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Microsoft, Facebook Building Highest-Capacity Transatlantic Fiber Link

June 2, 2016 By Molly White in

Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to lay what they say will be the highest-capacity Transatlantic fiber submarine cable ever. It will also be the first high-bandwidth fiber optic subsea cable to connect the U.S. with southern Europe, Microsoft highlights in a company blog post.

Telefonica’s recently created telecommunications infrastructure subsidiary Telxius will operate and manage MAREA, which will stretch from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then on to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

 Construction of the 6,600 km (4101 mi.) MAREA subsea cable is due to begin this August and be completed in October 2017. Dubbed MAREA, the ¨state of the art¨ submarine cable will encase eight fiber optic cable pairs with a total bandwidth of 160 terabytes per second (Tbps) in protected, insulated sheathing that can withstand the tremendous pressures and vagaries of environmental conditions on the Atlantic seafloor.

The Transatlantic Fiber Link

MAREA will lie south of the New York/New Jersey area where existing transatlantic submarine cables reach the mainland U.S. The new route will enhance network resilience and reliability for Microsoft and Facebook customers in the U.S., Europe and eastwards across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Microsoft points out.

Customer demand for reliable, high-speed Internet connectivity continues to increase for Microsoft’s cloud services. These include Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live and Microsoft Azure, and the Redmond, Washington-based industry leader is looking to MAREA to assure that those demands are met, the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Team explained.

“In order to better serve our customers and provide the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are continuing to invest in new and innovative ways to continuously upgrade both the Microsoft Cloud and the global Internet infrastructure,” Director, Global network acquisition Frank Rey was quoted. “This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the Internet.”

Microsoft has invested over $15 billion in building its cloud infrastructure and services. Twenty-four Azure cloud platforms are up and running and another eight are in the planning stages. In addition to MAREA, Microsoft’s fiber network investments include the NCP trans-Pacific subsea cable and joint ventures with Hibernia and Aqua Comms to connect Microsoft data centers in North America, Ireland and the U.K.