"Empire at depth": why large IT companies are laying their submarine cables

    In mid-July, the cloud technology division of Google announced the start of work on the first private transatlantic submarine cable - Dunant. “Private” in this case means that the entire project is implemented using Google funds. By 2020, he will connect Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the west coast of France.

    Other large technology companies are also expanding the network infrastructure under oceanic waters. Under the cut, we understand what it gives them and the users of their services.

    / photo SCUBACOPPER CC

    Google Underwater Empire

    Over the past three years, Google has spent $ 30 billion on the development of its infrastructure. This amount included the laying of underwater cables.

    For Google, it all started in 2008, when the corporation became the first private technology company to invest its own funds in the construction of the underwater infrastructure. Google has become part of a consortium working on the Unity cable system, along with five telecommunications companies.

    The goal of Unity was to link the USA and Asia across the Pacific Ocean and increase the capacity on this route by 20%. Later Unity in the Asia-Pacific region joinedSJC cable It was laid on the route between Asia and the United States again in a consortium with telecommunications companies.

    And this January it became known immediately about three new cable projects by Google - Curie, Havfrue, HK-G. Havfrue is a joint project with Facebook. The cable will connect the United States with Denmark and Ireland with an additional channel. HK-G will connect Hong Kong and Guam and will be built with the participation of telecom companies.

    Curie has become a unique project - Google implements it on its own. This cable system connects Los Angeles and Chile. Curie will be the first submarine cable owned by a private technology company, and the first laid to Chile for the past 20 years.

    And now came the turn of the first private transatlantic cable - Dunant, as well as Curie, named after the Nobel Prize winner. With it, Google is going to expand its cloud infrastructure on "one of the busiest routes."

    Dunant will be built in partnership with the supplier of submarine communications systems TE SubCom. The length of the cable system will be more than 6.4 thousand km.

    Who else is laying private cables

    Today, many IT enterprises decide to build an “underwater” infrastructure on their own, rather than “renting” cables from telecommunications operators.

    Last year, Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius jointly completed work on laying a 160-terabit Marea from Virginia to Spain.

    In 2016, Amazon made its first investment in the submarine cable system . The Hawaiki cable, launched this month, connected the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Another cable project in which Amazon is involved is Jupiter. The partners of the corporation are Facebook and SoftBank. He will connect Asia and North America.

    Total technology companies today are laying or have already laid more than 20 cable systems.

    What does laying private cables give to IT companies?

    An important role in the new infrastructure trend is played by cloud technologies. At Google and other providers, cloud services are distributed by geographical regions, which, in turn, are divided into zones with reference to the nearest data centers. Cables connect data centers with new regions and allow customers to access cloud services in them.

    And the laying of submarine cables on its own, although it is expensive, gives companies greater freedom. Here's how this freedom intend to dispose of Google:

    1. Laying a private cable allows you to control the design and construction process, independently determine technical specifications and implement the project faster.
    2. Google already has information about the needs of its customers - in which countries they have difficulty with the work of cloud services, and in which - no. Working on their own cables, the company can choose where to lay the new connection first.
    3. Cables have a limited service life - from 15 to 25 years. A corporation can take this into account and give its guarantees to partners, and they, in turn, have the opportunity to build long-term business plans.

    To summarize, its own underwater infrastructure gives large IT companies the opportunity to “open up” new markets for themselves and fully control the infrastructure at all stages: from design and construction to installation and operation.

    / photo Torkild Retvedt CC

    What are the benefits of private cabling for IT companies for users?

    Cable route affects on data retention . IT companies aim to reduce waiting times and increase the speed and availability of services for customers. From this we can conclude that they choose the best routes for their cable systems.

    The new Google Dunant cable is building up for the same reasons. Cables transmit 55% more data on the transatlantic route than on the Pacific. Judging by these figures and the growing popularity of cloud services in Europe, this really “busy” channel required additional capacity.

    In some regions of the world, intermittent interruptions occur periodically due to physical damage to submarine cables. This year it happenedoff the coast of West Africa. Problems with Internet access then experienced residents of several countries. Additional cables insure against complete communication breakdown in such situations and provide users with uninterrupted access to cloud services even in case of emergencies.

    In fact, both operators and users of the infrastructure benefit from the laying of private submarine cables. Some discover new markets for themselves, while others gain access to new services with low latency rates.

    In the future, IT companies are likely to continue to work on laying their own underwater infrastructure, which could completely change the market. Sub-cabling specialist Julian Rawle even predictsThat, due to this trend, for 20 years, telecommunications companies may cease to act as providers of network infrastructure.

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