Facebook + Microsoft = 160-terabits-per-second cable 4,100 miles across the Atlantic

The successful completion of the highest capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean has been announced by Facebook, Microsoft, and the telecoms infrastructure company Telxius. The cable has been said to be capable of transmitting 160 terabits of data per second, the equivalent of streaming 71 million HD videos at the same time, and 16 million times faster than an average home internet connection, Microsoft claims. The cable will commence use by early 2018.

The project was named Marea, which is Spanish rendition for “tide,” the 4,000 mile long subsea cable lies 17,000 feet below the ocean surface and stretches from Virginia Beach, Virginia and the city of Bilbao in Spain. Marea also makes a route south of most existing transatlantic cables. Because of this, Microsoft says the cable will provide resiliency for those living in the US and Europe by safeguarding against natural disasters or other major events that might cause disruptions to connections like those witnessed during Hurricane Sandy. More importantly to Microsoft and Facebook: both companies have large data center operations in Virginia.

Microsoft said in a blog post that the project was completed nearly three times faster than usual, in under two years. It is also stated that Marea’s cables are an “open” design, which will allow it to evolve as technology advances, and as the population of internet users around the world continue to grow. The Marea cable also provides a path to network hubs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where the next billion internet users are anticipated to come from.

On increasing rate, Tech companies are moving into the infrastructure space, funding new cables themselves, rather than joining telecom consortiums which operate undersea cables already. Google has also invested in two cables that run from the US to Japan, South America, and other countries in Asia. With the Marea cable, Facebook and Microsoft’s investment gives them more control over the vast amounts of data they need to move quickly around the world. Both companies will benefit from improvements in cloud services for products like Facebook’s Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp and Microsoft’s Office 365, Azure, and Xbox Live.


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