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Facebook and Google join forces to launch underwater internet cable network


Facebook and Google join forces to launch underwater internet cable network

Two of the world’s largest tech companies are set to combine in an effort to create an underwater network that will provide superfast internet speeds and connect the USA with Hong Kong.

Internet giants Facebook and Google have joined TE SubCom and Pacific Light Data Communication in laying the world’s first cable that will directly connect Hong Kong with Los Angeles. The plans will see Tseung Kwan O connected with Manhattan Beach in the Californian city, and also the home state of Facebook and Google. The network is known as the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).

All parties involved in the project expect the cable to be fitted and fully operational by the end of May 2018. The cable will have 7,953 miles (12,800km) of fibre optics and will offer a massive internet speed capacity of 120 terabits a second. As a result of these speeds, this network will become the “highest-capacity trans-Pacific” cable currently in existence – a record held by Google and its Faster cable.

Once up and running, the cable will see the amount and speed of internet increase between the two connected nations. According to Google’s director of networking infrastructure, this will be enough for Hong Kong to make 80 million simultaneous video conference calls in HD with Los Angeles.

To ensure the cable network has the high capacity speeds it promises to deliver, it will use technology provided by TE SubCom, which will be able to double the bandwidth per fibre and make the PCLN cable an ultrahigh-capacity network.

The PCLN cable will become the latest in a series of deep sea cable networks that are designed to provide internet connectivity to the four corners of the globe. According to data from TeleGeography, there are 359 undersea cable systems in existence worldwide, although some of them are not active yet. Most of these cables help to connect major internet hubs such as the Los Angeles Internet Exchange and the London Internet Exchange.

The longest cable currently in existence is the SEA-ME-WE 3, cable which connects Europe to Asia and Australia. This particular cable is 39,000km (24233.5 miles) in length.

Underwater cables are becoming more popular among the world’s leading internet companies. The purpose of them is to carry user data from one network to another at fast speeds. Google currently has ownership of six cables of this type, with the Faster cable costing the company $300m (£222m) to create. This cable connects the US West Coast with Japan with speeds of 60 terabits a second.

Providing remote areas of the world with internet connectivity has long been an objective of both Facebook and Google, as they each planned to launch hot air balloons and drones into the stratosphere to provide connections to countries with little or no connectivity.

Alan Littler

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