Microsoft and Facebook lay subsea cable with whopping 160TB-per-second capacity

Tuesday, September 26th 2017

Microsoft and Facebook have laid a subsea cable capable of carrying 160 tetrabits of data per second, good enough to stream 71 million HD movies simultaneously. The high-capacity undersea cable stretches 4,000 miles running under the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia in the USA, to Bibao in Spain. It is te highest capacity subsea cable to cross the ocean. Called the Marea, the cable uses 8 pairs of fibre-optic cable to carry the enormous amount of data. As the demand for video content shoots up, the demand for data flow will become huge between Europe and USA. It has to cope with connectivity for 93% of mobile devices in the US and 83% of the Western Europe, by 2018 when it becomes operational.

Besides capable of supporting the streaming habits of a continent, Marea hopes to safeguard against events that could cause disruption, including natural disasters, like hurricane Sandy in 2012. Director of global network strategy, Cloud Infrastructure and Operations at Microsoft, Frank Rey, said the superstorm brought a realisation that another such event can disrupt vital connectivity. Frank Rey was sparked by the desire to reach the same goal to reinforce the transatlantic network as Facebook executives he ran into at industry events. So he decided to partner with Telxius, the telecoms company. Thus began the collaboration between Microsoft and Facebook. Work began in the project in 2016. The cable was charted through a course with depths on average reaching 11,000 feet, finding its way through earthquake zones, active undersea volcanoes and coral reefs.

The investment is good news for customers of both companies. Facebook continues to focus on video and even VR, along with offerings like WhatsApp, Instagram and Live. All of which will grow the demand for more data. Meanwhile, Microsoft is vigorously promoting its cloud services like Office 365, Azure and also Xbox Live which is turning to VR and 4K. All will contribute to a surge in data demand. Therefore, the president of Microsoft, Brian Smith sees Marea comeing at a critical time and undoubtedly that data flow demand will keep on rising across the Atlantic and this subsea cable would provide a critical connection.

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