In 2010 I wrote about the value of shaving off microseconds on long distance routes for high speed trading strategies. Spread Networks proved that value by creating and selling its direct link between NY and Chicago, cutting off roughly 3 milliseconds from the roundtrip.
I spend a lot of time looking at the maps back then, and can tell you there is virtually no more direct path between the two cities. I joked in the report that the only way to go more direct was a wire between the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. Well, it seems McKay and Aviat are trying to do just that (albeit with slightly different end points), with microwaves.
Microwaves can in fact cut time off the round trip, but there are a lot of caveats. The bandwith of microwave is very low. It would be nearly impossible to send the entire OPRA feed in real-time for example. Microwave is also impacted by weather. Bad rain and snow could shut the communications down (it never snows in Chicago does it?).
Conversations I’ve had tell me that the better application for microwave is short term links – say Mahwah to Carteret. Even still, it seems the NY-Chicago route will come online and inevitably people will jump on board. Quite frankly I don’t think it will hurt Spread that much, but it does present an interesting new option. Apparently low latency isn’t dead.