Google backs $300M undersea fiber optic cable to Japan

The system will help Google connect its data centers in Asia and the US

Google is joining forces with five Asian telecommunications firms to build and operate an underwater cable system from the U.S. to Japan to support rising bandwidth usage and better link its data centers in other parts of the world.

The optical fiber system, dubbed "Faster," will initially have a data capacity of 60 terabytes per second. Construction will begin immediately, with completion targeted for the second half of 2016, said NEC, the system's supplier, in its announcement on Monday.

Roughly US$300 million will be invested for the system. China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Malaysia's Global Transit, Japan's KDDI and Singapore's SingTel comprise the other funders and partners.

The system is aimed at accommodating intense traffic demands for broadband, mobile, applications, content and business data exchange on the trans-Pacific route, NEC said. It will be landed at Chikura and Shima in Japan, and will connect to neighboring cable systems to extend Internet capacity beyond Japan throughout Asia. In the U.S., the system will connect to major hubs on the West Coast such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

"The agreement announced today will benefit all users of the global Internet," said Woohyong Choi, the Faster executive committee chairman, in NEC's announcement.

It will benefit Google particularly, by helping the company to connect its data centers in the U.S. and Asia. It will also help Google to better serve its own internal capacity needs. "Google's investment in the newly announced submarine cable does not come as a surprise," said Tim Stronge, vice president of research at TeleGeography, a telecom research firm.

A separate but similar undersea cable system also backed by Google, called "Unity," went into service in 2010. Last year another Google-backed cable, the Southeast Asia-Japan system, went live.

"At Google we want our products to be fast and reliable, and that requires a great network infrastructure, whether it's for the more than a billion Android users or developers building products on Google Cloud Platform," the company said in a blog post.

Typically it's just been telecom companies themselves involved in the building of cable systems, but that's changing as more people come to rely on Internet companies for communicating.

Facebook has taken a stake in an undersea cable consortium linking Asian countries, and Microsoft has said it's in talks to help build a cable for connecting China, South Korea and Japan with the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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