April 2, 2020 / 8:38 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. SEC delays ruling on controversial NYSE high-speed data plan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it needs more time to decide whether to allow a plan by the New York Stock Exchange to offer a new high-speed wireless connection to the exchange that some brokers have blasted as anti-competitive.

FILE PHOTO: The final numbers of the day are displayed above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

An SEC decision had been expected by Friday, but the regulator moved the deadline to May 18 after it received at least six letters objecting to the proposal, according to an April 1 filing.

In a market where microseconds separate winners and losers, the new microwave service would arguably be the fastest way to access the Mahwah, New Jersey, data center, owned by NYSE parent Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE), where the exchange’s electronic trades are executed.

The microwave data would be transmitted from a recently built 160-foot pole on the data center property.

But several market-making firms, which rely on speedy market access to post bid and offer prices for others to trade against, said the NYSE’s plan was unfair because it gives exclusive use of the pole to an affiliate of ICE.

Market participants would have to pay an initial $10,000 per connection, and up to $45,000 per month, depending on the bandwidth needed, for the service, according to the NYSE filing.

Market-making firm IMC said in a letter to the SEC that the pole, due to its proximity to the data center, was akin to a modern-day exchange door leading to a trading floor.

“Unfortunately, it is a self-described exclusive access point with limited availability, thereby threatening to leave participants on the outside looking in or using a slower entrance,” said IMC, a minority investor in rival wireless data provider McKay Brothers LLC.

Other firms, including McKay Brothers, can and do offer wireless access to the NYSE, but from outside the data center’s property, about a quarter mile from the pole, adding fractions of seconds to transmission times.

“In our view, this is blatantly anti-competitive - it is no different in form and substance from the antiquated days of the NYSE selling real estate directly adjacent to the specialists on the floor to the highest bidder,” market maker Virtu Financial Inc said in a letter to the SEC.

Market maker XR Securities, financial data and news provider Bloomberg LLC, and investor advocacy group Healthy Markets also asked the SEC to reject the NYSE proposal.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Leslie Adler

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