Microsoft, Facebook Building Huge Internet Cable Across the Atlantic

By Features PCmag

Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to lay a massive Internet cable across the Atlantic Ocean, the companies announced Thursday.

Continue Reading Below

Dubbed MAREA, the cable will "help meet the growing customer demand for high-speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook, and their customers," Frank Rey, director of Microsoft's Global Network Acquisition group, wrote in a blog post. It will, for instance, allow for "faster and even more resilient connections" to Microsoft's cloud services like Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live, and Bing.

All said and done, MAREA will be "the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic," featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated capacity of 160Tbps (yes, Terabits per second). It will stretch 4,101 miles, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bilbao, Spain, and beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. That route is south of existing transatlantic cable systems, most of which are located in New York and New Jersey.

"Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for our customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond," Rey wrote.

Construction is slated to kick off this August and the companies expect to complete the project by October 2017. Microsoft and Facebook are building MAREA with the help of Telxius, Telefónica's telecommunications infrastructure company, which will serve as operator of the new system and sell capacity as part of its wholesale infrastructure business. There's no word as to how much Microsoft and Facebook are shelling out to make this a reality.

Continue Reading Below

"This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the Internet," Rey said in a statement.

The announcement comes after Microsoft a year ago invested in underwater cables to connect its North American data center to Ireland and the UK. Google has also invested in undersea cables; the Web giant in 2014 teamed with five Asian firms to build and operate a Trans-Pacific cable system, dubbed Faster.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.