U.K. Clocks in with Greenwich Electronic Time

LONDON (01/26/2000) - It's about time. In an effort to draw attention to e-commerce in the U.K., the government's new "e-Envoy," Alex Allan, joined U.K. business representatives to officially launch the Greenwich Electronic Time (GeT) today.

"A time standard is much needed as e-commerce expands globally. GeT puts the U.K. in the forefront of this expansion," Allan said at a press conference. As the U.K.'s first e-Envoy, appointed earlier this month, Allan is the government's point person to promote e-commerce in the U.K.

GeT, based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), is meant to be a time standard for e-commerce. For example, computers around the world could time stamp all online transactions with the U.K.-based GeT. GeT is the same hour of the day as GMT, but like UTC, is set to atomic clocks.

The project, a joint effort between industry and government, is being completely funded by commercial sponsors including DHL International Ltd., Timex Corp. and British Telecommunications PLC, Allan said.

Though much of the project is still in the specifications stage, the GeT clock and Web site were launched by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 1, in an effort to draw attention to GeT and convince the rest of the world, in particular the U.S., to adopt the standardized time keeper.

Today's official launch was a chance to tout the virtues of GeT and the free tools the Web site plans to provide to any individual or company wishing to download the Internet time keeper onto their systems.

"The great thing about GeT is that it addresses a problem before it becomes an issue," DHL global e-commerce strategy manager, Colum Joyce.

In practice, GeT acts as an e-commerce middle man, aligning the time on one computer in one part of the world with the time on another computer in another part of the world, Joyce said.

The tools, which include a Java applet that synchronizes a computer with GeT time using HTML initialization and NTP (Network Time Protocol), will be available to consumers in three to six months, Joyce said.

Though the U.S. military already maintains its own highly accurate atomic clocks, GeT believes that by giving away the tools needed to use the atomic clock-based GeT, U.S. businesses and industries worldwide will use GeT in an effort to control adaptation costs.

"Once tools are in place, people in the U.S. will adopt GeT," Joyce said.

The online time standard project was proposed by Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) last year and is being managed by London Internet Exchange (LINX).

LINX oversees Internet exchange points between ISP (Internet Service Providers) within the U.K. as well as between the U.K. and the rest of the world.

Datum eBusiness Solutions, the makers of secure time reference and information distribution software also announced today it had joined the GeT project.

GeT can be found at http://www.get-time.co.uk/. IMRG, in London, can be contacted at +44-7000-46-4674, or at http://www.imrg.org/. LINX, in Peterborough, England, can be contacted at +44-1733-705000, or at http://www.linx.net/.

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