Roger, can you explain the significance of the new microwave route that has gone live?
The completion of this new route is a great achievement and we are very proud that this was possible despite Covid-19 turmoil, especially as the link spans across five European countries. By further expanding the European microwave network of SIX with the new connection between London and Stockholm, the Swiss Stock Exchange and Nasdaq aim to making markets more efficient and bringing faster and more secure transactions to customers as well as fostering equal access to the most modern market data transmission technology for the benefit of all market participants.

What is the cooperation with Nasdaq about, and who else is involved?
As announced in April, the partnership between SIX and Nasdaq is operated through the jointly owned Swedish company RF Nordic Express AB (“RFNE”). SIX is invested in RFNE through its Zurich-based subsidiary 12H AG (“12H”), of which it acquired a majority stake earlier this year. Since its establishment, RFNE leveraged the microwave know-how of 12H and built the new low latency connection between London and Stockholm. 12H’s experience in building and operating such networks is a key puzzle piece in the democratized low latency access to the Swiss Stock Exchange. Before introducing the new route, our microwave network was already the largest in Europe, offering our trading participants fair and equal access to low-latency market data transmission from Zurich to London, Frankfurt and Milan as well as from Milan to Frankfurt and London.

What is the strategic rationale to invest in the expansion of the microwave network?
At the Swiss Stock Exchange, we have a long history of not only ensuring the stability and availability of our trading infrastructure, but also of making the most modern technology accessible to all our participants by partnering with leading technology providers. To actively shape the future of trading, we aim to offer the most advanced technology within our unique market structure. This creates the best possible trading conditions in Swiss securities and strengthens our position as their reference market. In addition, it is a testament to the innovative nature of the Swiss Stock Exchange. Microwave technology enables the fastest transmission of market data between trading centers. This allows Swiss Stock Exchange trading participants to identify price movements and implement investment decisions as quickly as possible. As a result, risks can be managed more efficiently which benefits participants and end investors alike. It also improves liquidity and tightens spreads, which results in better execution for everybody trading Swiss securities on the Swiss Stock Exchange.

And how does this work, from a technical and operational perspective?
Our microwave infrastructure across Europe allows clients to send data through the air instead of using fiber optic cable. As a result, signals are travelling at the speed of light and relayed in the most direct way possible. This speed advantage is coupled with a high level of availability and reliability. For this purpose point-to-point connections between the matching engines of exchanges are designed, built and operated. Along the ideal path the data signals are reinforced through dishes on towers. However, every gain comes with a downside which in this case is capacity, meaning the limited amount of bandwidth available per route.

What are the next steps for the microwave network this year and beyond?
As mentioned before, we intend to further grow the network and further democratize the low latency access to exchanges in a fair and equal manner. For this purpose, we are looking to expand our European footprint and offer the services to other exchanges and market participants. This also includes a plan how BME, the Spanish market infrastructure group acquired by SIX, will be connected to our microwave network. We’ll also continue improving routes and selecting the best available technology to achieve market leading low latencies and highest availability. In 2020, this includes significant upgrades to our route London-Zurich to be ready in case Brexit will result in Swiss equities also being traded on London-based MTFs again.