Microsoft, Facebook build transatlantic cable

Microsoft and Facebook have agreed to build the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic — from Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain.

“The new ‘MAREA’ cable will help meet the growing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook and their customers,” said the companies in a statement.

Construction of the 6,600 km cable will start in August 2016 with completion expected in October 2017.

“Microsoft and Facebook are collaborating on this system to accelerate the development of the next-generation of Internet infrastructure and support the explosion of data consumption and rapid growth of their respective cloud and online services,” the firms added.

“MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic – eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps.

“The new 6,600 km submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, Telefónica’s new telecommunications infrastructure company, will also be the first to connect the United States to southern Europe, from the data hub of Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then to network hubs in EuropeAfrica, the Middle East and Asia.”

The companies said this route is south of other transatlantic cable systems, thereby helping ensure more resilient and reliable connections for customers in the United StatesEurope and beyond.

Microsoft and Facebook designed MAREA to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment.

“As the world is increasingly moving toward a future based on cloud computing, Microsoft continues to invest in our cloud infrastructure to meet current and future growing global demand for our more than 200 cloud services, including Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and the Microsoft Azure platform,” said Christian Belady, General Manager, Datacenter Strategy, Planning & Development, Microsoft Corp.

“The MAREA transatlantic cable we’re building with Facebook and Telxius will provide new, low-latency connectivity that will help meet the increasing demand for higher-speed capacity across the Atlantic.

“By building the cable along this new southern route, we will also increase the resiliency of our global network, helping ensure even greater reliability for our customers.”

Najam Ahmad, Vice President of Network Engineering at Facebook, said: “Facebook wants to make it possible for people to have deep connections and shared experiences with the people who matter to them most — anywhere in the world, and at any time.

“We’re always evaluating new technologies and systems in order to provide the best connectivity possible.

“By creating a vendor-agnostic design with Microsoft and Telxius, we can choose the hardware and software that best serves the system and ultimately increase the pace of innovation.

“We want to do more of these projects in this manner — allowing us to move fast with more collaboration. We think this is how most subsea cable systems will be built in the future.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.