Google and Facebook's speedy undersea cable: Why they're teaming up

pacific light cable network

It's not everyday that you hear about Google and Facebook teaming up.

But that is exactly what they are doing. The two companies announced they have invested in a trans-Pacific submarine fiber optic cable that will be among the fastest ever built. So what are the details?

In IT Blogwatch, we have a need for speed. 

So what is going on? Chris Preimesberger has the background:

Google and Facebook...are working together to lay a nearly 8,000-mile cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong that is scheduled to go into service in 2018...the new Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) will estimated cable bandwidth of 120 terabits per second...double the speed of the current highest-capacity trans-Pacific route, a record currently held by another Google-backed cable system, FASTER.

Sounds fast, but what exactly does that mean? Stephanie Condon breaks it down for us:

The Silicon Valley giants are teaming up with undersea communications company TE Subcom and...Pacific Light Data build the...PLCN. It will have...enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80 million concurrent HD video conference calls with LA. Once completed, PLCN will be the highest-capacity trans-Pacific route.
TE Subcom noted...the system includes its C+L technology, which effectively doubles the available bandwidth and capacity per fiber pair over a traditional C-band-only designed system.

And why is there a need for these undersea cables? Agence France-Presse explains it all:

Lifestyles increasingly centered on access to cloud-based online services as well as to video, pictures and other content...have increased the need for infrastructure capable of quickly and efficiently moving digital data.
PLCN will be the sixth submarine cable in which Google has an ownership stake...[and] Microsoft and Facebook early this year teamed together to lay a high-speed internet cable across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

If Google already has five other undersea cables, why does it need another? Brian Quigley, director of Google networking infrastructure adds some context:

Google’s mission is to connect people to...information by providing fast and reliable infrastructure. From data centers to cables under the sea, we’re dedicated to building infrastructure that reaches more people than ever before.
From the get-go, PLCN is designed to accommodate evolving infrastructure technology, allowing us to independently choose network equipment and refresh optical technology as it advances...PLCN will bring lower latency, more security and greater bandwidth to...users in the APAC region...PLCN expands our ability to serve people in Asia, including Google Cloud and G Suite customers.

Anything else important? IT support company Yellowbus Solutions Ltd isn't intimidated:

So we don't quite offer 120Tbps but we're hoping you don't need 80 million consecutive HD Video conference calls!

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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