[EN] Facebook and Google to Build Transpacific Submarine Cable
Google said today that it’s working with Facebook and China Soft Power Technology Holdings subsidiary Pacific Light Data Communication to construct a trans-Pacific undersea cable. The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) will transmit 120 terabits of data per second between Los Angeles and Hong Kong — a span of almost 8,000 miles.
October 12, 2016
This is a second such partnership Facebook has gotten involved in and yet another example of changes happening in the submarine cable industry, which has traditionally been dominated by consortia of private and government-owned carriers. Operators of mega-scale data centers who deliver internet services to people around the world – companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon – have reached a point where their global bandwidth needs are so high, it makes more sense for them to fund cable construction projects directly than to buy capacity from carriers.
In May, Facebook announced it had teamed up with Microsoft on a submarine cable across the Atlantic, linking landing stations in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain. The future transatlantic system, called MAREA, will be operated by Telefonica.
Both Europe and Asia Pacific are important markets for the internet and cloud services giants. The Los Angeles-Hong Kong cable will help improve connectivity between both companies’ data centers in the US and Asia.
The cable will be called Pacific Light Cable Network, taking its name from the third partner on the project: Pacific Light Data Communications.
Both MAREA and PLCN systems will be built by TE SubCom, one of the biggest names in the submarine cable industry.
The FASTER cable system, backed by Google and several Asian telecommunications and IT services companies, came online earlier this year. Another big submarine cable project is the New Cross Pacific Cable System, which is backed by Microsoft and a group of Asian telcos. NCP is expected to come online in 2017. Both will land in Oregon on the US side.
Also this year, Amazon Web Services made its first investment in a submarine cable project, agreeing to become the fourth anchor customer necessary to make the planned Hawaiki Submarine Cable between the US, Australia, and New Zealand possible.
One big way in which PLCN and MAREA will be different from traditional transoceanic cable systems is they will be interoperable with a variety of network equipment, rather than being designed to work with a specific set of landing-station technologies, according to Ahmad. Not only will each user be able to choose what optical equipment fits their needs best, they will be able to upgrade that equipment as better technology becomes available.
“This means equipment refreshes can occur as optical technology improves, including taking advantage of advances made during the construction of the system,” he wrote. “When equipment can be replaced by better technology at a quicker pace, costs should go down and bandwidth rates should increase more quickly.”
Google: New undersea cable expands capacity for Google APAC customers and users
Brian Quigley, Director, Google Networking Infrastructure
October 12, 2016
Google’s mission is to connect people to the world’s information by providing fast and reliable infrastructure. From data centers to cables under the sea, we’re dedicated to building infrastructure that reaches more people than ever before.
Today, we announced that we will work with Facebook, Pacific Light Data Communication and TE Subcom to build the first direct submarine cable system between Los Angeles and Hong Kong with ultra high-capacity.
The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) will have 12,800 km of fiber and an estimated cable capacity of 120 Tbps, making it the highest-capacity trans-Pacific route, a record currently held by another Google-backed cable system, FASTER. In other words, PLCN will provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80 million concurrent HD video conference calls with Los Angeles — an example of Google Cloud Platform having the largest network backbone of any public cloud provider.
This is the sixth submarine cable in which Google has an ownership stake — joining the ranks of the Unity, SJC, FASTER, MONET and Tannat projects. We anticipate that PLCN will be operational in 2018.
From the get-go, PLCN is designed to accommodate evolving infrastructure technology, allowing us to independently choose network equipment and refresh optical technology as it advances. Most importantly, PLCN will bring lower latency, more security and greater bandwidth to Google users in the APAC region. In addition to our existing investments in APAC cloud regions and the FASTER cable system, PLCN expands our ability to serve people in Asia, including Google Cloud and G Suite customers.
Nei Hou, Hong Kong! We can’t wait to link up with you!
Facebook: Building one of the highest-capacity subsea cables in the Pacific
Oct. 12, 2016
Facebook wants to make it possible for people to have deep connections and shared experiences with the people who matter to them most — anywhere in the world, and at any time. We're always evaluating new technologies and systems to help us do that, and one of the things we've been building out in recent years is our global network infrastructure. Increased capacity, flexible traffic routes, and adaptable system equipment are all things we look for when we consider new projects, which is why we're partnering with Google and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) to build a new, state-of-the-art subsea cable spanning the Pacific called Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).
PLCN will be one of the highest-capacity trans-Pacific systems, with an initial estimated design capacity of 120 Tbps. PLCN will also be one of the longest direct cable systems in the world, connecting Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Most Pacific subsea cables go from the United States to Japan, and this new direct route will give us more diversity and resiliency in the Pacific. As the number of people using Facebook apps and services continues to grow in the region, PLCN will help further connect Asia and our data centers in the U.S.
PLCN will be a flexible cable system. Prior to this year, anyone deploying a new subsea cable would do so on a turnkey basis, with the system vendor providing the initial optical equipment based on whatever technology was available at the time the cable was contracted. Comparatively, the commercial and technical approach on this cable allows for independence between the wet plant and the optical technology. Each party can select its optical equipment independently, allowing us to choose from a variety of network equipment that will be interoperable with the system. This means equipment refreshes can occur as optical technology improves, including taking advantage of advances made during the construction of the system. When equipment can be replaced by better technology at a quicker pace, costs should go down and bandwidth rates should increase more quickly.
This is the second subsea cable project that we've been able to approach this way. The first was MAREA, the trans-Atlantic subsea cable system we're building with Microsoft and Telefonica. Both cables will be built by TE SubCom, which supports this kind of agile approach. In each joint build, the parties will be able to update the technology in their allotted fiber pairs independently as needed. We believe most subsea cable systems will be created with this model in the future.