Microsoft, Facebook to lay massive undersea cable across Atlantic


On Thursday, Facebook and Microsoft announced a joint agreement for the construction of a new underwater cable across the Atlantic. Codenamed “MAREA”, the cable will be instrumental in meeting the  growing demand for high-speed connectivity.

According to the news release, the two companies are working together on this project “to accelerate the development of the next-generation of Internet infrastructure and support the explosion of data consumption and rapid growth of their respective cloud and online services.”

The construction of the cables is scheduled to start in August, with the deadline for completion in October 2017. MAREA is going to be the highest capacity cable to ever cross the Atlantic with eight fiber pairs and an estimated 160Tbps.

The design and production of the cable are jointly managed by Facebook and Microsoft, however, the contract for operation and management lies with Telefonica’s (VIV) Telxius.

“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,” said Christian Belady of Microsoft.

“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, Facebook’s Vice President of Network Engineering.

While the whole partnership between the two companies is not a surprise, it still is a groundbreaking move as both firms have heavily invested in Cloud Computing with their data centers and the network spanning across the globe.

It is quite common for the companies to take the assistance of telecommunications companies to manage underwater cables and other networking gear, even with the involvement of Telxius in the project, it is quite apparent that Facebook and Microsoft are willing to have more control over the MAREA cable.