Google LLC today announced plans for a new subsea internet cable that will enable data to cross the Atlantic faster and advance the search giant’s cloud expansion roadmap.
The cable is to be named after computer pioneer Grace Hopper. Bikash Koley, the vice president of global networking at Google, hailed the project as a “significant upgrade” to the internet infrastructure connecting the U.S. with Europe in a blog post today.
The Grace Hopper cable will extend from New York to the British resort town of Bude and the city of Bilbao in northern Spain. One of the first new internet cables in more than 15 years that’s being built to connect the U.S. with the U.K., it will allow data to move faster by adding 16 fiber pairs’ worth of networking capacity. A fiber pair is a pair of integrated fiber optic cables.
The landing point in Bilbao will in turn enable faster connectivity to continental Europe. It will help connect the cloud data center Google is currently building in Madrid to the rest of its global infrastructure.
With its 16 fiber pairs, the Grace Hopper cable will likely be one of the most sophisticated in the world. For perspective, Google last year announced plans for another transatlantic internet cable with 12 fiber pairs that at the time was expected to set a new bandwidth record. Most subsea internet projects use six or eight pairs.
That previous transatlantic cable announced last year is being deployed for Google by Eatontown, New Jersey-based contractor SubCom LLC, the same company the search giant has selected to build the Grace Hopper cable. This time, Google and SubCom will add in new switching technology to reduce the risk of internet disruptions.
“Grace Hopper will incorporate novel optical fiber switching that allows for increased reliability in global communications, enabling us to better move traffic around outages,” Koley wrote in the blog post. “Google and SubCom engineers collaborated on incorporating this innovative switching architecture into the system. Grace Hopper is the world’s first submarine cable to use this technology, and we look forward to deploying the technology on other systems in the future.”
The switching technology isn’t the first innovation to have emerged from Google’s work with Subcom. Previously, they operationalized a networking technique called space-division multiplexing system to help increase the efficiency of internet cables. The technique, which Google has already started using in projects, reduces the amount of optical equipment needed to manage signals.
Work on the Grace Hopper cable is expected to be completed in 2022. It’s the fourth cable that Google is financing entirely on its own, as opposed to teaming up with other investors as in some of its earlier projects.
The search giant was estimated to partially or fully own more than 8.4% of the world’s subsea internet infrastructure in 2018. Since then, Google has grown its footprint by completing a 6,500-mile link connecting the United States with Chile.
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