Microsoft, Facebook to build 6,600 km subsea cable for faster internet

San Francisco: Microsoft and Facebook have joined hands to build a new, state-of-the-art subsea cable across the Atlantic Ocean that will help meet the growing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook and their customers.

The 6,600 km MAREA cable will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic — eight fibre pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160 Tbps, the companies said in a statement on Friday.

The construction of the cable will commence in August 2016 and is expected to be completed in October 2017.

“As the world is increasingly moving toward a future based on cloud computing, Microsoft continues to invest in our cloud infrastructure to meet current and future growing global demand for our more than 200 cloud services, including Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and the Microsoft Azure platform,” explained Christian Belady, general manager, datacenter strategy, planning and development, Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft and Facebook are collaborating on this system to accelerate the development of the next-generation of internet infrastructure and support the explosion of data consumption and rapid growth of their respective cloud and online services.

The submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, Telefonica’s new telecommunications infrastructure company, will also be the first to connect the US to southern Europe — from the data hub of Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Telxius will serve as the operator of the system and sell capacity as part of their wholesale infrastructure business.

This route is south of other transatlantic cable systems, thereby helping ensure more resilient and reliable connections for customers in the US, Europe and beyond.

The team has designed MAREA to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment.

This new “open” design brings significant benefits for customers: lower costs and easier equipment upgrades which leads to faster growth in bandwidth rates since the system can evolve at the pace of optical technology innovation.

“The MAREA transatlantic cable we’re building with Facebook and Telxius will provide new, low-latency connectivity that will help meet the increasing demand for higher-speed capacity across the Atlantic. By building the cable along this new southern route, we will also increase the resiliency of our global network, helping ensure even greater reliability for our customers,” Belady noted.

According to Najam Ahmad, vice president of network engineering at Facebook, the company wants to make it possible for people to have deep connections and shared experiences with the people who matter to them most – anywhere in the world, and at any time.

“We’re always evaluating new technologies and systems in order to provide the best connectivity possible. By creating a vendor-agnostic design with Microsoft and Telxius, we can choose the hardware and software that best serves the system and ultimately increase the pace of innovation,” Ahmad added.