Fixing long-distance latency comes with a $4.5 billion price tag

Earlier today, I came across this article via Velocity’s always-excellent newsletter. Not just an interesting read in its own right, it’s also incredible validation of the relationship between performance and metrics.

To summarize, this summer marks the start of a massive project to lay the first ever trans-Arctic Ocean submarine fiber optic cables connecting the United Kingdom and Japan. In total, the three cables are expected to cost between $1.8 and $4.5 billion. Why? To reduce latency by a mere 60 milliseconds.

This small latency boost is expected to yield big results:

The massive drop in latency is expected to supercharge algorithmic stock market trading, where a difference of a few milliseconds can gain (or lose) millions of dollars.

These kinds of results are the reason why a similar cable is currently being laid between the UK and the US:

“[The UK-US cable] will cost $300 million and shave “just” six milliseconds off the fastest link currently available.”

At Strangeloop, we’ve recently conducted some research into mobile and desktop latency. I’m working on a post about it, which should be ready next week.

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