On May 26, Microsoft and Facebook officially announced an agreement to build a new, massive undersea cable across the Atlantic. Their project, called “MAREA”, aims to meet customer demands for high-speed, reliable connections for online services provided by Microsoft and Facebook.
The cable, whose construction will, according to Business Insider, begin in August and end in October 2017, will make this possible by transferring massive amounts of data faster, between hubs in northern Virginia, U.S. and Bilbao, Spain, respectively.
According to global tech news distributor PR Newswire, “MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic – eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. The new 6,600 km submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, Telefónica’s new telecommunications infrastructure company, will also be the first to connect the United States to southern Europe.”
Although the project relies officially on a collaboration between the two tech giants, it will be operated and managed by the telecommunications-infrastructure company Telxius. This is actually the case in many similar cases, since telecommunications companies are usually the ones building undersea infrastructure.
But as the data needs of tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others grow exponentially, they want to become actively involved and actually take control of the networks they rely on. Just two years ago, Google collaborated with five Asias telecommunications companies on the construction of a $300 million underwater cable network, connecting U.S. and Japan.
“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, Datacenter Strategy, Planning & Development, Microsoft Corp.
“The MAREA transatlantic cable we’re building with Facebook and Telxius will provide new, low-latency connectivity that will help meet the increasing demand for higher-speed capacity across the Atlantic. 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”, he added.
Najam Ahmad, Vice President of Network Engineering at Facebook, pointed out that “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.”
Finally, Rafael Arranz, Chief Operating Officer of Telxius Cable, declared that “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 inWestern Europe and new emerging routes in Northern Africa and other regions.”