What is FASTER? Just a super speedy undersea internet cable

The west coast of the U.S. gets a direct line to the east coast of Japan

ethernet fast speed
Credit: Thinkstock

Have a need for speed? Then you're in luck.

Google, along with five other companies, is hitting the on switch for its trans-Pacific internet cable today. The creatively name FASTER is, not surprisingly, really fast. 

Connecting the west coast of the U.S. with the east coast of Japan, FASTER will provide an internet boost for those areas, but the rest of us won't see much of a difference. For the time being, at least. There is more to come. 

In IT Blogwatch, we put the pedal to the metal.

So what is FASTER? More speed, naturally. Stephanie Condon gives us the background:

The trans-Pacific fiber optic cable system funded by Google and a consortium of five other...companies...goes online on Thursday.
...
The system, dubbed FASTER, lands in Oregon in the U.S. and has two landing points in Japan, in the Chiba and Mie prefectures. It delivers 60 Tbps of bandwidth across the Pacific, and...is...about ten million times faster than the average cable modem.
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Of the cable's...60 Tbps bandwidth, Google gets access to up to 10 Tbps, which...it will use to support users including Google Apps and Cloud Platform customers.

So who are the members of this consortium, and who's going to benefit from FASTER? Abner Li shares all the pertinent details:

The FASTER Consortium includes Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, Singtel, and supplier NEC Corporation. The 9,000 km cable...has two landing points in Japan that are strategically located outside of tsunami zones to help prevent network outages.
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In addition to providing more bandwidth, the cable will act as a redundancy for the seismically sensitive East Asia region.

Who exactly will see a difference? And how does it work? I'm glad you asked! Nate Swanner (very sucintly) sums it up:

The cable will provide service to major cities. Stateside, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland and Seattle will benefit.
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The cable [is] made up of six smaller fiber-pair cables, [and] utilizes optical transmission technology to speed things along.

But FASTER isn't one of a kind. Not by a longshot, actually. Fiona Macdonald lets us know what else is out there:

Google...has invested in two other undersea cables to connect the U.S. to South America, Japan, and other parts of Asia...and...last month, Facebook and Microsoft announced they were partnering to build a submarine cable across the Atlantic.
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The race is also on to develop technology that'll connect the entire world to the internet...Google is pushing forward with its Project Loon, which aims to deliver Wi-Fi to remote areas using hot air balloons. Facebook...is building a fleet of solar-powered drones to beam down internet.
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When it comes to connecting the world, a little healthy competition isn't a bad thing.
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