Facebook Team With Microsoft To Complete 4,000-Mile Subsea Cable

Microsoft and Facebook have completed the Marea subsea cable—a joint initiative to upgrade global Internet infrastructures.
Stretching more than 4,000 miles from Virginia Beach, Va., to Bilboa, Spain, the Marea (Spanish for “tide”) connects customers in the US and Europe, as well as folks in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Located south of existing transatlantic systems, the “open” design (i.e. separate from other underwater cables) allows the link to “evolve with technology,” Suresh Kumar, corporate vice president of Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations, explained in a blog post.

“Just think of the many high-bandwidth applications and content you use today,” Kumar said, spotlighting Skype and Facebook Live, as well as streaming videos, movies, and music.

Crews began installing the cable last year (via RUN Studios)

“This ability to interoperate with many different kinds of networking equipment brings significant benefits including lower costs and easier equipment upgrades, leading to faster growth in bandwidth rates,” he added.

Finished in record time (less than two years), the 10.25-million-pound Marea (about the weight of 34 blue whales, according to Kumar) sits more than 17,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.

“A feat of engineering, collaboration, and innovation,” the cable can transmit up to 160 terabits of data per second, allowing it to simultaneously stream 71 million HD videos.

We see you, Microsoft and Facebook.

Final installation of the Marea cable on the shore (via RUN Studios)
“In a time when global economies are deepening their reliance on cloud technologies … we’re energized by the impact the Marea subsea cable will have on the advancement of cloud computing and digital services,” Kumar wrote.

In partnership with telecom infrastructure firm Telxius—operator of the new system—crews began installing the cable last year; the whole project was finished “nearly three times faster than is typical” the blog boasted.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and local Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner joined tech executives in Williamsburg last week to celebrate the cable’s completion; watch a video of the ceremony online.