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Friday, September 22, 2017

Facebook and Microsoft complete 160Tbit/s fibre link

By Nick Flaherty at

Facebook and Microsoft have completed a new trans-Atlantic undersea cable that will carry up to 160Tbit/s of data and are getting it ready for operation.

The new "MAREA" cable will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic with eight fibre pairs. The 6,600 km submarine cable system will be operated and managed by Telxius, Telefónica's new telecommunications infrastructure company, and connect the US to southern Europe, from the data hub of Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This route is south of other transatlantic cable systems, helping ensure more resilient and reliable connections for customers in the US and Europe, and Telxius will sell on capacity on the cable. 

A key change is that MAREA is designed to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment, reducing the cost. 

“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “Submarine cables in the Atlantic already carry 55 percent more data than trans-Pacific routes and 40 percent more data than between the U.S. and Latin America. There is no question that the demand for data flows across the Atlantic will continue to increase and Marea will provide a critical connection for the US, Spain, and beyond.”

"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, Datacentre Strategy, Planning & Development at Microsoft. "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."

"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," said Najam Ahmad, Vice President of Network Engineering at Facebook. "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."
"Working with Facebook and Microsoft in this project will reinforce Telxius' position as a worldwide leading infra company not only expanding on-net capabilities to Spain and the USA but also allowing us to capture market opportunities in Western Europe and new emerging routes in Northern Africa and other regions," said Rafael Arranz, Chief Operating Officer of Telxius Cable.

The cable was landed in Spain in June, and the physical link has been completed. HOwever the equipment still needs to be installed and commissioned, so the link will not be operational until early 2018.

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