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.”

Source: Google

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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.

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About SubCom:

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.

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