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McKay Brothers Builds Out Low Latency Microwave Connectivity

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McKay Brothers is shaving fractions of milliseconds off its microwave routes between US financial data centres as it begins to deliver its 2014 US Microwave Roadmap. The roadmap targets latency between Aurora in Chicago, Illinois and Secaucus in New Jersey at below 8.05 milliseconds and latency between Aurora and Carteret, New Jersey at below 8.00 milliseconds. These latencies are expected to be achieved gradually through the year as the company adds upgraded radio equipment from supplier Aviat Networks and reduces indirectness on its routes.

As well as reducing latency on its Illinois to New Jersey route, McKay has opened additional points of presence at data centres in Piscataway, New Jersey and at 350 E Cermak in Chicago and is offering a round trip time of 7.98 milliseconds from Aurora to CTS NJ3 in Piscataway.

Clients at 350 E Cermak can now listen to westbound data from New Jersey collocations, with round trip latency from Secaucus NY2 at 7.83 milliseconds, from Secaucus NY4 at 7.84 milliseconds and from Carteret at 7.82 milliseconds. The reverse trip with 350 E Cermak being an injection point for eastbound data to New Jersey will be available in a few weeks time. A route between Aurora and Mahwah, home of the NYSE trading engine, is also being developed for release in the second quarter and the company is in production with a single, bidirectional megabit bandwidth service between Illinois and New Jersey.

McKay says it made the roadmap to help buyers make better choices of connectivity, but it is also keenly aware of the prospect of more competition as microwave low latency routes become more popular among and beyond high frequency trading firms. Stephane Tyc, co-founder of McKay Brothers, says: “We are busy working on the next steps, delivering Mahwah and trebling private bandwidth capacity. We are excited by the immediate adoption of our single megabit service. The market is expanding beyond first adopters, this technology will be mainstream very soon.”

Among competitors on the Illinois to New Jersey route are Nasdaq and the CME, which got together with network vendor Strike Technologies to provide a low latency route, and Tradework. While McKay acknowledges competition, it suggests it has a larger footprint than other microwave connectivity providers with points of presence at Aurora and 350 E Cermak in Illinois and at Secaucus, Newark, Carteret, Weehawken and Piscataway in New Jersey, with Mahwah to follow soon.

In terms of network improvement, Jim Considine, chief financial officer and head of business development and strategy at McKay, says: “Since 2012, we have been using traditional microwave that has been tried and tested for decades, but we can get latency to near zero by reducing route indirection and implementing improved repeaters from radio technology manufactures. Ultimately, we want to achieve latency as close as possible to the speed of light. We are also working to add capacity to meet growing demand. ”

Network reliability is also on the agenda, with McKay working to improve its 99% reliability achievement by developing sophisticated failover solutions as well as space diversity technology that it hopes to have in place over Lake Michigan by the time temperatures rise this summer and cause potential disruption to the company’s networks.

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