Facebook and Microsoft reported an association today to lay the highest-capacity subsea internet cable to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean, beginning with hubs connecting Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain. The cable, called “MAREA” after the Spanish word for “tide” will be capable of 160 terabits per second of bandwidth and will stretch more than 4,100 miles of sea in a submarine cable system. The two organizations have hired Telxius, the infrastructure organization owned by worldwide communications giant Telefónica, to manage MAREA and grow network hubs from Europe to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Construction is slated to begin in August of this year with a goal of October 2017 to finish the cable. Frank Rey, Microsoft’s chief of global network acquisition, said:

With a specific end goal to better serve our clients and give the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are keeping on investing resources into new and imaginative approaches to continuously upgrade both the Microsoft Cloud and the worldwide internet infrastructure. This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the internet.

The cable called “MAREA” after the Spanish word for “tide”

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

Ultimate objective here is to help both Facebook and Microsoft move information around the globe to their vast and extending networks of data centers at higher velocities using more reliable hardware. Both organizations now keep up huge cloud-computing operations, with Facebook hosting the output of 1.65 billion users and Microsoft dealing with a strong suite of online services including Azure, Bing, Xbox Live, and Office 365. To keep extending, these sorts of organizations are progressively moving into the infrastructure business, whether that be Amazon with its transportation network or Facebook and Microsoft with data operations to reach other parts of the globe.

Investing in subsea cables is not a new trend. Tech organizations have been making sizable investments in worldwide networking infrastructure for a considerable length of time, beginning with server farms and data centers and forward to extensive scale underwater operations. Although this new deal includes just Facebook and Microsoft, Google has invested in two undersea cables that stretch from the US to Japan, South America, and other parts of Asia.

Microsoft says its new project with Facebook gives interoperability with other networking equipment. The organization says:

This new “open” design brings significant benefits for clients: lower costs and easier equipment upgrades which leads to speedier growth in data transmission rates since the system can advance at the pace of optical technology advancement.


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