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Microsoft subsea cable hits latest milestone


Microsoft subsea cable hits latest milestone

Three tech giants have hit the latest target in their subsea cable link project that is said to be 16 million times faster than regular broadband.

Microsoft, Telefonica and Facebook are the three corporations behind the subsea cable, which is known as Marea, the Spanish for ‘tide’. The trio says that the cable has the capacity to stream up to 71 million HD videos simultaneously.

The latest milestone comes as the transatlantic cable has now been successfully installed after construction commenced back in August 2016. Telxius, a subsidiary of Telefonica, was tasked with laying the cable, which is 4,000 miles (6,600km) in length and stretches across the Atlantic Ocean, connecting Virginia Beach, Virginia, US with Bilbao in northern Spain.

Microsoft has already stated that the cable can reach speeds of 160 terabits per second, and makes it 16 million times faster than a regular home broadband connection. It contains eight sets of fibre optic threads that have been wrapped in copper.

Telxius will be the company that operates the cable once it goes live. It will offer both Microsoft and Facebook a larger capacity globally for their data services, as well as an improved resilience thanks to having different landing points to most networks, which in the US are around New Jersey and New York.

The Marea cable continues with the trend of the world’s largest tech firms investing in their own multimillion dollar, high-capacity subsea cables as opposed to leasing them from other operators. For example, Google has a 60 terabit-per-second cable between the US and Japan spanning 5,600 miles (9,000km).

Microsoft has also said that Marea has the highest-capacity connection of all current transatlantic subsea cables, of which there are over a dozen. Furthermore, the Marea cable also connects to Sopelana, which links up with other fibre networks that connect to major European hubs, including London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Having the Marea cable connected to Bilboa also gives Microsoft scope for the future, as the tech giant also pointed out that the Spanish city offers a convenient path to other hubs located in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The cable will help the firm to improve its cloud services, including Office 365, Xbox Live, Azure and Skype. Social networking phenomenon, Facebook has said that the cable will help the company to improve its increasingly data-intensive services that are provided through various platforms including Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and the main Facebook site.

According to Microsoft, the Marea cable is set to become fully operational in the early months of 2018.

Alan Littler

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