Microsoft has announced a major infrastructure collaboration with Facebook, along with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica, to create the highest-capacity submarine cable system ever to be installed across the Atlantic Ocean.
Microsoft's Frank Rey (Director, Global Network Acquisition, Cloud Infrastructure and Operations) said today that it features eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. He added that the state-of-the-art subsea cable, known as MAREA, is intended to "meet the growing customer demand for high-speed reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook and their customers."
MAREA will be positioned further south than other transatlantic cables running from the United States, extending from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bilbao, Spain. Existing transatlantic cable systems are generally routed to New York/New Jersey on the US side, and this will be the first such system to connect the States with southern Europe, providing a convenient hub via which to route traffic to and from other parts of Europe, along with Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Rey said that MAREA is designed "to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment". Referring to it as an "open" design, he said that this will ensure "lower costs and easier equipment upgrades which leads to faster growth in bandwidth rates since the system can evolve at the pace of optical technology innovation."
Microsoft and Facebook are working with Telefónica's telecoms infrastructure subsidiary Telxius, which has extensive experience in submarine cables, and will operate the system, as well as selling capacity on behalf of the other two companies. Construction of the cable will begin this August, and is expected to be completed by October 2017.