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Google to boost transatlantic internet capacity with new undersea cable

Image credit: Dreamstime

Google has said it will build a new subsea fibre cable connecting the US, the UK and Spain in a bid to boost transatlantic capacity for data transfer.

In a blog post, Google said the new cable will be one of the first to connect the US and UK since 2003 and will help to increase capacity on this “busy global crossroads”, Google said in a blog post.

Stretching from New York to Bude in north-east Cornwall and Bilbao in northern Spain, it will also mark the first time that Google has laid a cable directly connecting Spanish internet infrastructure.

Named after pioneering computer programmer Grace Hopper, the new cable comes equipped with 16 fibre pairs which Google says will be a “significant” upgrade to the internet infrastructure connecting the US with Europe.

The cable incorporates novel optical fibre switching that allows for increased reliability in global communications by allowing rerouting of traffic during outages.

Such outages are relatively commonplace, with the UK's digital minister Lord Ashton saying in 2018 that undersea cables are cut as many as 40 times a year, mostly due to accidents.

The network has built-in resilience, with 11 different landing sites for transatlantic cables that ensures that if one is broken, data can continue to be transmitted. However, the exponential rise in data usage year-on-year means that capacity needs to be expanded to meet current demand.

Bikash Koley, vice president of Google Global Network, said: “Private subsea cables allow us to plan effectively for the future capacity needs of our customers and users around the world and add a layer of security beyond what’s available over the public internet.”

Projects to lay more undersea internet cables are continually underway, with Spain and Brazil laying one to connect the two countries last year in efforts to reduce their reliance on routing traffic through the US.

In 2018, Australia’s security agency banned an undersea cable made by Chinese tech company Huawei from connecting to the Australian broadband network over fears that it could be used by China for cyber espionage. 

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