Google to build $400m Blue-Raman subsea cable
Google is rumoured to be developing a $400 million subsea cable system connecting Italy to India.
According to Haaretz, Google is planning the new cable called Blue-Raman that will be comprised of two halves.
Its first half, referred to as Blue, will start in Genoa, Italy through the Mediterranean and cross Israel before landing in Aqaba, Jordan.
The second half referred to as the Raman part of cable, will connect from Mumbai, India across the Indian Ocean, overland across what they expect to be Saudi Arabia, before landing at Aqaba and connecting with the Blue portion of the system.
Though no official word has been given by Google, Blue-Raman is expected to reach Israel by 2022 and according to reports TIM’s Sparkle is partnering on the Blue part of the system, while Omantel will collaborate with Google on the Raman half.
The reason for the split in the cable build is for geopolitical reasons, ensuring that the Israeli part of the system does not cross Saudi Arabia.
Additionally, Haaretz says by avoiding Egypt the system reportedly bypasses the shallowness of the Suez Canal that risks causing damage to the cable.
“Egypt is the biggest single-point-of-failure in the entire world. With 15 cables crossing Egypt and another six or so waiting to be signed, almost a third of the entire world’s population is dependent on Egypt for its Internet access,” said Sunil Tagare of Open Cables.
Capacity reached out to industry analysts about the validity of these claims.
Matt Walker, Chief Analyst at MTN Consulting told us, “It’s true that the waters around Egypt have historically been the source of a high volume of cable breaks, causing havoc to traffic in the region and beyond. See this paper from 2014, for instance.
“I am not sure if it’s the “biggest single point of failure”, as public data is hard to come by on cable breaks, but it is in the top 3.”
Adding his views, Howard Kidorf, Managing Partner at Pioneer Consulting said that although there are shallow waters around Egypt this also exists “around nearly every cable landing in the world”.
“Egypt is no more or less “exposed” on this front, though the Gulf of Suez IS shallow and requires expensive installation.”
On the point that it is the biggest single-point-of-failure Kidorf says that this isn’t entirely true.
“The term “single point of failure” verges on a technical statement about the physical location where a single failure disrupts a system. Usually this means cables that land at the same point, depend on a single structure.
“Telecom Egypt have done a good job of providing diverse landing point on both coasts and diverse infrastructure to connect them. In this sense it is not a single point of failure.”
“What is correct is that Egypt (Telecom Egypt and their regulators) have a lot of political and commercial power due to the nation’s geographic location that they exploit advantageously.”
“Google’s planning of the Blue-Raman cable is the biggest news in the submarine cable industry since the start of the industry three decades ago. Not only will this cable provide the ultimate route diversity by going through Israel, it will also decrease the cost of Asia to Europe traffic by at least 50%,” continued Tagare.
Should the project go ahead, Blue-Raman will become the fifth cable system to connect Israel joining the likes of Lev and MedNautilus systems owned by Sparkle, Tamares North owned by Tamares Group, and Jonah owned by Bezeq.
The news follows a filing made by Google and Facebook, through its subsidiaries GU Holdings and Edge Cable Holdings USA, to activate sections of the PLCN subsea cable.
The two companies requested permission to activate the parts of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) between the US and the Philippines and Taiwan, leaving the sections connecting to Hong Kong dark.