60ms London to Tokyo latency cut to cost billions

Shane McGlaun - Mar 21, 2012, 6:38 am CDT
60ms London to Tokyo latency cut to cost billions

Sometime this summer a mission will begin costing serious money and time. A three-ship convoy to lay new fiber optic cables between Tokyo and London will take off. The flotilla will begin to lay the first trans-Arctic ocean submarine fiber-optic cables. The three cables will cost up to $1.5 billion each. The goal of the cables is to reduce latency between London and Tokyo and to increase redundancy.

Our resident Londoners here at SlashGear say they’ve never had an issue with packets dropped to coworkers in Tokyo making me rather curious to the true need and expense of the project. The end goal will see latency between London and Tokyo reduced from 230 ms today to 170 ms for a savings of 60 ms. It’s hard to fathom billions spent to save literally a fraction of a second. Two cables will cross the Northwest Passage running through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago the third will skirt the north coast of Scandinavia and Russia.

One of the Canadian bound cables is called Arctic Fiber and the other is called Arctic Link, the Russian coast cable is called Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Submarine Cable System. The newly laid cables will offer a more direct run between London and Tokyo, which is where the reduced latency will come from. As it stands now packets sent from the UK to Tokyo have to travel about 15,000 miles compared to the roughly 10,000-mile trek using the new cables.

Considering the time needed to blink your eyes is between 300 and 400 ms, the latency between Tokyo and London is already less than the blink of an eye. The reduction in latency may seem small, but apparently it can have a big difference in money made or lost in algorithmic stock market trading.

[via ExtremeTech]

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