Saturday, 21 January 2012 00:00
GENEVA - A special session of Radiocommunication Assembly led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Thursday agreed to defer a decision on the replacement of the current system of time-calculating standard, the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
For over a decade, scientists and radiocommunication experts have been wrangling over whether to develop a continuous time standard in order to address the concerns over the inconvenience of UTC that requires readjusting, from time to time, by inserting an additional "leap second."
However, the session concluded that further studies will be carried out to "ensure that all the technical options have been fully addressed," according to a press communique issued by the ITU.
ITU said that these studies will also involve further discussions within the ITU membership and with other organizations that have an interest in this matter.
Furthermore, results from the studies will be referred to the next Radiocommunication Assembly and World Radiocommunication Conference scheduled for 2015.
Adjustments made in one second steps, known as "leap seconds," have been implemented since 1972 to compensate for variations in the speed of the earth's rotation within the framework of UTC.
UTC is defined by ITU and is maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in cooperation with the International Earth Reference and Rotation Service (IERS).
Measurements from timing centers around the world are used in the determination of UTC, which is adjusted to within 0.9 seconds of Earth rotation time (UT1) by IERS-determined values of the Earth's rotation.
Some experts argue a more predictable time system with less "leap seconds" would make continuous time scale available for all the modern electronic navigation and computerized systems to operate with and eliminate the need for specialized ad hoc time systems.
While others fear that may have social and legal consequences when the accumulated difference between UT1 -- Earth rotation time -- would reach a perceivable level, namely two to three minutes in 2100 and about 30 minutes in 2700.
ITU says the new decision will ensure that all stakeholders have been adequately associated with a step which will clearly influence our future.
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