New Fibre Optic Cable To Boost Transatlantic Comms

A new transatlantic submarine communications cable is to be installed on the Atlantic seabed at a reported cost of $300 million (£189m).

The high speed fibre optic cable, known as the Hibernian Express, will eventually stretch to 3,741 miles (6,021km), as seabed survey work begins on the east coast of America.

The cable will offer sub 60ms latency, and it will connect financial traders in New York and London. The company behind the project, Hibernia Atlantic, said the cable would initially be lit with 40Gb technology, which could be upgraded to 100Gb technology in the future.

Low Latency Demand

“Demand for low latency routes has grown exponentially over the past several years,” said Bjarni Thorvardarson, CEO of Hibernia Atlantic in a statement. “Project Express will offer the lowest latency from New York to London and provide demanding customers the speed and accuracy they require.”

At the moment, financial traders are relying on submarine cabling that was installed during the 1990s and the dot-com bubble. And as millisecond delays in trading costs money, the new cable claims it will be very cost effective for customers.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Hibernia Atlantic is planning to sell a special superfast bandwidth offering to financial firms in London and New York. The newspaper quotes predictions that customers will pay about 50 times as much to link up via the Hibernian Express as they do via existing transatlantic cables.

This is because of speed.

The newspaper said that the fastest cross-Atlantic cable is Global Crossing’s AC-1 cable, which offers transatlantic connection in 65 milliseconds. The Hibernian Express will reportedly shave six milliseconds off that time.

A one millisecond advantage in financial trading could be worth up to $100 million (£63m) a year to the bottom line of a large hedge fund, said the Telegraph.

Short Route

The new cable will start out from New York, using Hibernia’s current low latency cable from that city to Halifax in Canada. From there it delves into the ocean and follows the circular London-to-New York route that aeroplanes follow when crossing the Atlantic.

This apparently is the shortest route between the two continents and will shave off 310 miles (498km) from the shortest existing route.

The cable will apparently land not in Cornwall, the traditional location for many transatlantic cables, but in the county of Somerset.

It is being laid by a British firm, Global Marine Systems, which is reportedly using two ships and a  remote controlled vehicle to help lay the cable.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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