Google & Subcom to build Firmina cable connecting U.S. and South America
Cable maker/installer SubCom said it has teamed up with Google to build and deploy a new undersea cable connecting North and South America. The cable, named ‘Firmina’ after Brazilian abolitionist and author Maria Firmina dos Reis, will run from the East Coast of the United States to Las Toninas in Argentina, with additional landings in Praia Grande, Brazil and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Designed as a twelve-fiber pair trunk, Firmina will be Google’s second proprietary U.S. to South America cable designed to improve access to the company’s services for users in the region.
SubCom said Firmina will be the world’s longest cable capable of maintaining operations with single-end feed power, in the event of a far-end fault. Manufacture of the cable and equipment will take place at SubCom’s recently-expanded manufacturing campus in Newington during 2021 and early 2022, with main lay installation operations scheduled for summer 2022. The system is expected to be ready for service by the end of 2023.
In a blogpost, Google Cloud’s vice-president of global networking, Bikash Koley, said:
“As people and businesses have come to depend on digital services for many aspects of their lives, Firmina will improve access to Google services for users in South America. With 12 fiber pairs, the cable will carry traffic quickly and securely between North and South America, giving users fast, low-latency access to Google products such as Search, Gmail and YouTube, as well as Google Cloud services.
Connecting North to South America, the cable will be the longest ever to feature single-end power feeding capability. Achieving this record-breaking, highly resilient design is accomplished by supplying the cable with a voltage 20pc higher than with previous systems.”
SubCom’s CEO, David Coughlan, said the partnership with Google will “supply a high-speed, high-capacity undersea cable system that will encompass some of the most advanced transmission technologies in the world.”
Firmina will join other Google cables in the region, including the 10,500 kilometer Monet system running from Boca Raton in the US to Fortaleza and Praia Grande in Brazil, the Tannat (Brazil-Uruguay) cable and the Junior cable connecting Rio de Janeiro to Santos in Brazil.
Google is also working with fellow tech giant Facebook on two new subsea cables that will connect North America and south-east Asia.
This came after another Google-Facebook subsea cable was blocked. Plans for the Pacific Light Cable Network were cancelled late last year due concerns from the U.S. government about direct communications links between the U.S. and Hong Kong.
SubCom is the leading global partner for today’s undersea data transport requirements.
SubCom designs, manufactures, deploys, maintains, and operates the industry’s most reliable
fiber optic cable networks. Its flexible solutions include repeaterless to ultra-long-haul, offshore
oil and gas, scientific applications, and marine services. SubCom brings end-to-end network
knowledge and global experience to support on-time delivery and meet the needs of customers
worldwide. To date, the company has deployed over 200 networks – enough undersea cable to
circle Earth more than 17 times at the equator.
4 thoughts on “Google & Subcom to build Firmina cable connecting U.S. and South America”
Google Cloud has announced that they will start running a direct fiber cable, codenamed Echo, from Eureka to Singapore.
In a company wide announcement, Vice President of Google Global Networking Bikash Koley announced that the cable will be the first of its kind to connect the U.S. and Singapore, with a brief stop over in Guam. Plans are also in the works to include a connection in Indonesia in the future, according to Koley.
The cable will help reduce latency when running applications on the Google Cloud Platform, including computing, data storage and machine learning services.
In February of this year, Google announced that their Dunant subsea cable connecting the U.S. to Europe to was ready for service. The company said that it expects the cable to be ready for service by 2023.
This is an exciting and wonderful development. To see the growth of the Internet in real time, is part of the joy of already being connected to it. Now so many more will be able to do the same thing. And that is what the Internet is for, in my opinion.
US internet giant Google has finished laying an undersea cable that runs from New York to Bude in Cornwall and Bilbao, Spain.
“As our first Google-funded cable to the UK, Grace Hopper is part of our ongoing investment in the country, supporting users who rely on our products and customers using our tools to grow their business,” said the blog. Why do commercial companies insist on framing their investments as acts of philanthropy? Google laid the cable so it could flog more cloud stuff to UK customers. Why not just say so?
“With this in mind, improving the diversity and resilience of Google’s network is crucial to our ability to continue supporting one of the UK’s most vital sectors, as well as its long-term economic success,” persists the blog.
Anyway, of course it’s good to have a new 16-fibre pair undersea cable connecting us with the world’s biggest economy, but if all it does is improve Google Cloud services then it may fall short of sparking a new tech sector renaissance in this country. Unless Google’s philanthropic urges run to letting other companies play with its toys, that is.
Google, Meta, Microsoft & Amazon use 66% of the world’s undersea fiber-optic capacity! The four tech giants increasingly dominate the internet’s critical cable infrastructure
Fiber-optic cable, which carries 95% of the world’s international internet traffic, links up pretty much all of the world’s data centers, those vast server warehouses where the computing happens that transforms all those 1s and 0s into our experience of the internet.
Where those fiber-optic connections link up countries across the oceans, they consist almost entirely of cables running underwater—some 1.3 million kilometers (or more than 800,000 miles) of bundled glass threads that make up the actual, physical international internet. And until recently, the overwhelming majority of the undersea fiber-optic cable being installed was controlled and used by telecommunications companies and governments. Today, that’s no longer the case.
In less than a decade, four tech giants— Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, Meta (formerly Facebook ) and Amazon —have become by far the dominant users of undersea-cable capacity. Before 2012, the share of the world’s undersea fiber-optic capacity being used by those companies was less than 10%. Today, that figure is about 66%.
By building their own cables, the tech giants are saving themselves money over time that they would have to pay other cable operators. That means the tech companies don’t need to operate their cables at a profit for the investment to make financial sense.
The ability of these companies to vertically integrate all the way down to the level of the physical infrastructure of the internet itself reduces their cost for delivering everything from Google Search and Facebook’s social networking services to Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud services. It also widens the moat between themselves and any potential competitors.
“You have to imagine this investment will ultimately make them more dominant in their industries, because they can provide services at ever-lower costs,” says Mr. Meltzer.
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