Microsoft and Facebook have completed laying the world’s fastest data cable beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
The Marea Cable is 4,100 miles long, stretching from Virginia in the US to Spain at depths of up to 17,000 feet below the ocean.
The cable transmits data at 160 terabits a second– an amazing 16 million times faster than the best home connection in Europe.
Designers say the cable can carry 71 million high definition videos at any time.
The project took two years to complete and will start sending data across the Atlantic in 2018.
Sever weather and growing demand
“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith.
“Submarine cables in the Atlantic already carry 55% more data than trans-Pacific routes and 40% more data than between the US and Latin America.
“There is no question that the demand for data flows across the Atlantic will continue to increase and Marea will provide a critical connection for the United States, Spain and beyond.”
Laying the cable was also a response to damage to existing connections from bad weather.
In 2012, severe gales and flooding from hurricanes knocked out cell phone towers, data centres and damaged cables, wiping out online service for huge swaths of North America for weeks at a time.
Marea – Spanish for ‘tide’ – should end the problem of uncertain connections between remote web sites hosted in the US and users in Europe.
Less buffering for video
“Everyone expects that whenever they turn on their computer or their tablet or their phone, they’re going to work,” said Frank Rey, director of global network strategy for Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure and Operations division.
“That’s what this cable is going to help enable.”
Microsoft says the cable will remain in service for decades as engineers have built easy upgradability into the data centres at both ends which will allow expansion of the available bandwidth.
For internet users, the immediate benefit will be a more reliable connection to web sites in the US, faster apps, such as Facebook, Microsoft 365, Azure and Skype.
Add to that less buffering when viewing online video, then the cable should also benefit Netflix and Amazon Video users immensely.