Light beams mounted on the tops of buildings could soon carry messages about rising and falling prices.

A form of rapid-fire communication previously only available to the military is now coming to the financial world. Lasers perched atop high-rise buildings will next month allow the New York Stock Exchange’s data center in Mahwah, NJ to communicate with NASDAQ‘s data center in Carteret, NJ. Though these two data centers are only 35 miles apart, the light will allow them to communicate with unprecedented speed. It is the culmination of a quest for instantaneous trading that first utilized custom-built fiber-optic cables, then microwave and later millimeter-wave transmissions, and the speed at which traders’ orders are transmitted is rapidly approaching the speed of light. The technology is expected to spread to the Stock Exchange’s trading clients as well, which are currently offered a system that uses microwaves.

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