Weekly Takeaways-June 15, 2023
Updated: Jun 19
Theme of the Week
Time is Money
On August 1611, a clock chimed over the newly opened Amsterdam Stock Exchange. While it wasn't the world's first financial market, it was considered the first modern stock exchange. The key difference?
Time. Prior to this the markets weren’t well regulated so the city dictated a limited trading window, making it “easier for buyers to find sellers and vice versa” which “led to a vast expansion of liquidity in the marketplace.” Clocks weren’t only about marking the opening and closing of the exchange – they also made sure everything is above board. A timestamp is necessary to mark the sequence of a financial transaction and prevent traders from unfairly jumping the queue. But this only works if everyone agrees on the time, which drove the advancement of early clocks and synchronization networks (see below). We have long since moved on from real, physical trading floors where people barter face-to-face. The financial market today is a disperse and complex entity that is regulated by time. This is even more challenging with the emergence of algorithm and high-frequency trading (HFT) that automate transactions at computer speeds.
Some of the toughest regulations "to increase transparency" by demanding verifiable timestamps could be enacted with the European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, also known as MiFID II.
So the drive for accurate and secure time synchronization continues.
Last Week's Theme: The Need for Secure Time
GPS jamming from Russia caused outages and disrupted commercial flights in Estonia and Finland, with some speculation that the jamming was meant to disrupt drone attacks in Moscow.
Meanwhile, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency is warning operators of an increase in jamming or spoofing of GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).
The US General Accountability Office (GAO) released a GPS Modernization report titled “Space Force should Reassess Requirements for Satellites and Handheld Devices” citing delays with delivery of key ground, space, and user equipment, including M-Code.
India is now looking to launch their own GNSS, joining the US (GPS), Russia (GLONASS), Europe (Galileo), China (BeiDou), Japan (QZSS), and UK.
China Telecom announced that it is investing 3 billion yuan ($434M) to create China Telecom Quantum Information Technology Group “for developing quantum technology and promoting quantum throughout the country”.
In the light of Russian hacking of ViaSat and infiltration of satellite networks, the Space Systems Cybersecurity Standard working group met to discuss cybersecurity for space systems as governments “are dedicating more resources to protecting space systems such as GPS, space-based imaging and the satellites that provide internet service around the world over concerns that one successful cyberattack could have catastrophic consequences.”
The US State Department released a Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy to “advance continued U.S. space leadership" and promote "international use of U.S. space capabilities, systems, and services.”
China is looking to put up its own 13,000 satellite ‘Guowang’ mega-constellation as their response to Starlink, Kuiper, E-Space, and other mega-constellations.
What is a quantum network? This article provides an overview of the EPB Quantum Network.
Quantum 2.0 Conference, June 18 - 22, Denver, CO
Q4I, June 27 – 29, Rome, New York
World of Quantum 2023, June 27 - 30, Munich, Germany
Small Satellite, August 5 – 10, Logan, Utah
Euroconsult, September 11 – 15, Paris, France
APSCC, October 10 – 12, KL, Malaysia
ITSF, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Antwerp, Belgium
UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase 2023, Nov 2, London, UK
SLUSH, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Helsinki, Finland
The More You Know...
Advancements in clocks – and their synchronization – have historically been driven by business. Early sundials, water clocks, and pendulum clocks helped organize early shopkeepers and trade. By the 1800s, the opportunity for maritime trade drove the development of the marine chronometer, the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) standard, and synchronization using time balls as a visual cue “to enable tall ships in the Thames to set their marine chronometers.” A few decades later, railroads drove advancements in synchronizing stations to railway time" using telegraph. This led to a GMT synchronization service for stock exchange, banks and businesses “who required standardised time to prove their compliance with licensing laws.”
Today, all modern commerce, financial transactions, and communications get their time from GPS. Which is ironic, because GPS was not developed or maintained for this - it was intended for military use. As such, the needs of the financial markets aren't being met with this service. Strict financial regulations for timing that can be traced to an authenticated source are creating a new market for time synchronization:
In the US, a recent Executive Order directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide a fee-based Time over Fiber service to businesses that want to remove “dependence on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)”.
In Japan, the National Institute of Information and and Communications Technology (NICT) offers time dissemination services over leased line and telephone for businesses.
In the UK, the National Timing Centre (NTC) is starting to offer NPLTime to provide “MiFID II compliant reporting” and “accurate time stamping.”
Commercial options like the Deutsche Börse High Precision Timestamp (HPT) Service are also in development. These systems rely on direct terrestrial lines to the authenticated time source, which is still not completely secure.
What is needed is a global time distribution system that is provably secure.