A technology more than 15 years old is getting a brand-new publicity brush-up because it's been discovered by the high-frequency trading community. Free space optics is older than The Register, even: it's been around so long that in the mid-1990s, it was even exciting in Australia, where a company called Davnet was founded to …
Latency arbitrage for high frequency trading is leading to a rebirth in microwave vs. fiber, notably between New York and Chicago. Microwave data mom is an exceedingly robust and mature technology, unlike free space optics, though.
Making Stuff Faster
The PBS Nova series Making Stuff covered the construction of microwave-based trading networks between Chicago and New York as part of an episode entitled Making Stuff Faster at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/making-more-stuff.html#making-stuff-faster Look about 3/4 of the way through the video or see the transcript on that same page.
The world would be a better place
if the stock exchanges banned high-frequency trading ('gambling') - it serves no real-world purpose, i.e. the companies whose stock is being traded, and the 'real' investors in those companies derive no benefit ( the only reason for having stock exchanges in the first place).
"if the stock exchanges banned high-frequency trading ('gambling') -"
It's been suggested.
There are counter arguments.(that you're looking to install a digital filter on the trading of every stock) I think there's an El Reg article about it by someone much more clueful than I.
But I like the banning idea as well. .
Re: The world would be a better place
There seems little point banning based on legal minimum duration of exposure to risk of ownership, though there would be a moral case for that. It seems to me to make more sense to introduce the Tobin Tax on such transactions - a very tiny percentage of the value of the transaction which encourages longer term thinking by the investor, and which benefits public services also.
Free space optics?
Damn, I read that and thought they were giving Hubble away until I realised the article was about free-space optics.
Re Free space optics
Tell me about it,
I've still got a space on my shelve for my
"Free Nelson Mandela" !
...and don't forget "Free the Petit Four!"
And in related news...
The BBC World Service top-of-the-hour 'pips' arrive at my house about 15 seconds late (referenced to a variety of reliable time sources). I suspect that SiriusXM satellite radio is fed through the Interweb, and the latencies here and there, not to mention the trip to and from the satellites, and some buffering in the radio itself, it all adds up to about 15 seconds. Sometimes 18. Making it all kinda pointless in a charming sort of way.
I expect that the 'High Frequency' Traders will eventually move to neutrino communications, shooting neutrinos straight through the Earth's core. Shorter path.
FSO / Millimetre wave vs. microwave
FSO and millimetre wave are interesting in that while they have the same latency as microwave, they offer much higher bandwidth. The trade off is that they don’t propagate as far as microwave before they need repeating, having a tower every 10km vs 30-40km.
Systems offering a combination of millimetre wave and laser are now available, they have the advantage that while they are both affected by atmospheric conditions, millimetre wave is badly affected by moisture (rain, fog) and laser is less affected by moisture, but is affected by scintillation (heat haze), since these conditions rarely occur together hybrid systems provide a much more reliable signal.
Multi Colocation, Regional Datacenters, Webscale, ...
Doesn't "The Cloud" v1 solve these problems of regional latency? (Not "The Could" v2, which seems to mean only that you're not using your own server.)
Forget direct line of sight - what you need is a PBG fibre; check out:
You get the speed of light in air coupled to the convenience, security and backwards compatibility of old fashioned optical fibre.
Seems like an ideal way to set up a VPN sans NSA/GCHQ interference, methinks.
FSO as I see it is more an educational application for student learning projects and hobbyists. The effect of weather conditions on propagation are reliable enough for hobbyist applications, but probably not reliable enough for transaction markets.
For those wanting to play, have a look at Ronja .
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