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Time Might Not Be on Your Side—Unless You’re Using SendMyCall or EZphone.systems

Crystal-clear sound is among the many great things worth celebrating about the free virtual PBX business phone system you get from SendMyCall or from EZphone.systems when you buy one or more of their virtual toll-free telephone numbers.

And because SendMyCall and EZphone.systems users can hear with such great clarity, they love conducting business over the phone.

However, if you take phone meetings at scheduled times, you may find it a good idea to start keeping a sharper eye on the clock.

Owing to changes in the way electric utility companies now operate, it’s possible you could dial in late to your meeting if you’re not careful.

According to scientists at the U.S. Naval Observatory's National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington, D.C., clocks that run on electricity from the wall of your home or office can give you the incorrect time.

Research those scientists conducted suggests that electric-powered clocks can occasionally be off by as much as seven-and-a-half minutes from the official time maintained by the Naval Observatory.

That means if you tell a customer you’ll call at 10 and you glance up at the clock on the wall and see that it’s 9:59, well, guess what? It might actually be 10:06 -- and your customer with the accurate battery-powered wristwatch not affected by this problem will be none too happy having sat there twiddling her thumbs waiting for you to show up.

This will hold true as well in the reverse situation -- where it’s you who’s expecting an incoming call from the customer with the wristwatch and she sees that it’s 10 sharp but you’re not at your desk yet because you think it’s still only 9:53.

You’ll miss her call (although your SendMyCall or EZphone.systems free hosted PBX business phone system can be counted on to safely route it voicemail). But if punctuality is important to you, then this flaw in your electric wall clock will be problematic to say the least.

So what’s behind all this?

The Naval Observatory researchers say it’s because the companies that feed electricity into the U.S. power grid are no longer required to correct a phenomenon known as drift.

Electricity is supposed to flow from your wall at a steady rate of 60 hertz (another way of expressing that value is 60 cycles per second).

When the electricity hums along at 60 hertz, your clock keeps the correct time. When the electric flow falls below 60 hertz, your clock slows down. Don’t ask how. Just accept it as fact that it does.

A number of things can cause electricity to drift below 60 hertz. For example, if the weather turns really cold all of a sudden. Or if everyone turns on their air conditioners at the same time on a hot summer afternoon, that too can result in drift.

The power companies have traditionally responded to drift by immediately taking corrective action to bring the electric flow back to 60 hertz. So while your clock might have lost time in the short interim, the loss would have been barely detectable.

Fast action to stabilize the flow was par for the course because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made the power companies do it.

Not anymore.

The commission last year scrapped the drift-correction requirement at the urging of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. NERC is the entity that oversees the operation of the entire U.S. power grid.

NERC argued that the rules were too expensive to follow. They also asserted that the rules were unnecessary in light of newer, industry-developed standards.

NERC officials assured the commission that the new standards would allow drift to be corrected just as well as before. The only difference would be that correction would no longer occur immediately.

Since the rule was relaxed, Naval Observatory researchers spotted a number of drifts incident that affected the East Coast, one of which wasn’t resolved for over a week.

NERC officials explained that the incident occurred in the middle of a winter's deep freeze. They said they determined it was too risky to attempt a correction until the weather returned to its seasonal norm. And, besides, even with a week’s delay, clocks lost only about 10 seconds, the NERC said.

Still, by the National Observatory researchers’ estimates, uncorrected drift under the new standards could throw clocks off by a lot more than 10 seconds.

The scientists added that it’s not all doom and gloom for electric clocks, though. Some clocks, they assured, aren’t vulnerable to the effects of drift. For instance, drift is irrelevant to clocks synchronized with the nation’s master clock at the Naval Observatory via satellite, cable, or fiber optic connections.

The same is true of your free SendMyCall or EZphone.systems virtual PBX business phone system, which is not at all dependent on wall-delivered electricity to know the time. As a result, it’s always accurate.

So, if your customers know you’re using SendMyCall or EZphone.syste,s, don’t try using the excuse of being late to your business appointments due to electric-clock slowdown.

Offering that as your excuse will be just a waste of time.