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High-Speed Trading: My Laser Is Faster Than Your Laser

High-Speed Trading: My Laser Is Faster Than Your Laser
Photograph by John Rensten/Getty Images

A few weeks ago I wrote about Project Express, a new fiber-optic cable being built across the Atlantic that will give a select number of high-frequency traders a tiny speed advantage in trading times between New York and London. Currently, data take 64 milliseconds (give or take a few fractions of an eye blink) to travel round-trip between New York and London along a cable built in 1998 called the AC-1.

According to its New Jersey-based operator, Hibernia Atlantic, the $300 million Project Express will be 5.2 milliseconds faster than the AC-1, with an execution time of 59.6 milliseconds. That will make Project Express the world’s fastest transatlantic cable when it opens in 2013 and the first to achieve round-trip trading speeds of less than 60 milliseconds. Unless someone beats them to it.