Google lives in an Orange submarine: Transatlantic cable will get by with a little help from some friends

French telco pairs up with Telxius on backhaul links, co-lo services


Orange and Telxius are hooking up to provide backhaul links and co-lo services for Google's fibre-optic transatlantic cable, due to go live later this year.

The Dunant cable will leave from Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in the Pays de la Loire region of northwestern France and after a 6,600km Atlantic crossing it will land at Virginia Beach, in southeast Virginia, US.

Orange and Telxius, part of Telefónica, will provide terrestrial backhaul from the landing sites as well as running co-location services at both sites. From the beach, signals will be linked to Paris and Ashburn in Virginia

The Google-owned Dunant cable promises to push 250 terabits of data a second across the Atlantic. This capacity is possible thanks to space-division multiplexing, which allows the pump lasers to amplify the signal on multiple fibre pairs rather than being dedicated to one cable.

Dunant is due to light up in the third quarter of 2020. The cable is being made and laid by specialist TE SubCom.

It is named after Henry Dunant, founder of the Red Cross and first person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Dunant joins the Curie cable – Google's other private transatlantic link named for Marie Curie, which links the US and Chile. Google Cloud has access to some 11 other undersea cables via consortium or rented capacity.

Jerome Barré, CEO of Orange Wholesale, said the company would run two pairs of fibre-optic cables providing 30 terabits per second of capacity, giving customers access to high-capacity end-to-end services and network redundancy. It has already invested in 40 cable projects.

Telxius welcomed the boost to its MAREA system – the company operates some 187,000 kilometres of undersea cable around the world.

Demand for transatlantic data continues to grow and cables continue to carry the vast majority of it.

Although mostly built by consortia of telcos, Facebook and Microsoft, working with Telxius, got into the game in 2017 by linking Virginia Beach with Bilbao in Spain. The 160-terabit-per-second link uses eight fibre-optic pairs and offers extra resilience to Microsoft's Azure services.

The UK's first cables were laid in 1870 from Porthcurno in Cornwall – still home to a most excellent museum. ®

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