Speed Is King As Transatlantic Race Hots Up

Terry Flanagan

The title of providing the quickest transatlantic fiber-optic cable connection between major financial exchanges in London and New York has been claimed again in what seems like the mere blink of an eye.

Perseus Telecom, a US-based provider of trading connectivity, in partnership with Indian telecommunications giant Reliance Globalcom, today announced that users of its QuanTA connection can guarantee execution times of less than 60 milliseconds.

Just last month, Hibernia Atlantic, a New Jersey-based operator of undersea telecom cables, announced that it aims reduce the time it takes data to travel on a round trip between London and New York to 59.6 milliseconds, shaving 5.2 milliseconds off the current top speed of 64.8 milliseconds. The project, called Project Express, which will be finished some time next year, is costing $300m to implement as it is laying a brand new cable across the Atlantic. The current fastest transatlantic cable, called AC-1, was laid in 1998 and was expected to maintain its market position until Project Express became live.

“Fast-paced trading environments demand even faster connectivity, particularly across the Atlantic where, traditionally, the patchwork grid of cable systems across the ocean had not allowed for a truly low-latency network,” said Dr. Jock Percy, chief executive of Perseus Telecom.

Percy says the QuanTA connection is the fastest cable system across the Atlantic and offers the lowest latency for the high-frequency algorithmic trading community.

Rather than build a new cable like Hibernia Atlantic, Perseus Telecom and Reliance Globalcom leveraged an existing system on the FA-1 North cable, a fiber-optic cable stretching between Long Island in New York and Land’s End in Cornwall. FA-1 North is currently the second fastest transatlantic cable after the AC-1. But using the latest advancements in optical technology, better dispersion compensation methodology, faster processing equipment and shorter cable paths has allowed the FA-1 North cable to achieve connectivity of less than 60 milliseconds.

“With this service, we are now connecting the US and UK on the fastest link, addressing the business needs of our customers, especially in the financial sector, to help them gain a significant market advantage,” said Rory Cole, president and chief operating officer of carrier business for Reliance Globalcom.

As high-frequency traders on both sides of the Atlantic demand ever greater latency, the race is on to shave even more milliseconds off trading times between the two financial hubs. It is estimated that through a combination of improved lasers and cables that run in a true straight line from London to New York then trades could eventually be executed at a mere 40 milliseconds. Anything quicker would have to travel faster than the speed of light or through the centre of the Earth.

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