Google unveils plans for private transatlantic subsea cable

18 Jul 2018

Image: Korn Srirawan/Shutterstock

Subsea cable projects are booming around the world, and Google is becoming a major player in the space.

Subsea cables are powering much of the globe’s connectivity, and the uptick in building projects looks set to continue for the next few years. Firms such as Microsoft, Facebook and SoftBank have made significant investments in recent times and they are far from the only ones.

Tech giant Google yesterday (17 July) announced that it is building a second private subsea cable from Virginia Beach in the US to the French Atlantic coast. The cable, called Dunant, is the first private transatlantic cable manufactured by a non-telecoms company and is expected to be available in late 2020.

Google to add capacity

Google’s cloud arm made the announcement of the new cable, which will add network capacity across the Atlantic, supplementing one of the busiest internet routes in the world as well as supporting the growth of Google Cloud.

The company is working with TE SubCom to design, manufacture and lay the Dunant cable.

It is named after Henri Dunant, the winner of the first Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Red Cross. The name was decided on in keeping with Google’s tradition of paying tribute to innovators ­– at the beginning of the year, it announced it would be building a cable named after Marie Curie. The Curie cable, which will be the first to land in Chile in close to two decades, will be the country’s single largest data pipe. It will also be the first private intercontinental cable built by a non-telecoms company.

A myriad of subsea projects

Google has now invested in 13 different subsea projects dating back 10 years, but the Dunant cable is only its second wholly private investment.

The company’s cloud business depends on high-quality infrastructure, and a far-reaching network of subsea cables will help it achieve its goals.

World map showing Google's existing subsea investments. Image: Google Cloud

World map showing Google’s existing subsea investments. Image: Google Cloud

Jayne Stowell, strategic negotiator of global infrastructure at Google, said: “Cables are often built to serve a very specific route. When we build privately, we can choose this route based on what will provide the lowest latency for the largest segment of customers.

“In this case, we wanted connectivity across the Atlantic that was close to certain data centres, but the reasons could also include the ability to land in certain countries, or to connect two places that were previously underserved, such as was the case with Curie.” She also noted the role of subsea projects in future capacity planning and the guarantee of bandwidth during the cable’s lifespan.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects