Wall Street Tries Shortwave Radio to Make High-Frequency Trades Across the Atlantic

Financial firms hope radio can execute trades faster than fiber optic cables

3 min read
A photo of a cell tower with multiple levels of antennas sticking out of it.
Photo: Bob Van Valzah

In 2010, the company Spread Networks completed a fiber-optic cable linking two key trading hubs: Chicago and New York (or rather New Jersey, where Wall Street has its computerized trading equipment). That cable, built at a cost of some US $300 million, took the most direct route between those two points and shaved more than a millisecond from what had formerly been the shortest round-trip travel time for information: 14.5 milliseconds.

That tiny time savings was a boon for high-frequency financial traders, who could take advantage of it to buy or sell before others learned of distant price shifts. This general strategy, called latency arbitrage, has driven a technological arms race in the trading world, with companies competing fiercely to send information from one trading center to another in the minimum possible time.

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The Cellular Industry’s Clash Over the Movement to Remake Networks

The wireless industry is divided on Open RAN’s goal to make network components interoperable

13 min read
Photo: George Frey/AFP/Getty Images

We've all been told that 5G wireless is going to deliver amazing capabilities and services. But it won't come cheap. When all is said and done, 5G will cost almost US $1 trillion to deploy over the next half decade. That enormous expense will be borne mostly by network operators, companies like AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and dozens more around the world that provide cellular service to their customers. Facing such an immense cost, these operators asked a very reasonable question: How can we make this cheaper and more flexible?

Their answer: Make it possible to mix and match network components from different companies, with the goal of fostering more competition and driving down prices. At the same time, they sparked a schism within the industry over how wireless networks should be built. Their opponents—and sometimes begrudging partners—are the handful of telecom-equipment vendors capable of providing the hardware the network operators have been buying and deploying for years.

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