*]?

Religious/philosophical reasons.

> Who wants to be the first lab that's the "odd man" out? The time community

> is very tight knit and my sense is that peer pressure will keep everybody

> doing the same thing.

It is indeed rather unlikely that any of the already existing time
labs would have the courage to act on a leap second notice sent from
Daniel Gambis' personal Gmail account instead of the IERS servers,
unfortunately. However, if some highly ideologically-driven nation
that does not currently own a time lab ponies up the cash to set a new
one up, it could very well be set up to deliver an atomic clock-based
timescale that is steered into alignment with MST.


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