Microsoft and Facebook plan to cross the Atlantic with new undersea cable system

Laurent Giret

Microsoft has just announced today on its Server & Cloud Blog that it will work with Facebook to build MAREA, a new subsea cable across the Atlantic that will allow both companies to server customers better using their online services. The construction of the “state of the art” undersea cable system will begin in August 2016 with completion expected in October 2017, with Microsoft Director for global network acquisition Frank Rey explaining that “this marks an important new step in building the next-generation infrastructure of the Internet.”

Indeed, Microsoft is now a “mobile-first, cloud-first” with lots of competitors to its cloud services that include Bing, Cortana, Office 365, Azure, Skype and Xbox Live. To stay competitive against the largest cloud providers in the world, Rey shared that Microsoft has already invested “more than $15 billion (USD) in building a resilient cloud infrastructure and cloud services that are highly available and highly secure while lowering overall costs”.

Microsoft and Facebook worked with Telefónica’s telecommunications infrastructure company Telxius to design MAREA around interoperable networking technologies, a guarantee for easier upgrades to grow bandwidth capacity in the future. Telxius will serve as the operator of the system and sell capacity as part of their wholesale infrastructure business. You can learn more technical details below:

MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic – featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. The new 6,600 km submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, will also be the first to connect the United States to southern Europe: from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This route is south of existing transatlantic cable systems that primarily land in the New York/New Jersey region. Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for our customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

As we’re moving closer to a future based on cloud computing, Microsoft seems to be doing the right thing to anticipate increasing customer demand for reliable connections to the company’s cloud services. Are Microsoft cloud services currently fast and reliable enough for your needs? Let us know what you think in the comments below.