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Perseus Debuts Fastest Transatlantic Link; Takes Aim at Hibernia’s Planned Express

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Perseus Telecom, in partnership with India’s Reliance Globalcom, has debuted what is now the fastest transatlantic cable, dubbed QuanTA, and says it has plans to match the expected speed of Hibernia Atlantic’s Express, which is slated for 2013 rollout.

QuanTA leverages the FLAG Atlantic-1 North cable (FA-1) – operated by Reliance – which became operational in 2001, and which connects Long Island in the U.S. with Lands End in the U.K. via 6-pairs of optical fibre.

According to Perseus CEO Jock Percy, while FA-1 is actually the second shortest cable across the Atlantic (the shortest and until-now fastest route being the AC-1 route operated by Level 3 Communications), the cable was envisioned for applications such as voice and bulk video, and was never optimised for speed.

Percy says that by optimising one of the cable pairs for low latency rather than capacity – including installing and configuring networking equipment from Ciena – Perseus has reduced the latency from around 68 milliseconds round trip (similar performance  to AC-1) to about 64 milliseconds – making it the new fastest connection in place today.

Also part of the latency reduction is new land-based connectivity to the on-ramps for the service, at 111 8th Avenue and New York City, and Equinix’s LD4 facility in Slough, near London.

As well as speed, Percy points out that because the new service is leveraging existing cable, it is cost efficient, and does not require trading firms to “pay the low-latency tax” often associated with new and higher-priced cable networks. He’s not saying how much it costs, though, but says the service is live with customers.

At 64 milliseconds or thereabouts, QuanTA is 4-5 ms slower than the planned Express service from Hibernia Atlantic, which is due to go live in 2013. That service – which will use a new cable laid at a cost of some $300 million along a shortest path – is expected to deliver 59.6 milliseconds round trip performance.

But Percy says that Perseus has already begun work on phase 2 of QuanTA, which will involve branching FA-1 at a point offshore from Nova Scotia to shorten the cable path to New York City. That development, he says, will deliver a latency similar to Hibernia’s Express at a lower price – and will go some way to undermining Hibernia’s business model, which is predicated on the belief that trading firms will pay a premium for the lowest latency.

The rollout of QuanTA follows on from the roll out by Perseus last year of the lowest-latency connection between Nasdaq OMX’s Carteret, NJ data centre and the BM&F BOVESPA exchange in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That project leveraged cable from GlobeNet, and delivers 106 milliseconds round trip.

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