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Costing a GNSS Timing Solution Installation

Costing a GNSS Timing System Installation

So, you have identified the need to serve your network with time or deliver traceable time. And you have also decided on the right timing hardware clock solution for you to deliver NTP and PTP to your network using GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou) signals.

The task does not end there, either. In most cases, you must get those signals from the roof to the rack where you are installing the clock. This includes locating and earthing the antenna correctly, routing the cable safely and planning the installation with as little disruption as possible. Consider some of the specific requirements of a GNSS install in comparison to electrical or structured cable in other posts, but what are the typical costs of installing the entire system?

Chronos has been in the GPS timing world now for over three decades and I have been working in the industry for over 20 years. We are a Microchip partner but the requirements and costs of an installation apply to most GNSS clocks where the ‘pure’ GNSS signal is fed to the clock.

Increasingly, these clocks are in third-party datacentres. This usually meaning that datacentre personnel will be running the main cable from the roof and necessary power to your rack, but their costs to do this should not vary wildly from the costs identified here.

It is true that every site installation is different, so I plan to work from our starting point here at Chronos when asked for an installation quotation. For instance, a cable run of 50m from the antenna to the equipment rack. There are a few circumstances that add costs to this ‘starter price’ and I will address these, too. These costs assume an installation in England or Wales; travel costs increase for Scotland, mainland Europe and beyond.

GNSS Antenna Kit

A typical 50m antenna kit including antenna, cables and surge protection costs in the region of £800. Using an antenna that supports multiband GNSS would bring this to around £1,000.

A cable run longer than around 120m may need additional amplification antenna (if available in the model used). It may also need an additional Inline Amplifier to ensure adequate signal is received by the clock. This additional amplification could add around £450 to material costs.

Site Survey

The Site Survey is a key activity that ensures the process can succeed. This is usually a joint effort between you and the installers, with data centre personnel if necessary. The Survey itself will identify key system component locations, access requirements and any restrictions on working areas and hours.

The document produced following the Site Survey is known as the Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS). These govern the process from both your perspective and that of the installers. This will identify methods and responsibilities to get the install done successfully and safely. Here at Chronos, we tend to cost this full process, including the RAMS, at £700.

Installation and Commissioning

Typically, it would take two installation technicians two todays to complete a 50m GNSS installation. From a safety point of view with rooftop working, it is imperative that two people are in attendance. This is often the main cable run needs to be fed from top to bottom in a riser, requiring two people. Including travel and accommodation costs, a two-day install will cost £3,500.

This cost includes commissioning the clock hardware, including eliminating the time the GNSS signals take to travel through the cable, testing manageability such as web GUI and SNMP, testing any pulse and waveform outputs and ensuring time is served correctly via NTP and PTP, as necessary. Project management costs for the whole installation process will also be included in this cost.

Another additional cost identified at Site Survey is the requirement to hire equipment. This could extend to a cherry picker to gain access to the roof to install the antenna and surge protection. Allow around £750 should this be required.

Complex or particularly long cable runs (above 120m) may require a three-day rather than two-day install – costing around £5,200. This is also the cost of a two-day installation in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Appropriate additional daily costs could also be identified at Site Survey should out of hours or weekend work be required.


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