Vigilant Global builds new wireless network in Europe, North America

Vigilant Global builds new wireless network in Europe, North America

Planning applications are underway in both the U.S. and U.K.

Earlier this month, city councillors in Castle Point, England, a town 30 miles east of central London, turned down a proposal from Vigilant Global, the secretive Montreal-based proprietary trading company, to add two new dish antennae to the local water tower.


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The plans called for 60cm and 1.2m dishes – the latter of which would have been the biggest antennae on the building so far.

The failed application appears to be one of several Vigilant Global has made over the past 12 to 18 months including one in London’s Crystal Palace ward and another in Westmont, Illinois, just west of Chicago where Michael Bieniek of Lora, Chanthadouangsy & Castellanos, LLC, requested a permit to place more than three antennas on a structure on behalf of his client.

A Minstead Parish council report for another application states:

The dishes would aid the business of Vigilant Global, a company which serves the electronic finance sector. They are currently in the process of designing and implementing a wireless network to replace their existing fibre infrastructure.

The application further notes:

Vigilant Global is a Montreal-based R&D and IT firm that designs and deploys high-performance systems for the world of electronic finance. Vigilant Global operates a proprietary communication network across the UK for the transfer of information between various sites. They are currently in the process of designing and implementing a wireless network to provide redundancy to their existing fibre infrastructure. As such, they need several links and sites in order to establish a connection. The dishes at this site are essential to allow them to use this location as an intermediary, but network critical, link for the overall end to end connection.

The scheme merely seeks to install 2 new dishes, onto the existing mast, and one which is already populated with a significant amount of telecommunications equipment.

The most interesting information about the network, however, can be found in a statement  submitted on behalf of Arqiva and Vigilant Global in support of an application for full planning permission at a site off Cuckoo Lane, Bulbarrow Hill, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 0HQ. This existing electronic communications site is controlled and managed by Arqiva, which is “a radio site management company which provides much of the infrastructure behind television, radio and wireless communications in the UK and has a growing presence in Ireland, mainland Europe and the USA.”

I’ve linked to a cached version of the statement, which appears to have been removed from the website where I found it 10 days ago (cached versions are temporary so this link may die too). Below I’ve picked out some of the juicy bits — or at least what I found to be the juicy bits.

From Section 1, INTRODUCTION:

1.4 As explained in more detail in the accompanying Economic Statement, the transmission dishes (point to point radio links often known as ‘microwave’ links),will form part of a wider network of low latency dish backhaul solutions for Vigilant Global, a company providing network solutions for clients operating within the London and global financial securities and trading markets.

From Section 2, LOW LATENCY DISH COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK:

2.1 As set out in greater detail within the supporting Economic Statement, within the financial securities markets there is an ever increasing demand for faster trading speeds through advanced communications technology. In particular, high frequency computer-based trading (HFT) has grown in recent years to represent about 30% of equity trading in the UK and possibly over 60% in the USA.

2.2 The key factor in high-frequency trading is ‘latency’, a term used by trading firms to define delays that occur in transmitting buy and sell orders. The “millisecond environment” in which today’s financial markets operate mean that computers respond to each other at a speed 100 times faster than it would take for a human trader to blink. This is extremely important. The US TABB Group estimates that a five millisecond delay in transmitting an automatic trade can cost a broker 1% of its flow; which could be worth £2.6m in revenues per millisecond.

2.3 One of the major restrictions to latency is the use of fixed line fibre optic networks. This is now leading to significant investment in the UK to improve trading speeds through the use of low latency wireless dish communicationnetworks.

2.4 The proposed development will form part of larger network of ultra high speed (low latency) wireless dish communications sites which will support the UK financial services industry. The low latency network being developed will be very high speed and is critical to enable competitive trading undertaken on an automated basis. The value of such trading runs into the millions each day and without such networks, City based financial institutions would find themselves at a disadvantage compared to other world financial centres. At best this would result in reduced profits, but at worst could mean financial institutions relocating from the UK.

2.5 The proposed new communications dishes at the existing communications site at Bulbarrow Hill is absolutely critical to meeting this low latency microwave networkand ensuring that London remains the world’s leading financial centre and hence a major contributor to the UK GDP. It is for this reason that achieving sustainable growth in the UK Financial sector and embracing new infrastructure requirements such as low latency communication networks is embodied in the former and present Governments UK growth agenda.

From Section 3, OPERATIONAL NEED – BULBARROW HILL:

3.3 The height of the mast, at 70m, and its geographical and topographical position on Bulbarrow Hill, make it an ideal technical solution for Vigilant’s requirements as it provides a direct and unobstructed path towards suitable other communication tower locations in the low latency network. These links form part of a transatlantic route that will run overland from Cornwall, Devon and Dorset (to/from the US) to the City of London and thereafter to routes across theChannel into Continental Europe, linking with financial centres there, particularly Frankfurt.

3.6 This is an important financial and operational benefit, as it executes the principle that the smallest number of radio sites connected by dish links will ensure lowest latency times due to shorter travel time for trading information. In the millisecond trading environment, this is very important to the successful operation of these low latency networks in the UK and will ensure that the UK securities and trading markets and wider Digital Economy remains highly efficient and globally competitive.

From Section 7, SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS:

7.1 In summary, the application seeks full planning permission for the installation of additional electronic communications apparatus that will form a critical role in Vigilant Global’s low latency network. This network, which supports the UK’s financial services industry, provides a nationally important communications infrastructure route linking the UK to USA and Europe.

These quotes strike me as especially interesting given that the FBI has now reopened its investigation into how media companies transmit government data to investors. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that one of the reasons the multi-year investigation had finally been shut down was because the government had concerns about whether it could prove in court that a time advantage for a trader of a sliver of a second—as little as a few thousandths—was enough to conduct profitable trades on confidential information.

Seems like someone should get hold of a copy of the Arqiva document not to mention the TABB Group’s estimates.

Despite its multi-year investigation, the FBI has never found any wrong-doing and no charges have been laid against anyone. There is no indication at all that anything illegal has ever taken place.

Based on my research, certain players in media lock-ups had a completely legal speed advantage.

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