Google confirms Blue and Raman with Sparkle on board

30 July 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Google has confirmed two subsea cable projects linking the Middle East with southern Europe and Asia, are to be built and delivered in collaboration with Sparkle.

News of the cable broke last year when Israel's Haaretz reported that the system would be divided into two parts "due to geopolitics". It also reported a US$400 million price tag, however, these details are not cited in the official announcements from either Google or Sparkle.

What they have said is that each cable will be equipped with 16 fibre pairs and, "embracing the innovative concepts of open cable" will support multiple fibre tenants and open landing stations, enabling competitive access to termination points.

“We are extremely proud to bring our collaboration with Google to the next level with this cutting-edge intercontinental infrastructure”, said Elisabetta Romano (pictured), CEO of Sparkle, which laid the first Transatlantic cable to South America back in 1925.

The Blue Submarine Cable System will connect Italy, France, Greece, and Israel, while the Raman Submarine Cable System will connect Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman and India.

As such, Sparkle's earlier announced BlueMed submarine cable will form part of the Blue System.

BlueMed was originally planned to use a combination of both direct data centre connectivity and an open cable landing station (CLS) approach, with Sparkle’s open CLS in Genoa intended to support the landing facilities.

This latest announcement states that "within the Blue System, BlueMed is Sparkle’s own private domain sharing its wet components with four additional fibre pairs and an initial design capacity of more than 25Tbps per fibre pair".

It is extended up to Aqaba, Jordan, with additional private branches into Corsica, France; Chania, Crete; Golfo Aranci in Sardinia and Rome in Italy; and then Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Cyprus and more in the future.

Further, Sparkle’s Genoa Open Landing Platform is set to become the alternative priority access for other upcoming submarine cables looking for a diversified entry to Europe, backhauled to Milan and facilitating a new reference gateway between Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

According to Google's statement other consortium members may plan additional landings and connect the two systems through terrestrial network assets.

Romano added: “With Blue and Raman Submarine Cable Systems, Sparkle boosts its capabilities in the strategic routes between Asia, Middle East and Europe and the enhanced BlueMed strengthens our presence in the greater Mediterranean area."

Blue and Raman are expected to be ready for service in 2024, with the Tyrrhenian part of BlueMed planned to be operational in 2022.

As always, there's a story behind Google's name choice.

The Raman cable is named for Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, an Indian physicist who won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics—the first Asian to receive that honour in science

His work focused on light scattering and today, the Raman effect is a foundational principle in the field of optics that enables any underwater network cable.

Together, the two new cables take Google's project count in the submarine space to 18, following earlier confirmation of such cables projects as Grace Hopper, Equiano, Curie and Bifrost.

In its latest investment map, published in June, TeleGeography identified more than US$8 billion in new subsea cable investments globally over the next three years.