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Microsoft, Facebook Partner on Highest-Capacity Atlantic Subsea Cable

Microsoft and Facebook on Thursday jointly unveiled the highest-capacity subsea cable yet to carry their customers' data across the Atlantic Ocean.

Construction of the cable, called MAREA, is set to begin in August with an expected end date a little over a year later in October 2017. Telxius, a telecommunications infrastructure company owned by Telefonica, will operate the 4,100-mile cable system.

"MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic -- featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps," according to a blog post by Frank Rey, director of Global Network Acquisition for Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations. Designed to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment, the cable system's throughput should improve along with optical technology advances, Rey said.

[Click on image for larger view.] The MAREA undersea cable, set to be completed next year, will span 4,100 miles between Virginia Beach, Va., and Bilbao, Spain. (Source: Microsoft)

The cable will take a more southerly route than existing U.S.-Europe cables. It will run from Virginia Beach, Va., to Bilbao, in northern Spain. Rey said having the route separate from other cables that primarily land in New York or New Jersey will provide resiliency for U.S. and European customers.

It's the fourth major undersea cable for Microsoft in a little over a year. About this time last year, Microsoft announced investments in two trans-Atlantic cables and a trans-Pacific cable.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 26, 2016 at 11:26 AM


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