The link is composed of a series of towers transmitting microwave signals through several states. Those signals travel much closer to an absolute straight line from point-to-point than a fiber-optic cable that must follow the contours of the earth's terrain, bleeding precious time along the way.
"What's exciting is you are getting as close as possible to the theoretical speed of light," said Shawn Melamed, the global head of commercial products for Strike Technologies, the company that built out the new network. "The value of knowing what's the latest data for these cross-correlated assets...is really important for making your decisions, whether you're trading 100 shares or one hundred thousand shares."
(Read More: High Frequency Trading: A Plea for a Pause)
Backers won't say what the service will cost just yet, but one published report pegs the figure at around $20,000 per month. And they say they won't be transmitting orders over the new system, just market information. But that will enable traders who subscribe to the system to fire off trades a split second before competitors without the high speed information.
Critics noted that can be unfair to average investors. As traders move markets in milliseconds in Chicago and New York, "the cost of receiving and processing market data will increase for all market participants, but only a small group will receive the benefits," said Eric Hunsader, an expert on—and frequent critic of—high speed markets at Nanex LLC.
People who get faster information will benefit, said Hunsader. "Everyone else loses, including the regulator who will have more information to process."
Melamed of Strike Technologies doesn't see it that way. "I personally believe technology helps any kind of sector or field," he said. "I do believe that what we're doing in this case benefits everybody, definitely not just high frequency trading firms, but the wide public."