Terence Sin (
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 13:28:54 +0000

Synchronizing the Internet’s Clocks

Copernicus, brainchild of 29-year-old inventor Aric Johnson, is another
idea that promises to end online traffic jams, this time using the
Global Positioning System to synchronize computers linked to the
Internet. In theory, this will allow the exchange of data in real time
“making information appear as if it were in your own computer’s memory,”
Johnson explains.

The GPS is a network of satellites maintained by the U.S. Department of
Defense that, in addition to providing extremely accurate navigation
data, supplies continuous real time information through the use of
atomic clocks.

These timing signals can be used to synchronize routers, servers,
computers and other components of the Internet to prevent “data
collisions,” says Johnson.

“The idea of an inexpensive, ultra-accurate clock synchronizing
computers to each other offers another tool in the hands of those who
are attempting to improve the performance of high-speed networks,” says
David Farber, professor of telecommunications at the University of
Pennsylvania and a member of the Presidential Information Technology
Advisory Council. “The existence of such a device offers a lot of
interesting opportunities outside networking per se. It opens up
alternatives for the designer of systems.”