Financial traders turn to lasers for faster deals

New York Stock Exchange High-frequency trading is replacing traditional methods

Related Stories

In the world of computerised financial trading, every second counts and superfast fibre-optic networks may no longer be quick enough.

Laser beam technology originally developed for the military is being rolled out to shave time off trades.

It will compete with new microwave networks that are increasingly being used by traders.

The company behind it, Anova, said it would be as fast as microwave networks and as reliable as fibre.

"There is more money being poured into this... space than at any time in its history," said chief executive Mike Persico.

The company has formed a joint venture with AOptix, which was founded by two California scientists who developed the laser technology for the US military to improve communication between fighter jets.

Initially the system, which combines lasers and wireless dishes, will be rolled out on short-range US and UK networks, with the first long-haul route between the UK and Germany being added later.

High-frequency trading (HFT) is driven by complex algorithms that allow traders to jump ahead of competitors by exploiting minute discrepancies in price on exchanges in different cities.

Market volatility

In such trading, every millisecond counts and the competition to provide ever-faster trading networks is fierce.

The first microwave connection between London and Frankfurt was turned on last October by Perseus Telecom.

MICROWAVE TRADING NETWORKS

  • Originally used in the 1970s for phone networks
  • Microwave networks rely on dishes that are installed on buildings and mobile phone towers
  • Signals can be disrupted by bad weather
  • They have limited capacity

According to the company, the system cut about 40% off the time taken to complete a trade compared with traditional fibre-optic networks.

They cannot entirely replace fibre optics because the signal can be disrupted by bad weather and the network has limited capacity.

HFT in Europe is believed to account for nearly 40% of total equities trading, generating 6.7tn euros (£5.6tn) a year.

The method is controversial and has also been blamed for causing market volatilities, such as the notorious flash crash in May 2010 that wiped 10% off the value of the stock market in minutes.

Increasingly regulators are looking at ways to bring in tougher rules for such trading.

Other technologies that may be used in future to help make trades even faster include the use of drones as platforms for wireless links.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features

  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world


  • Irvine WelshScots missed

    Five famous Scots who can't vote in the Scottish referendum


  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Glasgow 2014 quaichs and medalsQuaich guide

    What do the Scottish gifts given to Games medallists symbolise?


  • Malaysian plane wreckage in UkraineFlight risk

    How odd is it for three planes to crash in eight days?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.