Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Examination of Time and Frequency Control Across Wide Area Networks Using IEEE-1588v2 Unicast Transmissions



Andrew N. Novick, Marc A. Weiss, Kang B. Lee, Douglas D. Sutton


The IEEE 1588-2008 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) version 2 (IEEE 1588v2) can be used to synchronize a slave clock with a grandmaster clock over a wide area network (WAN). However, many of the algorithms the slaves use to steer to the master are optimized for a scenario where both devices are on the same subnet or local area network (LAN). This paper is a study of existing PTP hardware from a number of different manufacturers in unicast mode. We characterize the performance of the equipment, beginning with the timing outputs of the masters that are locked to their built-in Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. Next, we compare the results of steering unicast clients to their masters through a LAN versus several wider area network configurations such as virtual-LANs and the public Internet. Analysis of the results will show how client of different manufacture handle the various network settings. It is our hope that these comparisons will instigate changes to clock steering and synchronization algorithms may help improve the overall capabilities of PTP for telecom and other networking environments. As network synchronization techniques improve, the quality of the PTP masters will become more significant. Therefore, the performance and traceable calibration of the PTP masters to a National Measurement Institute (NMI) is also discussed.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the 2011 Joint IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium and European Frequency and Time Forum
Conference Dates
May 1-5, 2011
Conference Location
San Francisco, CA


Network Timing, IEEE-1588, Precision Time Protocol
Created July 31, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017