Google unveils new transatlantic undersea web cable

Google has announced it is building a new undersea web cable connecting the United States, United Kingdom and Spain.

Once constructed, the private web cable will become the fifth in Google’s expanding roster – currently made up of Curie, Dunant, Equiano and Junior – designed to improve the resilience of networks that prop up the company’s consumer and enterprise products.

The new undersea web cable has been named Grace Hopper, after the American computer scientist responsible for programming language COBOL, and will be the first laid between the US and UK since 2003.

The project also marks Google’s first investment in a submarine cable docking in Spain and will serve to knit the upcoming Google Cloud region in Madrid with the company’s wider global infrastructure.

Google undersea web cable

Around 380 undersea cables carry over 99.5% of all transoceanic data today, running for 750,000 miles across the ocean floor. These fiber optic wires connect the massive data centers that support cloud behemoths such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and – in this case – Google Cloud

In response to ever-increasing capacity requirements, the world’s technology giants have taken it upon themselves to fund and manage many undersea cabling projects, as shown by Google’s latest endeavor.

“Private subsea cables allow us to plan effectively for the future capacity needs of our customers and users around the world, and add a layer of security beyond what’s available over the public internet,” explained the company.

Grace Hopper will boast a whopping 16 fiber pairs – more than any cable in use today. For context, the current fastest cable (jointly owned by Microsoft and Facebook) has eight fibre pairs and achieved record speeds of 26.2Tb per second last year.

Google’s new cable will also harness new optical fibre switching techniques to increase reliability, allowing the company to “better move traffic around outages.” The undersea web cable will be the first of its kind to use the technology, which Google says it is looking forward to integrating into other systems going forward.

The project is set to be completed by 2022 but, as Google knows all too well from its experience with the Pacific Light Cable Network, international projects of this scale have a habit of encountering obstacles.

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