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A New Transatlantic Cable… To Save 5 Milliseconds?

Seems worth it.

A Transatlantic Cable to Shave 5 Milliseconds off Stock Trades - Popular Mechanics

The first transatlantic cable to be laid in 10 years will not carry voice or Internet data. Instead, the line from New York to London will beam financial data to money marketers and hedge fund traders. And thanks to a shorter route than its competitors, the fiber optic cable will transmit information across the Atlantic 5 milliseconds faster….

The reason 5 milliseconds matters—and why beating that time lag could mean so much to a financial firm’s bottom line—is that high-frequency traders now automate many of their trades. Algorithms automatically execute sales and purchases based on triggers in financial data. Every trader has his or her own investment strategies, but the software often uses the same data. And as always in the world of trading, the first orders on the books are the first ones executed. With computers racing each other, a millisecond can place an order at the head of the line, before prices change as more algorithms place similar orders.

via A Transatlantic Cable to Shave 5 Milliseconds off Stock Trades – Popular Mechanics.


Intel Unveils Optical Technology to Kill Copper Cables and Make Data Centers Run Faster

While this appears to be the work of a lone manufacturer (instead of an industry standard), Intel is the 900 pound gorilla, especially when some key customers like Facebook commit to using it.

Intel hopes to make computing far more efficient by introducing a technology that replaces conventional copper data cables with faster optical data links. The breakthrough required Intel to fit lasers and other optical components onto silicon chips, which usually deal only with electronic signals.The initial version of what Intel calls its silicon photonics technology can transmit data at speeds of 100 gigabits per second along a cable approximately five millimeters in diameter. Intel will offer it for use connecting servers inside data centers, where it can take the place of PCI-E data cables that carry data at up to eight gigabits per second and networking cables that reach 40 gigabits per second at best….

…The current form of the technology was shaped by feedback from companies including Facebook, Microsoft, and cloud hosting company Rackspace, some of which have committed to using the technology, says Paniccia.

via Intel Unveils Optical Technology to Kill Copper Cables and Make Data Centers Run Faster | MIT Technology Review.

Graphene could make internet one hundred times faster

Graphene could make internet one hundred times faster | Machines Like Us

Ordinarily optical switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds – around a trillionth of a second. Through this study physicists have observed the response rate of an optical switch using ‘few layer graphene’ to be around one hundred femtoseconds – nearly a hundred times quicker than current materials.

Graphene is just one atom thick, but remarkably strong. Scientists have suggested that it would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil to break through a single sheet. Already dubbed a miracle material due to its strength, lightness, flexibility, conductivity and low cost, it could now enter the market to dramatically improve telecommunications.

via Graphene could make internet one hundred times faster | Machines Like Us.

Image via Flickr user CORE-materials

With the SoftBank buyout, will Sprint build the mother of all networks?

Before the acquisition, Clearwire was formulating plans for an LTE network that could support theoretical download speeds of 168 Mbps using just 40 MHz of its spectrum. Sprint could not only build such a network, it could build that same network capacity twice or possibly three times over as it optimizes its spectrum for mobile use and takes advantage of forthcoming LTE-Advanced technologies.

The keyword here isn’t speed — though Sprint can certainly build a fast network — it’s capacity. With more capacity Sprint can support more mobile broadband connections and deliver that service at a much lower cost to the consumer.

Sprint has some disadvantages. The 2.5 GHz airwaves aren’t the ideal airwaves for a nationwide network because their high-frequency signals don’t travel as far as the lower frequencies that AT&T and Verizon use. Also, Sprint has to use a variant of LTE called Time Division-LTE (TD-LTE) that no other U.S. operator is using, making it harder to get devices that work on its network.

But Sprint and its partners are solving those problems.

via No more excuses, Sprint. It’s time to build the mother of all networks — Tech News and Analysis.

Is the NSA tapping into Service Providers’ fiber?


Here is an interesting article alleging that the NSA has physical access to the fiber-optic cables used by internet service providers that extend the internet throughout the world. And they are doing it by forcing the private companies into security agreements.

The agreements, whose main purpose is to secure the U.S. telecommunications networks against foreign spying and other actions that could harm national security, do not authorize surveillance. But they ensure that when U.S. government agencies seek access to the massive amounts of data flowing through their networks, the companies have systems in place to provide it securely, say people familiar with the deals.

Negotiating leverage has come from a seemingly mundane government power: the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to approve cable licenses. In deals involving a foreign company, say people familiar with the process, the FCC has held up approval for many months while the squadron of lawyers dubbed Team Telecom developed security agreements that went beyond what’s required by the laws governing electronic eavesdropping.

via Agreements with private companies protect U.S. access to cables’ data for surveillance – The Washington Post.

802.11ac Wireless Devices Starting to Show Up


A brief overview of the new 802.11ac standard for wireless networks:

802.11ac is “a faster and more scalable version of 802.11n,” according to a Cisco whitepaper on the subject. It’s designed to offer wireless speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second. That’s more than double the bandwidth of the current standard, 802.11n. On the scalability front, it allows for up to eight multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) streams and multi-user MIMO. 802.11n, the standard we’ve been using for a few years now, stopped at four streams.

It also utilizes a technique called beamforming, which directs a concentrated wireless signal to a specific area — in this case, the 802.11ac wireless device you’re using. In order for beamforming to work, you need a router or base station that supports it, and a device capable of talking to the router.

via What 802.11ac Networking Is, And Why You Want It | Gadget Lab |

Photo of Apple’s new Airport Extreme via iFixit.

New ANSI/BICSI Standard now allows Direct Attach of Category cable to cameras/devices


The need for security is almost as old as mankind itself. As technology has evolved with mankind, so too have the methods and systems of security evolved, integrating technology as needed.  This has continued into present day, with security systems converging onto the network and its cabling infrastructure at an increasing rate. However, as the systems used within security have become more complex due to utilizing the benefits of the network, so too has the cabling infrastructure to address both communication and security requirements. Little has been written to support this convergence of security and cabling infrastructure, until now. BICSI 005 bridges the two worlds of security and communications by providing the security professional the requirement and recommendations of a structured cabling infrastructure needed to support today’s security systems while providing the cabling design professional information on different elements within safety and security systems that affect the cabling infrastructure design. BICSI 005 also provides information on the concept of “direct attach” and how it may be used within many forms of ESS systems.

via ANSI/BICSI 005-2013, Electronic Safety and Security (ESS) System Design and Implementation Best Practices.