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HFT ‘eyesore’ upsets leafy England

High-frequency trading is causing upset way beyond the City of London and Wall Street … in the leafy English countryside.

Two radio masts, each taller than the Eiffel Tower, are planned for construction on the coast of south-east England.


Masts would loom over Sandwich
Masts would loom over Sandwich

The masts would form part of a network allowing information to be transmitted at lightning fast speeds between London and Continental Europe.

That speed allows high-frequency traders to shave crucial milliseconds off the execution of trades, thereby beating competition and taking advantage of anomalies in different markets.

One application, made by Canadian IT firm Vigilant Global, is for a 324-meter mast which would be higher than The Shard, Europe's tallest building.

On their website Vigilant Global explained why the tower needs to be so high.

"Due to the distance between the two communications points over the horizon it means that transmitted signals can be blocked by the curvature of the earth," reads the statement.

Local residents have bombarded the council website with objections, slamming the mast as "an eyesore" and "a blot on the landscape."

A final decision now rests with the Dover District Council but this is not the only worry for local residents.

Second Mast

A fresh application for a second mast nearby has been received by the council on February 19 under the name New Line Networks.

On their website New Line Networks said if approved,construction will start later in 2016 with completion set for the first half of 2017.

New Line Networks is part-owned by high-frequency trading company, Jump Trading, a controversial company that came under investigation of the New York Attorney General in 2014. Jump Trading was subpoenaed alongside other high-frequency trading firms but was never accused of any wrongdoing.

According to Bloomberg, Jump Trading also owns the Belgian microwave tower that will communicate directly with the new mast.