Today’s rapidly evolving mobile networks and backhaul technologies make cell site synchronization a greater challenge than ever before. 4.5G and 5G applications demand new levels of frequency and phase accuracy.

Outside of telecommunications, timing technologies are now equally important. From data center interconnectivity to vital government defense networks, phenomenally precise synchronization is essential across all industries. Our critical national infrastructures, such as energy and water supplies, healthcare and transportation, depend on precise timing for rapid failure localization and effective operation of distributed control processes. Transactional services in finance rely on trustworthy and precise timestamping. Highly accurate and stable network synchronization is also needed for the metrology that underpins the work of scientists in all fields.

And the challenge isn’t only about delivering greater levels of accuracy. Phenomenal robustness and reliability is now just as essential. With the growing danger of GNSS vulnerabilities, due to deliberate spoofing and jamming attacks or the natural threat of solar flares and space weather events, providing the required levels of availability is a difficult task. Solutions relying on GNSS-based synchronization alone are no longer sufficient for the needs of mission-critical infrastructure. Ensuring backup is now a mandatory step towards secure synchronization.

Enhanced timing

Defined by the ITU-T G8272.1 recommendation, enhanced primary reference time clock (ePRTC) systems take reliability and accuracy to the next level. An ePRTC synchronization source can meet the requirements of next-generation mobile networks, offering the precise synchronization needed by today’s industries and removing vulnerability to GNSS outages. With an ePRTC, accurate timing is maintained for at least 14 days. It also produces much higher levels of precision than standard PRTCs. While the time output of PRTCs should be accurate to within 100ns of UTC, this new generation of timing source delivers time to within just 30ns. ePRTC specifications provide a new level of stability, accuracy and reliability.

The key to ePRTC systems is that they construct their own time with a high-performance cesium clock combined with UTC traceable reference such as a GNSS receiver. This helps filter out fluctuations caused by the impact of atmospheric interference, solar storms or ionospheric variation on timing recovered from GNSS. This innovative combination a GNSS-based system with a cesium frequency standard leverages the advantages of both timing methods and hugely improves the accuracy of frequency, phase and time synchronization.

A quantum leap in holdover capabilities

That’s why we’ve created our OSA ePRTC systems – highly precise and autonomous timing solutions that enable operators to bring long-term precision to their existing infrastructure. Upgrading your system with our ePRTC significantly improves accuracy and holdover performance without adding lots of cost and complexity.

An additional challenge is to deliver the ePRTC signal into the network; each network element between the ePRTC and the end application can add time error and will degrade the overall time provided. It’s therefore important to combine the ePRTC with time and frequency distribution interfaces such as PTP, NTP and Sync-E.

Our compact solutions comprise just two Oscilloquartz devices: an OSA 3230B ePRC cesium clock compliant to G.811.1 ePRC, which is connected to either an OSA 5421 or OSA 5430 clock combiner and grandmaster clock compliant to G.8272.1 ePRTC.

For unbeatable space-efficiency, our OSA 5421 creates a compact ePRTC system that provides multiple fan-out signals in different formats including PTP, NTP, SyncE and BITS. This eliminates the need for an additional output signal distribution device.

And, for unique flexibility and redundancy, our OSA 5430 creates our fully protected ePRTC solution with redundant hardware, including GNSS receivers and clock combiners. It has a modular and scalable design and supports PTP, NTP and SyncE over multiple 10Gbit/s and 1Gbit/s interfaces with hardware timestamping.

What more, the Syncjack™ sync probing and assurance technology embedded in all of our ePRTCs enables detection and reporting of inconsistencies between the different references provided to the ePRTC as well as detection of the GNSS spoofing.

With these ePRTC solutions, we’re providing vital accuracy and protection, helping operators escape their GNSS dependency so that the era of 5G can truly begin.