"Of course, the bribed operator could not simply be asked to transmit a few extra messages, since that would be immediately detected. Instead, the brothers instructed him to make a specific and highly unlikely series of errors in the transmissions to signal dramatic rises or falls in the Paris market. Normally, operators who had innocently made an error would encode a correction in a subsequent transmission. Both the error and its correction would then be duplicated from station to station. It was not until the message-plus-correction reached the end of the line that a telegraph official would step in to translate the transmission and remove the error. The Blancs were prepared: an accomplice who lived close to the last station on the line to Bordeaux took note of the "errors" before they were deleted and then relayed the news to the Blancs."
> No. Nobody was interested in lowering latency in the network
i think it was indeed an attempt to lower latency, but not within the context of "the" network. sending market information by semaphore is lower latency than sending a messenger.
Knowing before anyone else if the harvest was good or if the price of a commodity dropped was a surefire way to corner the market: telegraph operator bribing, insider trading, spreading false rumors, and much speculation ensued.
Plus ça change...
(although in the original story, the fake message causes a run on the stock exchange, thereby ruining his enemy. And the operator is bribed. Less romantic and much more prosaic than Terry Pratchett's version)