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A fast-moving 'tide' is crossing the Atlantic
July 11, 2016
by Mark Ollig

With its information traveling at an incredible 160 trillion bits per second (160Tbps), a new high-speed underwater data “pipe” will soon be crossing the ocean.

The pipe is a transatlantic fiber-optic submarine cable.

Today, the buzz regarding blazing-fast, home Internet speeds is the much talked-about 1 billion bits per second (1Gbps), or “Gig.”

Converting 160Tbps to Gbps, we find it equals 163,840 Gbps.

Imagine if we could download a movie or a TV show using this speed; hypothetically, it would be faster than a blink of an eye.

Looking at it this way, we find 167,772,160 (million bits per second or Mbps) equals 160 Tbps.

Here’s a handy shortened link for the data speed conversions I used from unitconversion.org: http://tinyurl.com/bits-conv.

In today’s internet, the name of the game is speed, along with reliable, secure access for our smart devices to the cloud and online services.

Facebook is partnering with Microsoft, and will soon be providing the highest-capacity data speeds ever seen over the Atlantic Ocean using a single fiber-optic cable.

MAREA is the name of their joint-venture, fiber-optic submarine cable system.

The submarine cable contains eight fiber-optic pairs, and will run from a new landing station in Virginia Beach, VA, to an existing data center hub in Bilbao, Spain.

The cable‘s length will be some 4,100 miles.

“MAREA was chosen as the Spanish word meaning ‘tide,’ a reference to the subsea effort and the route to Bilbao, Spain,” said a spokesperson from the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team.

“The new MAREA cable will help meet the growing customer demand for high- speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook, and their customers,” said Frank Rey, director, Global Network Acquisition, Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations.

“We want to do more of these projects in this manner – allowing us to move fast with more collaboration,” Najam Ahmad, vice president of network engineering at Facebook, said in a statement.

Ahmad was the general manager of Global Networking Services at Microsoft, prior to his working with Facebook.

A Microsoft representative commented on their blog, saying they had completed a marine survey of the entire submarine fiber-optic route to be used, in order to find the most “optimal route to lay the cable in optimal locations.”

MAREA is part of Microsoft and Facebook’s overall plan for providing its infrastructure cloud services to the other half of the planet.

The Azure Platform is the name of data centers using Microsoft’s cloud services, of which there are currently 24 in use today, with a planned 32 Azure regions, globally.

Yours truly obtained the June 30, 2016 FCC Report Number SCL-00185S: “Streamlined Submarine Cable Landing License Applications Accepted For Filing.”

This report included submarine cable license SCL-LIC-20160525-00012 for the MAREA cable system.

“MAREA will provide Edge USA and its affiliates with capacity to support Facebook’s global platform to connect its users and data centers. MAREA will also provide Microsoft Infrastructure and its affiliates with capacity to support Microsoft’s cloud services offerings and connect its data centers,” as stated in the FCC’s Submarine Cable Landing License.

This FCC document also shows Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC (Edge USA) will own 25 percent of MAREA’s “wet segment” in US –territorial waters, and a 25 percent interest in the Virginia Beach cable landing station.

A subsidiary of the Spanish telecom company Telefonica; Telxius will operate the submarine cable.

A majority of MAREA’s bandwidth will be controlled by Facebook and Microsoft.

The complete FCC public notice regarding MAREA can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/FCC-MAREA.

According to a recently released FCC International Circuit Capacity Report, the installation of submarine cable has grown about 36 percent per year for 2007 – 2014, and will grow 29 percent for 2014 – 2016.

Here is a screen-capture photo I took of the MAREA transatlantic cable route: http://tinyurl.com/bits-MAREA.

The announced in-service date for MAREA is tentatively scheduled for October 2017.

Be sure to follow and read my carefully typed, high-speed Twitter messages, via my @bitsandbytes user handle.


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