WWV and WWVH are on a list of proposed cuts in the White House's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST https://www.nist.gov/) Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. The proposed cuts, which only recently came to light, would also include the Atomic Clock signal from WWVB.
"It is important to note that no changes to NIST services have occurred, and if the proposal were to be implemented, public notice would be provided," NIST said this week.
According to the NIST Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request the specific cut would come from the NIST Fundamental Measurement, Quantum Science, and Measurement Dissemination budget and would amount to $6.3 million.
"NIST has a long-standing history of providing time and frequency services through our radio stations and we appreciate that many people use these services," NIST said in a statement. "WWV is the longest continuously operating radio service in the US. At the same time, the proposed NIST budget for FY 2019 required difficult choices about budget priorities."
NIST said that it plans to eliminate "efforts that have been replaced by newer technologies, measurement science research that lies outside NIST's core mission space, and programs that can no longer be supported due to facility deterioration."
WWV and WWVH broadcast 24/7. Announcements include time announcements, standard time intervals, standard frequencies, UT1 time corrections, a BCD time code, geophysical alerts, and marine storm warnings. Transmissions are broadcast from separate transmitters on 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz. An experimental 25 MHz signal is also currently on the air. WWVB transmits standard Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) signals on 60 kHz to appropriately equipped devices
(from the ARRL Letter 8/23/18)
Two petitions have been started on the White House's "We the People" petition site calling for restoration of funding for these two essential radio stations. Each needs at least 100,000 electronic signatures by mid-September to generate a response from the White House. The petitions can be found at:
Sign both of the petitions here:
Very good articles from CQ News Room and others:
...more from CQ magazine:
Analysis and Commentary on Issues
Affecting Amateur Radio
"Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?"
Moseson, W2VU, Editor
"Does anybody really know what time it is?" the
rock group Chicago famously asked back in the '70s, adding, "Does
anybody really care … about time?" The answer to both questions is
yes, especially today, when so much of what we do, where we go and how we
get there are dependent on (our devices, at least) knowing the accurate
time. It is perhaps appropriate that I'm writing this while on a (delayed)
train, since it was the rise of rail travel that was responsible for
standard time zones and the need for accurate timekeeping.
The question arises because the nation's timekeeper, the
National Institute of Standards and Technology, has proposed eliminating
its time and frequency standard radio stations, WWV, WWVB and WWVH, in an
effort to reduce its budget for the 2019 federal fiscal year. Obviously,
this would have significant impact on us hams, but we would be only a
fraction of those affected, unless the funding is restored by Congress.
And it looks to us like that is exactly what the folks at NIST are hoping
The NIST budget
request document1 is
confusing and self-contradictory, at one point saying the services it
provides are unique and then saying some are duplicated by others. And the
services it is proposing to cut go beyond WWV and its sisters to include
technology for safety of first responders, protocols for the electric grid
Here's the illogical logic of the proposal
as it relates to WWV and related services, quoted directly from the NIST
A clear example of the fundamental and infrastructural
nature of NIST's mission work is NIST's work in the dissemination of the
time and frequency standards. The dissemination of the time standard,
traceable to NIST's atomic clock in Boulder, CO, underpins a tremendous
amount of activity in our modern commercial system. For example, NIST
official time is used to time-stamp hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S.
financial transactions each working day. NIST time is also disseminated to
industry and the public through the Internet Time Service which receives
about 40 billion automated requests per day to synchronize clocks in
computers and network devices. Additionally, other technological
breakthroughs that we now take for granted are dependent upon the accuracy
and precision of NIST's atomic clocks. This includes cellular telephones,
Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite receivers, and the electric power
Furthermore … for every tax dollar invested
in NIST, almost $50 of value is created in the economy year over year.
There is no other private sector, or
government entity having the capability, capacity of mission to provide the
types of services as those provided by NIST.
There you have it … NIST's time and frequency standards and
their dissemination are essential to the efficient functioning of our
financial system, computer networks, cellphones, GPS location devices and
the electric power grid. There is no other private or private or governmental
entity that can provide similar services, and every tax dollar invested in
NIST pays a 50-fold return to the economy.
So … let's cut the budget for all of these essential and
non-duplicatable services by one fifth. That's exactly what NIST proposes
just ten pages later in the same document:
The FY 2019 request will reduce NIST's
spending in areas of core metrology and measurement dissemination (by) 20.5
Specifically … NIST will discontinue the
dissemination of U.S. time and frequency via the NIST radio stations in
Hawaii and Ft. Collins, CO. These radio stations transmit signals that are
used to synchronize consumer electronic products like wall clocks, clock
radios and wristwatches, and may be used in other applications like
appliances, cameras and irrigation controllers.
