Google to build new subsea cable between US and Argentina

10 Jun 2021316 Views

Image: © Mayumi.K.Photography/Stock.adobe.com

The Firmina subsea cable will run from the east coast of the US to Las Toninas in Argentina, with additional landings in Brazil and Uruguay.

A new high-speed subsea cable that aims to improve access to Google services for users in South America will start operations in 2023.

Google is building the Firmina subsea cable in conjunction with SubCom, which will design and install the cable.

It will run from the east coast of the US to Las Toninas in Argentina, with additional landings in Praia Grande in Brazil and Punta del Este in Uruguay.

SubCom will manufacture the cable at its Newington facility in New Hampshire over the next year and expects to begin laying the cable in summer 2022. SubCom said the subsea cable is expected to be ready for service by the end of 2023.

Submarine cables allow data to travel as pulses of light inside optical fibres within the cable, creating a signal that is usually amplified every 100km or so to avoid signal loss. This is a challenge for longer subsea cables.

However, in a blogpost, Google Cloud’s vice-president of global networking, Bikash Koley, said the new Firmina cable breaks this barrier.

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“Connecting North to South America, the cable will be the longest ever to feature single-end power feeding capability. Achieving this record-breaking, highly resilient design is accomplished by supplying the cable with a voltage 20pc higher than with previous systems.”

SubCom’s CEO, David Coughlan, said the partnership with Google will “supply a high-speed, high-capacity undersea cable system that will encompass some of the most advanced transmission technologies in the world”.

The cable is named after Maria Firmina dos Reis, a Brazilian author. Koley said Google sought to honour a luminary who worked to advance human understanding and social justice.

“With this cable, we’re thrilled to draw attention to her pioneering work and spirit,” he said.

Including Firmina, Google has investments in 16 subsea cables, including the Grace Hopper cable connecting the UK, US and Spain.

The company is also working with fellow tech giant Facebook on two new subsea cables that will connect North America and south-east Asia.

This came after another Google-Facebook subsea cable hit a wall. Plans for the Pacific Light Cable Network were cut late last year due concerns from the US government about direct communications links between the US and Hong Kong.

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com