Facebook and Microsoft to lay a huge Internet cable across Atlantic

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By Larry Banks

Microsoft and Facebook have announced a deal to lay the fastest ever Internet cable to cross the Atlantic Ocean, starting with hubs to connect Northern Virginia to Bilbao in Spain.

The cable, dubbed MAREA, meaning tide in Spanish, will be able to send data at 160 terabits per second, and will stretch for over 4,100 miles of ocean in an underwater cable. The two companies hired Telxius, an infrastructure company owned by Telefónica, to manage MAREA and expand hubs between Europe and Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The cable will start production in August with a completion date of October 2017.

“In order to better serve our customers and provide the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are continuing to invest in new and innovative ways to continuously upgrade both the Microsoft Cloud and the global internet infrastructure”, said Frank Rey, Microsoft’s director of global network acquisition, adding “This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the internet”.

Even with Telxius onboard, this new operation marks a turning point for tech companies, which have in the past joined telecom consortiums that already operate undersea cables rather than financing new cables outright.

The aim of MAREA is to help Facebook and Microsoft move more data around the world, to their networks of data centres, and higher speeds and more reliably. Both firms now have huge cloud computing operations, with Facebook hosting content for more than 1.65 billion users and Microsoft managing services such as Bing, Azure, Xbox Live and Office 365.

Tech firms have been making investments in networking infrastructure for many years, from server farms and data centres to underwater operations. The new deal involves only Facebook and Microsoft, but Google has also invested in several undersea cables between the US and Japan, South America, and parts of Asia.

Microsoft says the new project provides interoperability with other networking gear. “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 firm said in a statement.

SOURCE: The Verge.

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