Tech giants to build 160Tbps transatlantic cable

31 May 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe

Tech giants Microsoft and Facebook have teamed up to build a 6,600km submarine cable system the firms claim “will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic” with speeds of 160Tbps.

MAREAThe MAREA cable, which will stretch from Virginia Beach in the US to Bilbao, Spain, and extend to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, will help meet the growing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for the firms.

Teléfonica subsidiary Telxius will operate and manage MAREA, which will feature eight fibre pairs with an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. Telxius will also be tasked with selling off capacity of the cable to other companies interested in high-speed connections as part of their wholesale infrastructure business.

MAREA has been designed to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment and the companies say the new “open” design will reduce costs, make upgrades easier and importantly lead to faster growth in bandwidth rates.

Christian Belady"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,” said Christian Belady, general manager of Microsoft data centre strategy, planning and development.

“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."

Microsoft has invested more than $15 billion in building a resilient cloud infrastructure and cloud services that are highly available and highly secure while lowering overall costs.

Najam Ahmad - FacebookFacebook’s vice president of network engineering, Najam Ahmad, added: "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. We want to do more of these projects in this manner — allowing us to move fast with more collaboration. We think this is how most subsea cable systems will be built in the future."

Construction is due to begin in August 2016, with work expected to complete in October 2017.