Facebook and Microsoft have teamed up to work on an ambitious project that requires laying high-capacity Internet cable across the Atlantic. The two companies announced the plan on Thursday, saying that customers are increasingly demanding high-speed and reliable connections for their cloud and online services.
Highest capacity subsea cable
The cable, dubbed Marea, which is the Spanish word for “tide,” will have an estimated data capacity of a whopping 160 terabits per second, making it the highest capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Communications giant Telefonica’s telecommunications infrastructure company, Telxius, will be operating Marea.
By August, the work on putting down the cable will begin, and it is expected to be completed by October 2017. It will run 3,750 miles (6,030 km) between Virginia Beach, Virginia and Bilbao, Spain and then beyond to network hubs in Asia, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The companies stated that their cable will run south of the existing transatlantic cable systems that mostly come into New York and New Jersey.
“Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for our customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond,” the two companies said.
How do Facebook, Microsoft stand to benefit?
Facebook is the world’s largest social network with 1.6 billion users, and the cable will enable it to push vast amounts of information between its expanding network of data centers. The company owns the hugely popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp, and the cable will help it deal with the data linked to them. Also both video and virtual reality have attracted a lot of Facebook’s attention, but they suck a lot of bandwidth, suggesting that Facebook will need to invest in internet infrastructure.
Microsoft is hoping the cable will help it maintain and expand services for its cloud products, which include Microsoft Azure, Xbox Live, Bing and Office 365. The Redmond-based computer giant said the world is continually moving towards a future based on cloud computing, and it is committed to developing the unprecedented level of global infrastructure required to support ever faster and even more resilient connections to cloud services.
This is not the first time the tech firms have got directly involved with laying internet cables across oceans. In 2014, Google announced plans to run a cable between the West Coast of the U.S. and Japan, and a few years later, it revealed plans for a subsea cable between Florida and Brazil.