Microsoft recently announced the completion of their Marea subsea cable project, which connects Virginia and Spain. This joint project between Microsoft, Facebook, and Telxius will help to meet the growing demand for internet and cloud services overseas, as it is the most technologically advanced subsea cable to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
This announcement caused us to reflect on the importance of subsea cables and how they have evolved since the first one was installed in 1866. Our CEO, Mike Murphy, was asked to speak about the first subsea cable for CBS This Morning on their feature for the 150th anniversary of the first transatlantic cable in 2016. Since the first transatlantic cable, over 30 cables have been laid across the Atlantic, all serving specific purposes for different industries and verticals.
What about the others?
There are essentially two types of transatlantic cables for companies to utilize. One type is called TAT cables, which are cables that are joint ventures between a number of different telecom companies. Most of these are between Europe and the U.S., although there are also “CANTAT” cables which terminate in Canada. Private cable routes, on the other hand, are routes that are owned by only one telecom company. While the Marea cable is a collaboration between 3 different companies, it is still considered a private route.
As the world evolves and races to become fully connected, the telecom industry must also continue to innovate these subsea cables. The specific aim of the new Marea cable is for it to be “open,” meaning as technology puts a bigger strain on bandwidth and more users flood the network, the cable will be able to meet the demand and always be able to maintain the performance level necessary. This will be a crucial consideration for all ongoing subsea projects, as the demand for connectivity – both in terms of number of users and performance – will only grow from here. As companies all over the world are moving to the cloud, powerful cables such as these will make for improvements in cloud computing. According to Microsoft’s announcement, “cross-border internet traffic is expected to increase eightfold by 2025”, and internet users in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia will account for a billion of the population who could utilize the connection made by this cable.
There are a number of noteworthy subsea cable projects in the works that are going to be impactful in connecting new countries and continents.
- Crosslake Fibre is building a new submarine cable through Lake Ontario to connect Buffalo, New York with Toronto, Canada.
- Africa and South America recently launched construction on the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), a cable system that will connect the countries of Angola and Brazil with the hopes of reducing 80% of the current latency between the two countries.
- Deep Blue Cable has announced a plan to construct a subsea fiber-optic cable network that will connect the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Turks & Caicos Islands to the Gulf Coast of Florida.
Things to Consider
With all of the different routes and options a company can take when planning international connections, it is important to consider all of the different criteria for planning the most cost-effective and performative outcome. Besides just the route, there are many other factors that go into this decision:
- How much traffic are you expecting across this cable?
- How bandwidth intensive will your requirements be?
- Is the cable a TAT or private route?
- Can you get access to the cable directly from the telecommunications company, or will it need to be leased from a management company?
These are only a few of the questions that will come up when looking at a cross-continental connection, and subject matter experts such as NEF can help guide the way. As the telecom industry becomes increasingly global and cloud dependent, it is imperative to find the appropriate network solution for your needs. Because of NEF’s relationships with myriad providers and our experience implementing a range of international network projects, we can help customers design a route that matches availability, minimizes latency, meets compatibility, and maximizes capacity. For help designing your international network architecture, contact our network planning team.