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NIST to shutter WWV, WWVH, WWVB?

NIST to shutter WWV, WWVH, WWVB?

KB6NU's Ham Radio Blog - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 1:18pm

WWV broadcast format. Click to see full-size version.

Nearly two weeks ago, The SWLing Post reported that the NIST FY2019 budget includes a request to shutdown WWV and WWVH. The post pointed to a summary of the 2019 budget request with the following:

Illustrative program reductions in FY 2019

  • -$6.3 million supporting fundamental measurement dissemination, including the shutdown of NIST radio stations in Colorado and Hawaii

The cutback apparently includes not only WWV and WWVH, but WWVB, whose 60 kHz signal is used to synchronize innumerable clocks in the U.S. Here’s an email that I got I got from someone at the National Institiute of Science and Technology (NIST) just this morning:

NIST has a long-standing history of providing time and frequency services through our radio stations and we appreciate that many people use these services.   NIST’s WWV is the longest continuously-operating radio service in the U.S.  At the same time, the proposed NIST budget for FY 2019 required difficult choices about budget priorities.

The President’s full NIST FY 2019 budget request to the Congress is available at the link below, including a brief description of why the shutdown of NIST’s time and frequency radio stations is proposed. The proposal includes shutdown of NIST’s three radio stations, WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, which communicate with consumer clocks, watches, broadcasting systems and other devices. It is important to note that no changes to NIST services have occurred, and if the proposal were to be implemented, public notice would be provided.

I’m really amazed by this. You’d think that someone involved in selling clocks would have enough pull to keep WWVB on the air. And, sadly, I just purchased several clockworks that use this signal and have already converted one of the clock in my basement.

Ironically, WWV was all set to celebrate it’s 100th anniversary in 2019. NIST claims that WWV is the “oldest continuously operating radio station in the world,” and was planning a  grand celebration.

WWV isn’t the only thing being cut

The time stations aren’t the only thing being cut in this budget proposal. If you read through the entire document, you’ll see they are making cuts in many different programs. On page NIST 25 alone, you’ll see that they are proposing cuts in the program used to produce gas reference material, which is used to calibrate instrumentation used in environmental research. In addition, they are cutting programs that will impact first responder safety, smart grid standards, and “standards and guidelines for wireless communication and process control for the manufacturing industry.”

As others have pointed out, this is just a proposal, and I’d be seriously surprised if this actually occurred, but who knows these days? If you’d like to ensure that WWV, WWVH, and WWVB stay on the air—and some of these other programs remain funded—you can sign an electronic petition that’s supposed to get the attention of someone at the White House. More importantly, it will probably be more effective to contact your U.S. representative and senators and tell them that you want these programs to continue.

Seriously, how much can we cut these basic programs without hurting ourselves in the long run?

 

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