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ULTRA ACCURATE WORLD TIMING SERVICES II

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WORLDTIMING II (ULTRA ACCURATE WORLD TIMING SERVICES II)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2017-08-01 do 2019-01-31

The world today relies on time synchronization at the highest accuracy level since most of the infrastructures classified as critical by governments are time-critical. Precise time is calculated through an operation that involves the atomic clocks synchronization of GNSS while its distribution across the surface segment is typically carried out by NMIs. Since a breakdown or malfunction in these infrastructures could have dramatic effects, it is not surprising the serious concern about their vulnerability. Disruptions can be attributed to both environmental factors and man-made factor. The main objective of WORLDTIMING II is to develop a fully industrial and dependable system for distribution of ultra-accurate and traceable timing through optical fibers composed of two independent solutions. The first one, Linkedclocks is integrated with GNSS systems and is able to protect the GNSS time receivers by creating a resilient network. The second one, FireflyNet, is capable of distributing time using terrestrial networks links over long distances. Both solutions are based on the White Rabbit technology.
Regarding long distance links and the development of the Fireflynet, the analysis of the communication of the equipment with the networks where it is targeted for deployment was carried out. Multiple use cases have been analyzed, instead of a single architecture approach as was initially scheduled. Validation of the selected calibration schemes was carried out at Universidad de Granada, and a thermal analysis for the equipment that can be found in typical networks was thoroughly carried out. For most use cases, synchronization accuracy can be achieved up to a few dozen picoseconds. Several real-case scenarios of different complexity were set up as pilots in collaboration with stakeholders. Interest exceeded expectations for terrestrial time costumers, and thus the number of pilots of long distance links has quadrupled what was initially planned.

With respect to the Linkedclocks development, the requirements that were needed in order to switch between a network of distributed time references were defined and implemented. The interoperability has been addressed with the inclusion of middleware solutions that enable the integration of multiple GNSS sources into a single virtual clock in an automatic and scalable way. Calibration issues were analyzed in collaboration with stakeholders, and the validation of the satellite time transfer solution and its redundancy capabilities have been carried out.

The business development process has grown in importance along with the course of the project. New markets have been identified and penetrated in order to expand business from a niche scientific market towards larger industries such as Finance and Telecommunications. In addition, the tasks in the scope of this project have contributed to a growth of almost 40% for 2018 and a predicted growth of 60% for 2019. IPR strategies have been defined with help of external coach.

International partnerships and collaborations have been established to have a presence in the largest markets in the world (United States, Central Europe, Japan, China). These have enabled Seven Solutions to attend a larger number of key events (conferences, trade fairs, etc) than ever before, increasing visibility and spread of the marketing efforts. Additionally, the network of commercial representatives and distributors have engaged a large number of new customers in key markets such as Finance.

Press releases, presentations in workshops, and other kinds of divulgation materials have been created and disseminated in order to raise concern about the vulnerabilities and risks that the Linkedclocks and Fireflynet solutions address. Online and offline marketing strategy has been improved and online media presence and interactions have been boosted.

In addition, with respect to communication with partners, meetings both face to face and online have become daily routine, and resources and tools are shared with key collaborators to speed up developments via two-party agreements.

All in all, the work and effort carried out by the different departments and the improvements in internal processes between them have been part of the success leading to the predicted increased growth. As an example, the number NDA arrangements with business associates has more than doubled in the second period of the action, exceeding the amount of 70 agreements. In summary, the SME Instrument project has consolidated the business carried out by Seven Solutions, and has generated a substancial incraease in the amount of workers employed by the company, that almost double the initial numbers.
Satellite Time Costumers have a growing concern about the GNSS vulnerabilities. Different solutions have been tested by different companies and research groups having poor scalability and whose effectiveness has been only shown for a reduced number of hours. In addition, today's most popular solutions cannot demonstrate accuracies better than a few tens of ns.

Although the accuracy level required depends on the target operations and spans from some milliseconds, as needed for credit card payment, to sub-nanosecond as used by some scientific laboratories, the accuracy requirements for a large number of infrastructures are increasing , motivated in some cases by new regulations as MiFID II that demand highly accurate time-stamping accuracy. With respect to the existent solutions for long distance transmission, different methods have been proposed as the transmission of accurate time with Two-Way Satellite Time and Frequency Transfer Techniques that provide accuracy results in the range of hundreds of ps to coherent transmission technologies that have improve network capacities by using Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. In most cases the control of the propagation delay represents a challenging issue that is not solved in a general way, but several calibration schemes that provide a solution for most use cases have been developed and validated.

In this sense, FireflyNet represents important improvements thanks to the development of self-continuous calibration processes. The solution is capable of distributing ultra-accurate time using existing telecommunication networks reducing deployment costs. Moreover, regarding the next PTP standard, WR-PTP (PTPv3), these solutions will immediately fit with the forecoming standard as part of the high accuracy profile.

Regarding the equipment industrialization, all the equipment related to FireflyNet and Linkedclocks solutions will have will have different certifications (as CE and FCC labels) for being able to commercialize in different continents.

The second period of the project has consolidated the business of Seven Solutions. In terms of number of alliances (partnerships), Seven Solutions now counts with 2 new distributors, four dozens of new potential clients, more than 30 new clients, more than 50 new contacts and 3 new partners. With respect to the number of pilots, Seven Solutions has performed 9 pilots, and is negotiating 5 pilots. Finally, Seven Solutions has developed a commercialization framework that covers 4 continents and is evaluating opening new international branches. New brancher are already working on USA and Germany.