Turkey Time Change – What could have been done?

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Turkey – Sunday 25 October 2015 – 03:59 EET.. Almost everybody’s sleeping.. 04:00.. Something happens.. mobile phones, pc, smartwatch don’t show 04:00.. but 03:00.. it’s Winter time! And then.. the whole population wakes up.. and ask to each other.. “Saat kaç?!” What time is it? In fact, the government decided that due to elections on November 1st, the time change will be delayed by 15 days, i.e postponed for November 8. So, is the time on the mobile phones and PCs, the true Turkish time (according to the government’s decision) or the Eastern Europe Time? And then the confusion started..

I got the update too.. from mobile phone to smartwatch and pc.. time have changed.. and in fact I was not aware of the decision and also misread a WhatsApp message regarding same. And I followed that time until Monday 26.. whereby I got 1 hour late in class! [Fact is, around 1 hour before the class, I read an article on the BBC’s website [1], about the confusion in Turkey about the time. I was puzzled, but when I cross-checked with the LED Clock in the Hostel’s canteen, I was in sync with the time there. So, I thought, we are all on the same page.. But 8 mins after I entered class.. the teacher stopped for a little break..]..

Well.. What could have been done in that situation?

The problem is here that timekeeping devices of the general public are mobile phones and computers that automatically synchronises their clocks with the regional time (in most cases.. where the Time Settings of the mobile phone is set to “Use Network Time” which is the default setting by the way). Behind the scenes, mobile phones get their time from their network providers (e.g Avea, Turkcell, Vodafone, etc) whose servers synchronises automatically with NTP Servers (Network Time protocols; the timekeeper for PCs – an international network of servers dedicated to provide the current time to  whoever asks for same.) So, the change was meant to happen whatever be the circumstances.

Network providers synchronise with time servers. Mobile phones synchronise with network providers.

Network providers synchronise with time servers.
Mobile phones synchronise with network providers.

So, what could have been done by the Mobile Phone Network Providers in Turkey, is to override the time synchronisation of their servers, prevent the latter from switching to winter time on Saturday 25 and make the change on November 8. In doing so, on the morning of Saturday 25, no mobile devices, relying on network-provided time, would have changed to winter time! Also, mobile phone manufacturer advised their customers, according to the same BBC article [1], to cancel the automatic time sync on their mobile phones (my teacher told me the same thing when I met him to ask about the time during the break time..). It’s a good idea.. but to change back to automatic on November 8? Would their not be another confusion on that day as to having some who switched back to auto and some still on manual time settings?

As for PCs, same could have done at the level of ISPs who, in ideal conditions, have their own NTP servers serving devices connected to them. But, some Operating Systems do not rely on NTP each time, they simply know “minus one hour on x day of x month, plus one hour on x day of x month”


My mobile phone, watch and laptop is in sync now, at the time of writing, with the Turkish Time. I’ve overridden the network times settings. That article was simply dedicated to the network providers in case same should happen again.

But fact is.. I hate winter time till my first time abroad for studies.. 😛 but..

Till then,

Irshaad :)

[1] – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34631326

Thanks to Mr.RS, from a telephony provider company back in my home country for technical details about how providers get their time set on their servers. 


About irshaad

Irshaad is from Mauritius and a student in Information Systems Engineering in Turkey. Social, geeky, tech-lover and everything that's linked to technology; he's in it. Not exactly 'Jack of all trades' but he likes to try and test each and everything he comes across. His personal page: irshaad.me

  • alCosecant Maths

    Hum, simple but not so . . .

    • Yes, but the ntp override can sometimes be simply unchecking a checkbox and editing a textbox :)

      • alCosecant Maths

        ha, that’s nice . . .