Google has announced that it is building a new undersea cable to connect the UK, US and Spain. The company said that it is incorporating new technology into the cables, making it an upgrade from the existing lines.
The project is expected to be complete by 2022. According to Google’s estimates, undersea cables are vital to the global communications infrastructure, as they carry about 98 percent of the world’s total data.Undersea cables are built by telecommunication firms, typically by pooling resources and later charging other mid-level companies to use them.
The latest cable, named “Grace Hopper” after an American computer scientist and naval rear admiral will be Google’s fourth privately owned cable. It is expected to hit the UK at Bude, in Cornwall.
According to John Delaney from telecoms analyst IDC, Googe is continuously in need of “an ever-increasing amount of transatlantic bandwidth.”
“Building its own cables helps them choose cable routes that are most optimal,” and near data centres, he said.
“It also minimizes operational expenditure by reducing the need to pay telcos and other third-party cable owners for the use of their infrastructure.”
Jayne Stowell, who is in charge of the construction of Google’s undersea cables, told the BBC that the telco giant needs a reliable internet connection.
“It’s not enough to have a single cable because any element in the network can break from time to time, and if it’s 8,000 metres under the sea, it takes a while to repair,” she said.
Google is yet to build a cable that will run through China. given that most of its services are restricted in the country. It says that there are no plans to build one in the foreseeable future.
“We understand, being an American company, and understand the legalities of what we must abide by,” Stowell said. She however acknowledged that the Asia market was bigger than China.
She also touched on the growing fears of the emergence of two internets controlled by the West and by China respectively.
“The world wide web is dependent upon interconnected networks. One would hope networks would be regarded as neutral and continue to interconnect.”
The first transatlantic cable was built in 1858, connecting the US and Ireland by Telegraph.
Around 750,000 miles of cable already run between continents to support the demand for communication and entertainment – enough to run around the world almost 17 times.
Cables typically have a life span of about 25 years and are expected to withstand major hazards including earth quakes and heavy currents.
Ms Stowell pointed out that some of the transatlantic cables are “going out of service and we need newer, better and more sophisticated technology”.
“It served its need and purpose at the time, but it’s old generation,” she said.