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December 29, 1999

UK Wants Internet Time Standard

By CBR Staff Writer

Two separate initiatives to make Greenwich Mean Time the touchstone for synchronized internet time came together this week, in an effort to make UK time a standard for e-commerce. Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce on Saturday that he wants to make the nation the center for the internet clock, while the London Internet Exchange has just installed three atomic clocks for the purpose.

The government’s vision is based on the work of the Interactive Media in Retail Group, a consortium of offline retailers with online interests and internet service providers, which has plans to host the clocks that will provide what it calls Greenwich Electronic Time.

But LINX, the London Internet Exchange, this week also said it has just bought three Csium atomic clocks from Datum Corp, which it intends to incorporate into its Docklands exchange facility, directly on the Meridian line. These clocks, sponsored by IP network services provider Enron Communications, a subsidiary of Enron Corp, will go live on January 1 and will be called Greenwich Net Time.

The LINX service will be made available to its 90 or so ISP peering partners via its existing Network Time Protocol infrastructure, while Enron will develop an applet to sit on the web site of any company wishing to display GNT.

Both parties reckon an accurate, synchronized internet time is needed to facilitate time-dependant e-commerce transactions, such as online auctions or real-time share-dealing. The idea is that entities doing business across countries will use GNT/GET as the universal standard, regardless of where they are based. Keith Mitchell, executive chairman of LINX, said: We and IMRG were two projects with the same idea, unaware of each other’s presence. We have now contacted IMRG and are working to bring together GNT and GET.

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