Free space optics to speed stock exchange

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Data transmitted between the data centres of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq will soon be made by a laser network, which is due to be switched on in March.

Chicago-based Anova, a low-latency network and optical engineering firm, has set up the laser network that covers the 35 miles between the data centres of the NYSE in Mahwah, New Jersey and those of Nasdaq in Carteret, NJ.

Fibre optic, microwave and millimetre wave networks are all used to transmit data for high-frequency trading, a type of stock trading that relies on computer algorithms to make large numbers of trades extremely quickly. The new laser link will transmit data only marginally faster than existing technologies, but its low latency could result in large profits because of the volume of trades.

Anova’s laser network is based on technology developed by AOptix for military communication between drones, planes and other vehicles. In the trading communication system, the laser is installed on a tower and transmits to a receiver – according to Anova, data can be transmitted at up 20km distance.

The technology combines the benefits of free space optic (FSO) lasers and millimetre wave radio frequencies, according to Anova. Speaking to Electro Optics, a spokesperson at Anova commented: ‘These two spectrums have mutually exclusive attenuation properties, which translate to the system being largely impervious to rain, fog and snow.’

The system uses adaptive gimbals that auto-track and auto-align in real time which gives the network the ability to withstand up to 3° of tower twist and sway. The company said: ‘This is non-existent in all other wireless equipment, where movement of less than 1° will cause an outage.’

The system can deliver scalable capacity up to 10Gb/s with ultra-low latency. The company commented that its network could potentially displace all other connectivity options such as fibre, microwave, and millimetre wave because of its greater availability and reduced latency.

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