[LEAPSECS] Meeting of ITU/R Special Rapporteur Group

From: <matsakis.demetrios_at_USNO.NAVY.MIL>
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 15:01:01 -0500

The ITU/R Special Rapporteur Group met last week in Paris. This is the
group whose charter is to advise the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU) on whether UTC should be redefined. Their charter is to complete
their report by this October, but the date may slip a bit (see below). I
will forward any formal announcement by the group when I receive it, but the
following are the main conclusions, more or less:

1. The group voted to exclude from consideration all redefinition options
except freezing the number of leap seconds at some so-far unspecified date.
This means they won't try to change the definition of the second from
9,192,631,700 periods of a certain hyperfine transition of the undisturbed
cesium atom, replace leap seconds by leap hours, etc.

2. The group is planning to hold a conference to discuss the ramifications
of freezing UTC, in conjunction with the November meeting of the Royal
Institute of Navigation. I believe that will be in London. At this meeting
they hope to bring in experts on the commercial, financial, legal,
navigational, telecom, network, and satellite aspects of the proposal. They
will also commission another survey in conjunction with the meeting, in
which they plan to include very specific questions such as, perhaps, "how
much overtime did it take to adjust to a leap second the last time one

At this meeting I also became aware of two other surveys, which I will
describe below:

1. A very brief one by the (U.S.) National Institute of Standards (NIST),
showed that 10% of the responders favored NIST broadcasting information to
create TAI (i.e. leap second information). See

2. A very preliminary summary of a survey by the Communications Research
Laboratory (CRL, in Japan) is given in the attachment.

Finally, as Chair of the URSI Commission J working group on this matter, I
previously submitted the attached resolution for consideration by the full
URSI (International Union of Radio Scientists) at their next General
Assembly, which will be this August. Of course, this resolution has not yet
passed, and it may be substantially revised as events play out.

Received on Fri Apr 05 2002 - 10:40:18 PST

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