Facebook and Microsoft announced their plan to build a more than 6400 kilometres long underwater data cable connecting the US with the EU.
The two companies didn’t disclose the cost of the project but they said that the new cable, called MAREA, will be the highest-capacity undersea cable yet across the Atlantic and it will help the two companies “meet the growing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook and their customers.”
The construction of the cable will commence in August 2016 and the infrastructure project is expected to finish in October 2017.
MAREA will run from a junction point at Northern Virginia, US to a data hub in Bilbao, Spain. From there it will spread to the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Microsoft and Facebook announced that the company responsible for manufacturing and installing the cable will be Telxius, Telefónica’s telecommunications infrastructure company.
Microsoft said in a post that the subsidiary of the Spanish telecom firm, “will serve as the operator of the system and sell capacity as part of their wholesale infrastructure business.”
According to British daily, The Guardian, Telefónica will sell access to the cable to other companies too, but Facebook and Microsoft will get premier access.
Alan Mauldin, research director with telecommunications research firm TeleGeography gave an interview with USA Today saying that MAREA will be able to transmit 160 terabytes per second. Moreover, Gartner analyst David Smith, also said that underwater cables are more robust and cheaper compared with satellites. “There a huge delay with satellites,” said Smith and added that “the cloud is under the ocean.”
Overall, this is not the first underwater cable as there are numerous cables connecting the US with the EU. In February 2016, Brazil’s Communications Minister André Figueiredo said at the World Mobile Conference in Barcelona, that Brazil is interesed in building an underwater data transfer cable connecting the country with the EU.
The cable would allow Brazil to have complete control of the internet traffic with Europe, as right now it depends on the US, which is its primary transfer node for internet traffic.