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Microsoft and Facebook, swimming in the sea,

Strange bedfellows decide to build 160 terabit-per-second trans-Atlantic submarine cable

Microsoft and Facebook have decided to fund a submarine cable together.

The MAREA cable will run from from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain. Virginia's new territory for trans-Atlantic cables, so Microsoft and Facebook are talking this up as adding resiliency to traffic between the USA and Europe. Bilbao's already a landing point for at least one cable, Tata Communications' TGN-Western Europe and has good connections into Spain and beyond.

Most trans-Atlantic cables land in the UK, but there's only so much space in landing stations so a new or expanded beachhead can be useful. Consider, also that closely-grouped cables can mean one incident causes several outages, as Linode found out earlier this year when something took out a handful of cables near Singapore.

Microsoft and Facebook claim the cable will have more capacity than any previous cable spanning the Atlantic, a claim that just about every new cable can make because each new connection uses newer technology. Let's not rain on the parade too hard: eight fiber pairs at an initial 160Tbps is a lot of bandwidth!

Construction will start in August 2017 and, weather permitting, conclude in October 2017.

Facebook and Microsoft are outsourcing operation of the cable to an outfit called Telxius, which wil sell some of MAREA's capacity. Presumably Facebook and Microsoft will reserve some for their own use. ®

Bootnote: Telegeography's submarine cable map can provide hours of entertainment for those who appreciate submarine cables.

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