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Microsoft and Facebook to lay huge private undersea cable across the Atlantic

Microsoft and Facebook have teamed up to build an undersea cable across the Atlantic.

The Marea cable will lay between Virginia Beach on the west coast of the US and Bilbao in northern Spain.

The project to get the cable in position will commence in August and is expected to be completed by October 2017, according to a blog post by Microsoft.

The 4,100-mile cable will be operated and managed by Telxius, Telefónica’s telecoms infrastructure company, and has a planned capacity of 160Tbps.

Frank Rey, director of global network acquisitions at Microsoft, said in a statement: “This marks an important new step in building the next-generation infrastructure of the internet.”

Privately owned undersea cables are not uncommon, and many are put in place by telecoms companies or consortia. However, IT companies have generally been supporters of consortia rather than the prime movers, as appears to be the case here.

Google announced plans in 2014 to build a 60Tbps trans-Pacific cable system called Faster in conjunction with a number of telecoms providers to connect the west coast of the US to Japan. The project is due to be completed this year.

The goal of the new high-speed undersea cable for Microsoft and Facebook is to guarantee bandwidth for their growing cloud and internet-based services to customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“In order to better serve our customers and provide the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are continuing to invest in new and innovative ways to continuously upgrade the Microsoft Cloud and the global internet infrastructure,” said Rey.

“We’re seeing an ever-increasing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for Microsoft cloud services, including Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live, and Microsoft Azure.”

“This robust, global infrastructure will enable customers to more quickly and reliably store, manage, transmit and access their data in the Microsoft Cloud.”

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