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Work begins on Google-backed 'Unity' undersea cable

The high-speed fiber-optic link will connect the U.S. and Japan

By Martyn Williams
June 24, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - NEC Corp. and Tyco International Ltd. began joint planning work Tuesday for the Unity undersea cable, a high-speed fiber-optic link between the U.S. and Japan that's backed by Internet search firm Google Inc. and five telecom operators.

The $300 million cable will initially contain five fiber pairs -- dual optical fiber cables, one of which is used for service and the other for backup -- but will be expandable to eight pairs. Each pair is capable of carrying 960Gbit/sec. of data giving the system a capacity of between 4.8Tbit/sec. and 7.68Tbit/sec.

To put the Unity cable's capacity and growth in the transpacific cable market in perspective, TeleGeography said late last year that capacity in-use on transpacific cables stood at 3.3Tbit/sec. in total. Several cables are being upgraded to cope with increased demand and two new cables, Trans-Pacific Express and Asia America Gateway, should be online this year so total capacity is expected to be 7.2Tbit/sec. by the end of this year.

The cable is scheduled to go into use in the first quarter of 2010, at which time the owners predict further expansion in other cables will mean Unity will account for about 20% of capacity available across the Pacific.

In addition to Google, the other partners are India's Bharti Airtel; Malaysia's Global Transit; Japan's KDDI; and Singapore's Pacnet and SingTel.

Google's participation in the consortium made headlines when it was announced in February this year. Typically, telecommunications carriers have been the only companies involved in building undersea fiber-optic cable systems, so Google's interest stood out from the other partners.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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