Oh, and in case eliminating time synchronization for
consumer electronics, appliances and irrigation controllers isn't enough…
NIST will (also) reduce funding focusing
on assessment of technologies for indoor location tracking of first
responders, support for smart grid communications protocols, as well as the
development of standards for the smart grid and other cyber physical systems,
including the elimination of work on the development of standards and
guidelines for wireless communications and process control for the
Eliminating these services, says the NIST budget request,
will permit it to "consolidate and focus work on NIST efforts in
quantum science," which is certainly important. On the other hand, the
budget also calls for a reduction of $4.1 million "in R&D
targeting application of NIST quantum breakthroughs to applied measurement
needs, including temperature and atmospheric gas metrology."
The proposed budget also calls for reducing or eliminating
funding for a program to accelerate technology transfer from federal
laboratories to industry, and for several environmental research programs.
Impact on Ham Radio and Beyond
The loss of time signals from WWV would affect hams and
other HF spectrum users in many ways, well beyond setting our station
clocks. Several newer digital modes, including FT8 and other "JT"
modes, are highly dependent on the computer clocks at each end of a contact
being accurate and in sync. The accuracy of internet time is dependent on
the speed of your internet connection, which is subject to change, and
which assumes that you have an internet connection.
In addition, frequency calibration of receivers and
transmitters is dependent on a known accurate signal source on a known
frequency. You can't calibrate your receiver to 10 MHz over the internet.
Plus, WWV's propagation data is very important to atmospheric and space scientists
in addition to hams looking for DX.
Tom Loughney, AJ4XM, adds another dimension to the impact of
a possible loss of WWV signals, that on the visually-impaired community.
(Tom's note was written before it became clear that NIST planned to shut
down WWVB as well as WWV and WWVH.)
While most of the "atomic
clocks" use WWVB, there are a lot of blind and low vision people in
the US (millions) who use "talking watches" to tell them the
time. I fix many of these watches when they fail. They are cheap, less than
$75, so this is just a free public service for those on very limited
incomes. I do not charge for my assistance. About 2/3 can be repaired
and 1/3 are not fixable due to lack of parts and info. Most use WWVB but a
lot use WWV and WWVH. Circuit components are pennies less for those. All
come from China or Asia. Getting rid of the 2 big stations will have a
significant impact on the blind community.
Clearly, the impact of the NIST's proposed changes is broad
and wide-ranging, from self-setting clocks and watches to tracking systems
for first responders inside hazardous structures, and of course, the on-air
time and frequency services provided by WWV and WWVH. Overall, the proposal
calls for a nearly 28% cut in NIST's "Fundamental Measurement, Quantum
Science and Measurement Dissemination" activities, which are its core
The logic behind the proposed cuts is mystifying, as is the
structure of the report, which on one hand explains how these services are
essential to the country and cannot be duplicated by anyone else, and on
the other hand proposes significant cuts to these very programs.
All we can speculate by reading these tea leaves is that the
Commerce Department – NIST's parent agency – demanded across-the-board
budget cuts for the coming fiscal year. Management responded by proposing
draconian cuts to its primary missions in the hopes that public outrage
would prompt Congress to restore the cuts in the final federal budget. It
is the only possibility that makes any sense.
Members of Congress – and particularly of those committees
responsible for NIST's budget – need to know how their constituents and the
nation at large would be affected by these proposals and need to be urged
to restore funding for these essential programs. According to the amateur
radio club at Case Western Reserve University, these committees are the
Committee on Science, Space and Technology in the House; and the Senate's
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. The Case
ARC lists the members of each of these committees, along with their office
phone numbers, on its website at <https://w8edu.wordpress.com/save-wwv/>, which also includes a sample script to read when
calling to register your views. You should customize it to your personal
uses, and be prepared to answer questions from Congressional staff members
about how you use these services and how you would be impacted by their elimination. We
urge you to contact your Congressional representatives whether or not they
sit on the above committees.
Two petitions have been started on the White
House's "We the People" petition site calling for restoration of
funding for these two essential radio stations. Each needs
at least 100,000 electronic signatures by mid-September to generate a
response from the White House.
The petitions can be found at:
2018 CQ Communications, Inc.
is granted to reprint this white paper in full with appropriate credit or
to link to it on the CQ
website and/or the CQ
The proposal to reduce or eliminate funding for radio stations WWV, WWVH, is so unconsciable that any ordinary person would wonder why such an idea was thought up. Just to "save" a few TAX dollars, many scientific and commercial areas would be drastically affected.ReplyDelete