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Time and Frequency Standards Services

Standards of time and frequency are disseminated to New Zealand users by various means including time pips broadcast on Radio New Zealand National, a talking clock service, monitoring GPS signals and providing a Network Time Protocol (NTP) service.

  • Time "Pips"
  • Talking Clock
  • NTP Server

Time "PIPS"

The most well-known time signals are those broadcast every hour by Radio New Zealand on the National radio station. The so-called “time pips” consist of six bursts of a 1000 Hz tone, at one second intervals that commence 5 seconds before the hour. The beginning of each pip marks a second and the pip that marks the hour is twice as long as the others. When a leap second is inserted seven pips are broadcast. The time-pip signal is synchronised with the New Zealand time standard, UTC(MSL).

Talking Clock

MSL operates a talking clock that is available to the New Zealand public via the Spark 0900 service. On dialling 0900 45 678, the user will hear a time announcement followed by three “pips” of a 1000 Hz tone. The start of the third pip marks the time announced. The announcement and the pips are repeated at 10 second intervals to give six time announcements in all, ensuring that a full minute is always included.

One of the aims of this service is to disseminate the New Zealand time standard to enable traceable calibration of stopwatches and other clocks. To perform such a calibration, it is necessary to document at least two calls to the talking clock. With a modern crystal-controlled timepiece, there should not be any difference between the time interval indicated by the talking clock and the interval indicated by the timepiece, unless the time interval between the calls is several days. A technical guide is available with more details about the calibration procedure here.

NTP Server

A Network Time Protocol (NTP) stratum 1 server is available for connections within New Zealand. NTP is a standard internet protocol for the synchronisation of computer time. A simpler version (called Simple Network Time Protocol or SNTP), which is a subset of NTP, is supported by the MSL server and can be used to set the time on any computer. The server is referenced to the New Zealand time standard, UTC(MSL), by direct connection of a pulse per second signal. Further details about using the server can be found here.

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