Microsoft, Facebook to lay private high-speed cable underwater

The subsea cable will stretch from the US to Spain to meet customer demand for reliable online services

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Microsoft, Facebook to lay private high-speed cable underwater MAREA will stretch across 6,600km from northern Virginia in the US to Bilbao in Spain, and then beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia (Microsoft )
By  Aasha Bodhani Published  May 29, 2016

Microsoft and Facebook have announced they plan to build a subsea cable through the Atlantic Ocean to speed up global Internet services.

The project, dubbed MAREA which is Spanish for "tide", will stretch across 6,600km from northern Virginia in the US to Bilbao in Spain, and then beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The cable, which will feature eight fibre pairs and an initial design capacity of 160Tbps, aims to meet customer demand for high-speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for both Microsoft and Facebook customers.

"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 both the Microsoft Cloud and the global Internet infrastructure," said Frank Rey, director, global network acquisition, Microsoft Corp. "This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the Internet."

The construction will be operated and managed by Telefonica SA's TEF.MC telecoms infrastructure unit Telxius. The Spanish telecom provider intends to sell access to the cable to other companies, however Microsoft and Facebook will take top priority and will gain private access to quick data transfers.

Microsoft and Facebook designed MAREA to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment. This new "open" design aims to provide significant benefits for customers: 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.

Both companies have cleared conditions to go "Contract-in-Force" with the subsea cable and construction will commence in August 2016 with completion expected to be by October 2017.

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