Guidelines for Defining Packet Timestamps

The information below is for an old version of the document
Document Type Expired Internet-Draft (ntp WG)
Authors Tal Mizrahi  , Joachim Fabini  , Al Morton 
Last updated 2019-08-15 (latest revision 2019-02-11)
Replaces draft-mizrahi-intarea-packet-timestamps
Stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Expired & archived
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Various network protocols make use of binary-encoded timestamps that are incorporated in the protocol packet format, referred to as packet timestamps for short. This document specifies guidelines for defining packet timestamp formats in networking protocols at various layers. It also presents three recommended timestamp formats. The target audience of this memo includes network protocol designers. It is expected that a new network protocol that requires a packet timestamp will, in most cases, use one of the recommended timestamp formats. If none of the recommended formats fits the protocol requirements, the new protocol specification should specify the format of the packet timestamp according to the guidelines in this document. The rationale behind defining a relatively small set of recommended formats is that it enables significant reuse; network protocols can typically reuse the timestamp format of the Network Time Protocol (NTP) or the Precision Time Protocol (PTP), allowing a straightforward integration with an NTP or a PTP-based timer. Moreover, since accurate timestamping mechanisms are often implemented in hardware, a new network protocol that reuses an existing timestamp format can be quickly deployed using existing hardware timestamping capabilities.


Tal Mizrahi (
Joachim Fabini (
Al Morton (

(Note: The e-mail addresses provided for the authors of this Internet-Draft may no longer be valid.)